What happens after Britain leaves the European Union

| December 8, 2019

Dickson Igwe, Senior political contributor

Now Jack the Bohemian is clearly a Brexiter. He is nuanced, cultured, and urbane in his style, but battle hardened when standing up for England and quitting the European Union.

His passion for his English upper class culture is unequivocal: even imperial. When this Old Boy speaks of the vital role the European Union plays in driving world peace and environmental sustainability, his eyes flutter in bewilderment and disbelief,  and he looks up towards his receding hairline at his opposite’s Europhilia.

‘’When on earth did you become so European Dickson? Look at you. You looked like you dropped off of a banana boat from Nigeria,’’ he laughs hysterically. This Old Boy then proceeds to lecture him on the vast advantages of the UK remaining in the European Union, in terms of access to a marketplace of 500 million, and the leverage the EU possesses when fighting its place in a world ruled by the USA, and a swiftly rising China. Jack the Brexiter is unimpressed.

Assume Prime Minister Boris Johnson gets his much needed majority in Parliament. Will a Conservative Majority allow Johnson’s Brexit Deal to pass into law? The answer is yes. Will Johnson have the power to return the UK to an elective dictatorship bypassing the will of parliament when a Prime Minster feels that is required? Yes! So far as the majority he possesses in Parliament are behind the Prime Minister in policies he initiates and drives.

Will the UK survive as a Union Post Brexit? That is impossible to say at this time. The signs are ominous. If Scotland, which possesses a small majority for Remain, votes to leave the British Union for the European Union, then it is likely Northern Ireland follows suit. This will leave England, Wales and the OTs locked together in a shaky relationship. OTs best get prepared for a much more interventionist, and even neo-imperial UK after Brexit.

Will the New Post Brexit UK be a newly empowered country? Unlikely! Will a Post Brexit UK negotiate with the EU on equal terms? No it will not. Post Brexit UK will be a junior player in negotiations.

Take a look back at the last 3 years. That is one way of looking ahead. History tends to repeat itself. Negotiating with Europe saw the UK diminished on the international stage and the exit from office of 2 prime ministers as continentals watched, probably with interest.

Brexit means divergence from Europe. Europe will view the UK as an adversary. There is no love lost between Europeans and Brexiters.

Johnson believes that without the European Union breathing down his back the UK will be able to cut itself free from Europe, deregulate, and sign new trade deals with whosoever will. But it is not as simple as that.

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. Photo courtesy https://www.irishtimes.com/

After three years of difficult relations, the EU will view the UK as a competitor. The price of market access into the EU by the newly exited UK will be compliance with EU rules first and foremost. In negotiations with a bloc of 27, the UK will naturally hold the weaker hand of cards.

Countries with who the UK will negotiate trade deals after Brexit that have trade agreements with the EU will not want to do anything that jeopardizes that arrangement. So the UK will be coming to class ‘’late.’’

Then, Boris Johnson’s deal is actually a climb down. Johnson abandoned the promise not to allow a trade border with Northern Ireland, allowing Northern Ireland to effectively remain in the EU customs union.

The UK will be unable to banish European trawlers from its waters, another promise Johnson will put in the promises bin. The only way to resolve the fishing issue is through trade quotas- where EU boats are allowed to fish for limited numbers of fish in UK waters and vice versa – or UK trawlers will be limited to fishing in UK controlled waters mainly. That is not the best prospect for a healthy fishing industry.

Then Johnson and Brexiters will learn the hard truth about ‘’ rules of origin.’’ Rules of origin is the simple truth that manufacturing within the EU is far better than manufacturing in a Post Brexit, UK, because it is more economic to maintain supply chains within a much vaster and unified market called the EU with uniform rules and regulations across geographies. The same is true for non-manufacturing retail industries. There is another term for the preceding: ‘’ economies of scale.’’

Businesses thrive to a greater extent within vast borderless markets. A US business sitting in California has access to three hundred million customers. A European business sitting in Berlin has much the same access to a vast consumer market of 500m, than in a Post Brexit UK, with a market of 60m.

Negotiating comprehensive trade deals takes time. Negotiations that take months and turn into years of negotiations. With a weaker hand, UK negotiators will be unable to do any deal that is not mainly in the interests of the EU. EU trade negotiators have been described as ‘’cold blooded.’’  That is simply the nature of today’s world ruled by super regions. The EU is a regional superpower, much as the US and China.

Leaving the EU will be painful economically. There will be a period of adjustment for the UK into a new reality of life outside the Union. Trade rules will be governed by the World Trade Organization. New trade agreements with the USA, EU, and the rest of the world will take years, up to a decade, to be drawn and agreed.

Johnson’s ‘’Hard Brexit’’ is all hubris for the attention of Leave Voters. The Prime Minister will be unable to ‘’cut and run.’’ And belief that salvation will arrive via a trade deal with Donald Trump’s USA is a ‘’very risky,’’ notion. Why? Well, simply look at the congressional wars taking place in Washington DC, and the inevitable impeachment of Donald Trump.

The future for the UK is as ‘’unpredictable’’ as it can get. Thanks to David Cameron and the 2016 Brexit Referendum.

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Category: African Caribbean, Culture & Society

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.

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