Post-Brexit Britain Will Be Fine. It’ll Just Be a Downshifter: New Zealand 2.0 x 10
Losing influence inside and through the EU as a result of Brexit will amount to Britain’s loss of one its last trappings of being a first-rate great power.
Brexit seems as if it’s going to happen at some point.
(Or is it? The UK and the EU are long past the point of absurdity so who knows?)
One of the most intriguing of the gazillion questions about Brexit’s aftermath is what the United Kingdom (Great Britain) will be like after it.
The cradle of modern-day representative democracy, the source of possibly the world’s greatest humanitarian tradition, the power that used to rule one-fourth of the world and dominated the oceans and seas, the mother of the United States of America, the most talented balancer of the European Continent), the birthplace of the world’s lingua franca, still a top power that keeps punching way above its weight, including by enjoying disproportionate influence inside the European Union for decades.
Yet, the trillion pound sterling question now is:
How great is Great Britain really going to be after Brexit?
The answer isn’t very hard to come up with: not as great as it is before Brexit.
The fact of the matters is that – whether it’s going to be a deal or no-deal Brexit, soft or hard – the UK is going to survive its exit from the European Union just fine.
It might lose some percentage points of its GDP, its citizens might be inconvenienced by some new travel arrangements but the United Kingdom, Great Britain, heck, even England by itself – will be fine.
The difference will be that it will be a UK/GB/EN that will have become a downshifter.
That is right. Norway and Switzerland aren’t in the EU and they still have enviable economies. They’re not exactly world powers but they are alright. The UK is larger in size, sure, but not large enough for the Global Age to go about it all on its own like China, India, or even Russia.
Whether it ends up being a softcore or hardcore Brexit, the UK will be fine as one large Norway. Or, better, yet, a large New Zealand – that’s right, there’s the equation:
UK + Brexit = New Zealand 2.0 x 10
“Why would Brexit make the UK a downshifter?” some may wonder, but before answering that question comes the rational as to why Britain (or England) will be fine despite the hits it is predicted to suffer from its departure from the European Union.
Britain (England) could fare decently on its own since it would still be left with its own Anglo-Saxon principles in government, economy, society, trade, and international relations.
Those same principles have in effect made Britain and its other Anglo-Saxon offspring what they are the most successful grouping of countries sharing the same heritage over the course of the past 200 – 300 years.
The “Anglo-Saxonism” I am referring to here has a wider meaning than “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” or the “Anglo-Saxon model”. It refers to the respective ways of organizing and doings things in the economy, politics, government, diplomacy, defense, civil society, you name it.
In a nutshell, it is a very specific brand of Max Weber’s “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”.
What is more, this set of Anglo-Saxon ways is a historical heritage, which does not refer to nationhood or ethnicity especially given that the “Anglo-Saxon” countries have been or are becoming more and more diverse – the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, and many others.
Favorable geography discouraging enemies aside, it is precisely the Anglo-Saxon principles that have made the said countries economically and politically successful over the years.
In terms of a combination of scope, efficiency, and quality of life, nobody has achieved what Britain and its offspring America have – not the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs, the Germans, the Russians, the Ottomans, the Chinese, the Japanese, the French, the Spanish, or the Portuguese – to name but a few of the other great imperial nations out there.
Nobody else has come up with the notions of Modernity (based on Classical Age ideas, but taken much further) in their most humane forms in terms of civil society, human rights, democracy, and the value of the middle class.
Anglo-Saxonism has been the first to proclaim the invaluableness of “life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness,” to merge John Locke and Thomas Jefferson into one quote because they stand for the same thing.
Sure, Britain has committed countless atrocities around the world. But what Empire hasn’t? At least it has had the decency of evolving towards moral principles and value norms, influencing everyone else to do so as well.
Like all other empires, Britain had slavery but it grew to realize how inhumane it was, fought internally and repealed it, and got everybody else to do the same.
None other than Britain (England) had the Magna Carta Libertatum, the Great Charter of the Liberties, signed on the battlefield at Runnymede in 1215, which saw the seeds of limiting the power of the monarchy for the sake of the rights of feudal lords, people, and towns.
Over the course of several centuries, those principles gave birth to contemporary representative democracy, with its checks and balances.
At the time there was no guarantee whatsoever that for centuries to come the Magna Carta would end up being interpreted as it has been, and influencing English, British, and global history the way it has. But that’s how it turned out, and those truly unique principles of limiting supreme authority and introducing checks and balances didn’t emerge so significantly anywhere else.
The Anglo-Saxon tradition of limiting the powers of the monarch on the basis of written law was unique, and while there have also been other similar examples, this is the one that has stuck and has had a global impact.
Since both the UK’s geography and Anglo-Saxon principles will stay in place in spite of Brexit, the logical presumptions is that Britain will continue to fare decently even after it finally officially leaves the European Union.
None of that changes the fact, however, that when a slight majority of the Brits voted in favor of Brexit back in June 2016, nobody had told them that they would be making their country a downshifter.
Why would that be the case? Because with Brexit the UK is losing not just lots of economic opportunities but also a great source of international influence that it has been enjoying by virtue of being part of the European Union.
It is thus going to voluntarily give up its seat at the table, therefore doing away with one of trappings that had been prevailing it from sliding down towards the status of a second-rate great power.
Quite simply put, the UK has had a disproportionately prominent voice inside the world’s only, largest, most successful supranational entity, while also enjoying a number of special status benefits such as opt-outs and rebates.
After Brexit, a non-EU, downshifting Britain will most probably be downgraded in terms of great power status. And that’s not even taking into account the possibility of Scotland or Northern Ireland leaving the UK.
In case you are still wondering what a post-Brexit Britain will be like, taking into account Anglo-Saxonism and geography, but also relinquishing the great power benefits being part of the EU has been providing it, the answer is:
The post-Brexit UK, or whatever could be left of it, will keep having a successful economy because of its Anglo-Saxonism but it will never be as important internationally as when it was one of the top three EU members.
It is increasingly going to resemble one large New Zealand off the European coast. What’s wrong with being New Zealand? Nothing at all. It’s just not that influential, that’s all, and Britain is used to being very influential all around the world.
It will be intriguing how its elites and population are going to cope with being a downshifter as a result of Brexit.
(Banner image: Pixabay)