With the west’s future in the balance, we must not destabilise the EU furtherby Ian Kearns / November 10, 2016 / Leave a comment
Donald Trump’s election victory has demonstrated just how myopic the UK’s Brexit debate really is. While the details of our future trading relationship with Europe are vital, the bigger picture is that the future of the west now hangs in the balance, darkening the already difficult context in which Brexit negotiations will take place. How Brexit happens in fact will now help shape not only the future of UK-EU relations but whether the EU and the west as we know it survives.
To see why this assertion is true, just consider the current state of both the United States and the European Union.
The US is now openly questioning its own commitment to a liberal order that it helped to create and lead for seven decades. It appears less interested in a tolerant politics and more interested in isolationism than it did just a few weeks ago. From a geo-strategic point of view the upshot is that America’s allies can no longer take US leadership and support on the world stage for granted.
In Europe, meanwhile, concerns and divisions over the handling of terrorism, migration and the logic and impact of continued austerity are fuelling a widespread Eurosceptic political revolt. This revolt may soon produce another populist breakthrough in the Netherlands, Italy or France, shaking the European project not in its periphery but at its core. Given the now regular failure of the polling industry to predict the outcome of elections, who can really be sure that Marine Le Pen will not be the next French president?
The European economy, moreover, is experiencing almost no growth. Few see any political appetite for the difficult structural reforms that might lead to change. Another recession is not only probable but if and when it comes, it is hard to see the single currency surviving. The politics of a new wave of austerity in the south or of more bail-outs from Germany to the rest are just too toxic to be plausible while the ECB is already operating at the limits of what monetary policy can do.
These developments in the US and Europe are of profound importance for British interests and strategy.