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Is Britain Becoming a Failed State?

Failed states used to be largely the preserve of the developing world, where the institutions of democracy do not have deep roots. But given the extent to which the Brexit campaign has undermined Britain's institutions through lies, it is reasonable to worry that the country will soon come to resemble a tinpot dictatorship.

LONDON – What is a failed state? Not so long ago, when I was Britain’s Overseas Development Minister, and later European Commissioner for External Affairs, I would probably have tried to answer the question by pointing to specific examples, including several countries in Latin America and Africa.

I would have highlighted tribal conflicts, military coups, economic failure, extremes of poverty, and high mortality rates. I might have referred to the failure of more prosperous societies to ensure that globalization helped everyone and did not leave some communities trapped in deprivation. In addition, I would certainly have mentioned systems of government that had ceased to do what they were intended to do, and certainly what outside well-wishers hoped and assumed they would do.

By these latter criteria, one no longer needs to travel to Latin America or Africa to discover failure. Indeed, many of us in Britain worry that failure is increasingly evident within our own borders – which are soon to be clogged after Brexit – and particularly in the way the country is governed.

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