Britain needs to prove it has bargaining power and the ability to remain prosperous after the March 2019 deadline.
The German-led EU is trying to make an example out of Britain, to prevent other countries from leaving the institution. For the last 10 years, member states have witnessed an economic crisis, the Ukraine crisis, a refugee crisis, and a wave of terrorist attacks. Certain nations have fared worse from the collective response to them, such as Greece during the economic crisis, and Hungary during the Ukraine crisis. Other countries, such as Poland, are vehemently opposed to accepting refugees, further provoking internal-EU friction. If Britain can leave the EU and survive, then it signals to other nations that there is an alternative to blindly following collective EU policy.
Because of this, EU leaders will try to make post-Brexit Britain as isolated as possible. Despite what niceties are publicly stated, both sides are trying to take as much as they can from the other. Altering the status of British citizens living and working in EU countries is likely to drive domestic opposition against Prime Minister Theresa May, as their livelihoods will be completely upended. The EU will also get a large financial compensation package for Britain’s departure, the price of which is still being argued over. Regulation of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as Britain’s ability to access the EU’s single market tariff-free, are similarly being debated.
Britain has little bargaining power in comparison to the EU colossus. Unlike NATO, its military power means next to nothing to the EU, while the US, which is closely allied to Britain, has far less influence in the EU than NATO, especially since Brexit. EU leaders have even begun going after precious Commonwealth countries, opening up free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand before Britain. If Britain is unable to woo Australia and New Zealand, then it will look extremely weak in the eyes of EU member states, which could prevent others from following in Britain’s wake. London’s best bet is to seek warmer economic relations with the US, and countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, which still share the Queen as Head of State. Without the growth of a strong economic bloc to counter the EU, Britain will be punished for its isolation.
There are winners and losers in geopolitics. Britain probably can’t win this one, but it can lose less badly. All it has to do is remain economically intact, so that other countries can begin to question the wisdom behind woefully allowing themselves to be dictated by bureaucrats in Brussels. Last year saw the creation of the Three Seas Initiative within the EU, a direct affront to the western powers that have traditionally dominated EU policy. As the diverse needs and demands of member states grow more and contradictory, the severity of current and future crises will increase. Whether or not Britain can successfully forge a new path will help decide when others will too.🔷