As Viewed From America: Article 50 and Brexit

Brexit and Britain’s delusions of empire

It’s Brexit supporters who may be in line for a real shock. Even beyond the coming traumatic loss of access to the E.U.’s market — as the Economist put it - the promise of a politically resurgent Britain is likely to fall flat. Much of the rhetoric of the pro-Brexit crowd centers around the reclamation of British “sovereignty” from technocrats in Brussels. But Brexit proponents have also projected a nostalgic vision of Britain once more asserting itself as a dominant player on the world stage. May trumpeted the dawn of a new “Global Britain” earlier this year: a nation shorn of its continental commitments and capable of finding a new accommodation with other parts of the world - especially those it once colonized. The coming months will test the bravado and bluster of figures like David Davis. Britain’s memories of past triumphs and world-spanning power may make for easy political rhetoric, but they don’t stand up to the actual history. Many have now noted how little Britain’s real imperial legacy - one of conquest and abuse, coercion and exploitation - is actually remembered.

Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post

Pulling the trigger on Brexit

Rather than “taking back control,” as Brexit supporters have argued, the United Kingdom will lose some autonomy in economic and financial affairs. After all, the biggest barriers to a truly "global Britain" are not trade tariffs but non-tariff regulatory barriers, which require either harmonization across trade partners or, at the very least, mutual recognition. From that point of view, the EU single market was the most ambitious free market experiment in economic history. By leaving it, the United Kingdom is giving up its seat at the European table and will therefore no longer be able to influence future decision-making in its largest market, let alone shape future global regulatory standards. And, by turning its back on the EU Customs Union, it is bound to introduce new barriers to trade.

Matthias Matthijs, Foreign Affairs

The European Union lays out a Greek trap for the UK

The UK really does need a new trade agreement. It needs it much more than the EU does. The UK stands to lose far more than the EU from trading on WTO terms after Brexit. The EU knows this perfectly well, not least because Mrs. May’s letter said so.This is the Greek trap. By openly declaring its need for a new trade agreement (and indeed, allowing that need to be endlessly discussed in the press), the UK has walked straight into it. As with Greece, time is not on the UK’s side: there are only two years to negotiate and agree everything, and since the EU is refusing to discuss trade in parallel, it is extremely likely that trade will simply be squeezed out due to lack of time. It is extremely sad that the UK’s inexperienced government has so totally failed to understand the nature of the beast. The EU has played this game many times, and always wins. It was bound to adopt the same approach with the UK. After all, why waste a proven negotiation strategy?

Frances Coppola, Forbes

With Brexit Britain pulls the trigger - on itself

Britain is just beginning to sense the consequences of trying to unravel an economic fabric that took more than four decades to knit. The British pound lost some 11.5% of its value against the U.S. dollar and the euro in the immediate aftermath of the vote, and never regained its footing. That has meant higher prices for British consumers for any foreign-sourced products, including food, gasoline, auto parts or clothing. London seems on the verge of ceding at least part of its financial supremacy to Paris; Frankfurt, Germany; or Dublin, Ireland; or a combination of all three. Even more serious are the political ramifications. These include a fracturing of British union itself. Supporters of Scottish independence are preparing for a second referendum on the issue in the next year or so, anticipating a reversal of the result of a 2014 referendum in which Scottish voters elected to remain in Britain.
 
Michael Hiltzik, LA Times

The Complex Cost of Brexit Gets Clearer

For Europe, it’s hard to overestimate the importance of the union in maintaining peace on the Continent, creating a functional single market, and serving as a potent counterweight to authoritarian countries.

Whatever disdain the British might feel for the European Union, its survival and strength should be as important to Britain as they are to the remaining members. And however strongly the union might want to make an example of Brexit that other members will not want to follow, there is no gain in making the rift with Britain worse than it is. There is no turning back from Brexit, and the challenge now for Britain and the European Union should be to do the least harm to each other and the world.

The Editorial Board, The New York Times

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