Brexit has happened. At 11 pm on January 31, 2020, the UK officially left the European Union (EU) after 47-years of membership and three years after it voted at a referendum to leave EU.
On the day of the referendum, a poll questioned 12,369 people who had completed voting. The poll showed that ‘nearly 49% of leave voters wanted to leave the EU on the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK. Brexit or leaving the EU did not come easy to the British. Britain’s population voted 58% - 42% in favour of leaving the EU. It is still opposed by large majorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and by Britain’s younger generation. It cost the country two Prime Ministers, and today there is also the question of Britain’s own unity at stake.
In Scotland, where the populace voted overwhelmingly against leaving the EU, polls show a majority are now in favour of separating from the UK to remain in the EU. In Northern Ireland, there are feelings that the UK sold the province out. This has strengthened the position of those among the Irish who are calling for uniting with the the Republic of Ireland and separating from Britain.
Probably a very sad day indeed for British politicians like past Prime Minister David Cameron who were supportive of Sri Lanka’s separatist movement and supported calls for the division of this country. Even sadder, as it was even then well known, that the leadership of the LTTE who were perceived to be leading the Sri Lankan separatists, were categorized as internationalist terrorists. It was even better known that that leader of the separatist movement was part and parcel of an international drug and human smuggling group.
O Tempora! O, Mores! It appears ‘karma’ has come from behind to bite our past colonial masters on their colonial backsides. Be that as it may, how/what does Britain’s divorce from Europe mean to the world in general and the British people in particular? Boris Johnson’s landslide victory at the polls last year is an indicator that a large majority of voters support his call to leave the EU and take Britain in a new direction, to redraw Britain’s position internationally.
What most Europeans - especially powers like Germany and France - will be worried about is the direction the UK will now take. Will it move closer to the US and its confrontational foreign policy, or will it align itself to Europe and continue its present multilateral non-confrontational foreign policy. Ideally, Britain should now be in a position to forge a different set of economic relations between its largest trading partner - the EU - as well as between the US and other countries in the world.
Yet, US President Donald Trump’s confrontationist ‘America First’ policies make the US an unreliable partner. US policy under Trump ranging from climate change, to trade wars with China is at odds with Britain’s policy of continuity. It literally puts Britain into ‘a bit of a pickle’. Adding to the witches brew, Trump’s tendency to take any opposing viewpoint to him as a personal insult puts at risk straining relations with all others.
In these circumstances, does Britain’s stepping aside from rules and regulations which bind it to the EU policy frameworks, in fact, give it any greater freedom to make choices, policy decisions, while maintaining a diplomatic balance? Britain has also now to realise that any relationship it has with the People’s Republic of China with whom the US is involved in a trade war, would also be dicey. The UK or Britain’s economy needs a massive injection of Chinese investment to rejuvenate it. But, the US views Chinese investment as a potential security risk and looks on Chinese companies with suspicion...
Where does this now leave an isolated Britain?
As Britain leaves the EU, it (Britain) is desperately looking to the US for new trade deals. President Trump needs allies to back him in his economic war with China and would look to pull the UK into his (Trump’s) orbit. In the end, the question every Briton should be asking himself is, whether the UK’s decision to leave the EU will only reduce it (Britain) to the status of an acolyte of Trump’s US.