Global implications of Brexit

Brexit - Did the British know what they were voting for?

Brexit - Did the British know what they were voting for?
Brexit - Did the British know what they were voting for?

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]rexit stands for Britain exiting the European Union.  On June 23, 2016, Britain held a referendum on whether to exit the European Union.  The turnout was impressive at 72%; 17.4 million or 52% voted to ‘Leave’ and 16.1 million or 48% voted to ‘Remain.’1    The United Kingdom Independent Party which led the Leave campaign bragged that they won the unexpected result by over a million votes.  Many argued that the will of the people has to be respected in a democracy and thought that the decision to ‘Leave’ was final.

The goal of the EU is to build a mighty Superpower on the US model.  Whereas the USA had a blank slate and several more years, the EU had to deal with crystallized nation-states in a relatively short time, a more difficult task.

But few people realised the full implications of their vote.  Belatedly, after voting people were googling to find out what the EU was, how many, and which countries, were in the EU, and what does leaving the EU mean.  Unusual timing for this search explains why some wanted to change their decision if they had a second chance.  It also explains why 3 million signatures were obtained demanding a second referendum on the same issue. Ignorance of all the issues also explains why the Labour Party in Britain is in disarray:  23 out of 31 Labour shadow cabinet members were either sacked or resigned.  Hilary Benn was sacked for hinting that there ought to be a coup by saying that Jeremy Corbyn “is not a leader.”  Corbyn was also accused of not giving effective leadership over the Brexit issue.2     Corbyn refused to resign his leadership of the Labour Party as he hoped to be a Prime Minister one day.  Corbyn still had the support of his party and the nation. Asking for a second referendum and searching for the full implications of Brexit, after voting, are reflections of the weaknesses of democracy.  Some argued that the final decision should have been made solely by Parliament.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, two Brexit leaders offered their voters feeble and often contradictory explanations for their cause.  They wanted Britain out of Europe, yet Johnson said, “Britain will always be part of Europe.”3    Presumably, Johnson wanted to negotiate a deal on British terms.  However, after the vote, the key EU leaders said categorically that Brexit meant that there was no access to the common market.  The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said furiously that he “would not let anyone take Europe from us.” He called a meeting in a lodge of his counterparts, France’s Aryrault, Netherland’s Bert Koenders, Italy’s Paola Gentiloni, Belgium’s Didier Reynders, and Luxemburg’s Jean-Asselborn.  The aim was to work out Joint proposals to use the euro to bolster security, defense coordination and a dynamic economic environment.4    Angela Merkel stood out as a compassionate EU leader: she said, against the wishes of her colleagues, that Britain needed to take time before triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.5

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]rexit is about leaving a dynamic Europe in 2016, and is directly opposite what Britain wanted in the nineteen sixties when Frenchman de Gaulle twice vetoed British entry.  But in each case the reason for a veto and for Brexit was the same.  De Gaulle felt that Britain was too close to the Anglo-American power structure to be a constructive member of the EU.  Britain is not obliged to invoke Article 50 immediately although the EU wants it to reduce instability, that has already seen global markets down by $2 trillion.  EU leaders feel confident that the EU is a leading superpower in the making: the EU is the world’s largest common market with 508 million people; the IMF estimated that the EU is the largest trading block contributing 16.9% of the world’s GDP on a Purchasing Power Parity basis and the US is second, contributing 15.8%.  Financial specialists, however, like George Soros estimates that the sterling would lose about 20% of its value with Brexit.6   Some even think that the EU will collapse:  John Gillingham wrote The EU: An Obituary to explain why the EU is a behemoth which a unified currency, the euro, cannot support.

Financial data strewn around Britain also muddies the waters.  For instance, Johnson noted that the EU costs Britain £20 billion per year, money that could be better spent on the National Health Service and other welfare services. Half of Britain’s GDP goes mostly to Eastern Europe.7      What is omitted is that most of this expenditure goes towards the erection of the nuclear curtain in Eastern Europe – a NATO project.  Consequently, the EU will be saddled with two divergent defence policies:  the Anglo-Saxon-Zionists rely heavily on NATO while Germany and its allies want a unified EU army, independent of NATO and American hegemony.  In the envisioned super-state, NATO’s presence on member states of the EU will be very limited.   The EU should be dictating the terms.

Brexit supporters found immigration one of their major issues.  Britain has 2.1 million EU nationals in 2016, 224K more than the previous year.  The largest influx is from Poland, 800K, next is the Irish, 385K, and the Germans are the third largest with 300K.9  These immigrants from Europe together with illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East are accused of taking jobs from locals and draining the country of social security benefits.  The animosity for these immigrants has hit the streets with race riots having increased beyond tolerance levels. Those who have taken advantage of mobility of labour before Brexit are unlikely to be affected as they are covered by “acquired rights” under the 1969 Vienna Convention.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]ut the blame lies with the signatories of the European Parliament regulations who should have foreseen the problems with migration.  Under normal conditions labour from poor rural areas generally moves to richer pastures, usually the cities.  Some cities die while other flourish depending on economic conditions.  When the EU was operating under the Treaty of Rome and ready for expansion, lawmakers should have anticipated migrants moving to richer countries to take advantage of higher wages and standards and that there would inevitably be a saturation point when their presence would be an unbearable burden. More recently, migrants from Syria and other war-torn areas in the Middle East wanted to walk to Britain, Germany, Sweden and Denmark, the richest pastures in Europe.  The point is that the EU should have taken action a long time before this flow occurred.  A free flow of goods and services is not the same as a free flow of people across international borders.  Indeed, belatedly, the Franco-German super-state would allow borders and migration policies to be decided by member states.10

Putin is also crafting a super-state, “The Big Eurasia” project.  The idea was discussed at a May conference in Astana and again at the June 17, 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum with Eurasia Economic Union and China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Commonwealth of Independent States, and other countries.  The issue will be discussed again in September in Vladivostok, at the East Economic Forum.  The project will begin with a single market for hydro-carbon by 2025 and then extended to trade in other goods and economic partnership.  The project will be open to Europe and is intended to harness modern technology.11

Some, like the ex-Foreign Minister of Norway Espen Barth Eide, seems to suggest that the Norwegian model that Britain craves is a retrogressive step. Britain by having the fifth largest economy in the world is that third leg that gives the EU stability and power.  From the centre, Britain wants to shift to the periphery from which Norway and Switzerland operate.  Since Norway (5 million population) and Switzerland (8m) are relatively small compared with Britain (65m), with lots of green energy, Norway’s per capita GDP is  64% higher than Britain’s, and Switzerland’s is 40% higher, they cannot be sound models. Both, Norway and Switzerland are members of the 26-member Schengen for the sake of tourism.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]esides, Norway entered the Common market through the European Economic Area (EEC) Agreement in 1992.  Norwegian interests are promoted through its Office of the Prime Minister which is responsible for EEA and EU affairs.  Norway does not participate actively in EU debates but it does contribute to the EU budget in return for adapting their laws and regulations to suit Norway.  With Norway, it is not a question of “yes” or “no” but a “degree” of penetration.  Norway’s contribution to the EU’s Territorial Cooperation for 2014-20 was $25m.

In the case of Switzerland, it does not pay fees for joining the EU.  But it has negotiated trade deals with the EU and each has taken a long time to craft.12   Switzerland has given legislation on immigration with the EU top priority at the moment.

Results of a referendum, like Brexit, are not legally binding.  Decisions might change. Let us assume, nonetheless, that Brexit is here to stay and note the repercussions. Scotland has decided to remain in the EU.  Scottish leader Nicolas Sturgeon said that Holyrood could not accept Brexit and MSPs would be consulted to block Brexit.13   

If Scotland secedes, Northern Ireland might do so too as it had a higher standard of living while in the EU than out.  Northern Ireland became independent in 1922, joined the EU in 1973, and broke the link with sterling in 1979.  Stephen Collins notes that the UK vote poses enormous challenges for (Northern) Ireland.”14    Brexit will cost the Irish Government €3.2 billion.15    Brexit will test the Fine Gael-led minority government of Enda Kenny, as emphasized in Beyond the Sovereign State and Questioning Sovereignty.  EU membership offered EU citizenship, an attractive internal market, shared norms of equality, worker and environmental protection, and a bigger voice at an international level.  “Take back control,” is a jingoistic refrain.  All these advantages, with their weaknesses, amount to greater democracy that Britain could not match.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]L[/dropcap]aw professor at Oxford Dr. Cathyrn Costello concluded that, “Brexiteers offered an alternative that is a mirage.”16    Should Northern Ireland remain attached to London, Sinn Féin would attempt to unify Ireland.  Calais mayor Natacha Bouchert and centre-right president of Haute de France Xavier Bertrand want the Calais border clearly defined.  They want the British to take control of 7,000 stranded refugees in Jungle camp in Calais and Dunkirk.  The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, however, said that France had to tighten this border, not abandon it.17  Taken together, Britain would shrink into little England, though it would still have Old Commonwealth countries swearing unquestionable allegiance to it.

Next to the loss of territory, Britain would lose business, especially financial.  London is the financial capital of the world.  Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt are candidates for financial centres that would take business away from London.  Berlin is reportedly the start-up capital of Europe.  Little wonder that voters in London, Manchester, Liverpool and smaller cities showed a preference to “remain” in the EU.

Brexit could be contagious.  Leaders fear that the EU might have to deal with Swexit, Hexit, Itexit, and Frexit.  The Russian press notes that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia might follow suit.18

The strength of the EU offered Spain an opportunity to demand joint sovereignty of Gibraltar and Malvinas, as a first step towards the recovery of their overseas territories.  Spain feels that it would be more effective than Argentina in recovering the Malvinas.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]O[/dropcap]bviously, Britain’s credibility for “predictability, stability and effectiveness” took a big hit when Standard and Poor downgraded its credit rating from AAA to AA, with a negative outlook.19   Australia’s PM Malcolm Turnbull tried to pacify his people by saying that there was “no cause for alarm,” but the country lost $50 billion as the sterling crashed.  Putin had nothing to do with Brexit, but since Europe looked more fragmented than before, Putin was given credit for Brexit.  Even the American ambassador to Russia McFaul said that Putin won since Putin favoured a strong Europe, but objected to a strong Atlantic Alliance, which Britain was not likely to give up.20    Director of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the HSE Faculty of World Economics and Politics, Moscow Timofei Bordachev was correct when he said that Brexit would strengthen Germany, and seek cooperation with Russia.  Meanwhile Russia and China have signed an investment deal of $58 billion for 58 projects and SCO is being expanded.21

It is difficult to fathom why a Superpower with a debt of $60 trillion would plunge into a nuclear war with an ally that has the fifth largest economy in the world and wants to separate from its neighbours who have the largest market in the world.  The Atlantic Alliance must have something big up its sleeve.  Perhaps one way of overcoming a financial crisis is driving opponents into one.

The goal of the EU is to build a mighty Superpower on the US model.  Whereas the USA had a blank slate and several more years, the EU had to deal with crystallized nation-states in a relatively short time, a more difficult task.


  1. “Overwhelmed by Brexit? This is what it all means,”, 25 June, 2016.

  2. “EU referendum Labour crisis: Hilary Benn says Jeremy Corbyn ‘is not a leader’ …”, June 26, 2016.

  3. “Watch: Roaring Boris buries pro-EU camp and sets out vision for ‘glorious’ British future,”, April 16, 2016.

  4. “Germany says “won’t let anyone take Europe from us,”, 25 June, 2016.

  5. “Brexit leaders bicker as Brexit reality bites,”, 26 June 2016.

  6. BBC news, 25 June, 2016.

  7. David P. Goldman, “Britain bests Brussels: Spengler,”, June 24, 2016.

  8. cit. “Germany says…”

  9. Jeremy Hunt, “Next MP must negotiate to stay in single market – then hold new referendum,”, June 2016.

  10. cit, super-state.

  11. “Putin initiates creation of large Eurasian partnership,”, June 17, 2016.

  12. Espen Barth Eide, “We pay, but have no say: that’s the reality of Norway’s relationship with the EU,” the, 20 October 2016; see also, “Norway and the EU – A Historical Overview,”, 10 March, 2015; Andrew Sentence, “Four reasons a post-Brexit UK can’t copy Norway or Switzerland,”, 10 June, 2016.

  13. “Nicola Sturgeon warns Scotland could block Brexit,”, June 2016.

  14. Stephen Collins, “UK vote poses enormous challenges for Ireland,”, June 25, 2016.

  15. Daniel McConnell et al, “Brexit likely to cost Irish Government €3.2 billion,”, June 26, 2016; also, Catherine Shanahan, “In perspective: consequences of Brexit for Ireland,”, June 26, 2016.

  16. com, June 25, 2016.

  17. Jennifer Newton et al, “Illegal immigrants aiming to cross the Channel say Brexit will make it easier to sneak into Britain because France will no longer try to stop them,”, June 24, 2016.

  18. Paul Gillespie, “EU must prevent any Brexit contagion,”, June 25, 2016.

  19. Nick Miller, “Brexit: Britain’s political paralysis worsens, credit rating downgraded, markets sink,”, June 28, 2016.

  20. Nicole Hasham, “Election 2016: Malcolm Turnbull urges ‘no cause for alarm’ as markets plunge at Brexit result,”, June 24, 2016; see also David Wroe, “Brexit: Australia will be hit as world becomes more fragmented, less safe, say experts,”, June 254, 2016.

  21. Oleg Yegorov et al, “Russia reacts to Brexit,”, June 24, 2016.

Henry D'Souza is a prolific author who has written over 60 papers and 4 books, of which 2 books, 1 booklet and 28 papers were published. He is a distinguished sportsman, having represented Kenya in Field Hockey and also played tennis for the country.

Henry currently resides in Canada.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here