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Brexit Turns Five

Although it is still too soon to gauge the full impact of the United Kingdom’s momentous 2016 decision to leave the European Union, many Remainers have now resigned themselves to the fact and want Britain to do well outside the bloc. But how can the UK make the best of an unpromising situation?

In this Big Picture, Robert Skidelsky argues that the UK’s departure from an increasingly federalist EU may have been inevitable. But the University of Oxford’s Timothy Garton Ash thinks Brexit is the worst mistake that Britain has made since 1945 – one that has significantly diminished the country’s global role and its ability to shape its destiny.

In fact, the country may not even survive. In a 2019 podcast, Irish journalist and author Fintan O’Toole argued that Brexit – which a majority of voters in both Scotland and Northern Ireland opposed – could hasten the collapse of the UK. And Chris Patten warns that trust in Britain is declining fast as Prime Minister Boris Johnson denies the consequences of the post-Brexit agreement he reached regarding Northern Ireland.

As for the economy, Howard Davies, a former chairman of the UK’s Financial Services Authority, says that although London will defy Remainers’ dire forecasts by maintaining its status as Europe’s largest financial marketplace, its golden age as the continent’s financial capital is over. But Dambisa Moyo argues that the UK has a strong hand to play outside the EU, and should seek to reposition itself globally by focusing on green energy, technological innovation, and engagement with China.

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