Two weeks ago, Britons voted, 52% to 48%, for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Since then, many Brits have realized that the “Leave” promises were hollow, while those presenting the economic reasons to “Remain,” were boring.
Global stock markets suffered devastating losses on the two (market) days following the vote, before rebounding roughly to where they had been before the Referendum. The real concern should be, however, the long-term effects of Brexit. Currently, the actual date on which the split will be finalized would be in early 2019.
In the interim, the British economy will weaken slowly as businesses, on both sides of the Channel, begin preparing for post-Brexit reality. New facilities will be built on the Continent, hiring will focus mostly on non-British citizens of the E. U. And in the long-run, imports from the Continent will be subject to tariffs. But, let’s consider the impact on National Security.
The two primary reasons behind an early version of the E. U, in the decade following World War II, were that the other major powers could reign-in Germany. The re-Unification of Germany, however, made it even stronger. Also, mutual trade was expected to facilitate the recovery from the devastation of war.
Russia, on the other hand, is still manipulating Ukraine, and it has been sending additional military troops to its border, across from the Balkans. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—along with Poland and Finland—are quite anxious, wondering if the Western Alliance will be able to protect them from Russia’s expansion preferences.
I use the term “Western Alliance” to include NATO and the European Union. There is considerable overlap between the two, while NATO also includes Canada and the U. S. While most military responsibilities fall to NATO, there are some that the E. U. takes on. Additionally, the entire Alliance is responsible for the Economic Sanctions, which have been assessed against Russia for its annexation of Crimea, and involvement in Ukraine.
When the U. K. leaves the E. U, it will still be a member of NATO. With the split from the Union: however, it will become more and more isolated within Europe as time goes by. Britain has the second largest Military in Europe, just marginally behind France. Germany also has a large military; however, it is limited to a domestic self-defense force. And, the U. K. has the second-largest economy in Europe, ranked by GDP, behind Germany.
So, losing the U. K. would reduce the European Union, both with regard to its collective economy, as well as its military might. And that brings us to Germany, which might be expected to assume more of a leadership role, along with France and Italy. Some of the other member nations are anxious about a potentially re-awakening of German Might. Such fears, ion my opinion. are base-less.
I believe that the solution, however, would be a greater diversification of the power base, and also a significant reduction in the E. U. bureaucracy. Additionally, the member nations should have more control over their own internal policies: while, only major decisions, of regional concern, should be made by the E. U. And don’t forget that a truly United Europe would stand a better chance of countering Vladimir Putin’s wondering eye!
The E. U. and U. K. should jointly try to put the Brexit-genie back into the bottle. Britain has already shown signs of buyers’ remorse, and its Parliament is not required to adhere to the result of a Referendum. Similarly, a failed Brexit might cause nationalistic factions in other E. U. nations to weaken.
Although immigration is often cited as the cause for the Brexit, the U. K. doesn’t have many Syrians. The people’s problem really is with Brussel’s overreach, and perhaps the domestic mismanagement—think “trickle down”—of the economy. The immigrant problem was just a trumped-up tool of the Leave faction’s appeal.
So European Union, maybe if you give Great Britain a shot at a “Do-Over, that might save both of your problems. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have stated that the European Union will expand. Tell me: Wouldn’t the United Kingdom be the best fit?