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Brexit: what are some of the long-term consequences?

By Keith Suter - posted Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The Brexit crisis is a crisis manufactured by Britain's political class. It cannot be blamed on the "deep state" (civil service, banks etc - most of whom support Remain).

Prime Minister David Cameron converted a long-running Conservative party squabble into a constitutional crisis. Theresa May became Prime Minister following Cameron's defeat in the 2016 Referendum.

She added to the mistakes by triggering the Article 50 resignation clause from the EU treaty – without first deciding what the UK would like to get from the divorce. She then called a general election three years prematurely, whereby she lost most the gains made by Cameron's stunning 2015 election victory. She was kept in power by an arrangement with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party. Her majority of two was lost by Johnson.


Leaving aside the day-to-day dramas, there are five long-term consequences of the Brexit debate.

First, the UK is a global laughing stock. No one comes out of this saga with much credit. Even the Queen (who is supposed to be above politics) has been dragged into it. The three-year disarray within the Mother of Parliaments will have provided ammunition to authoritarian leaders, such as for China's Xi and Russia's Putin, to argue that democracy is inefficient and chaotic.

Second, it has brought Parliament into disrepute among the British. The excessive media attention to the daily drama has revealed politicians as inefficient (to say the least). While there may be large demonstrations outside Parliament, most Briton are bored with the subject and wish that the politicians would just get on with it.

The Brexit debate has sucked the oxygen out of public administration. The UK has so many other problems which are not related to Brexit but these are being neglected because of all the attention to Brexit.

Third, business has been slow to make preparations for the eventual exit (whether it be October 31 or the end of January 2020). Businesspeople (most of whom are Remain) hoped that it would all just blow over.

There is concern about the importation of food and medicines etc, in a new era when the single market has gone, and services, goods and people no longer have easy access between the UK and EU. Will there be, for example, long queues at Dover and Calais while truck drivers have to have their paperwork checked?


Fourth, there is the revival of Scottish nationalism. Brexit has ended the career of a third Conservative leader (after David Cameron and Theresa May): Ruth Davidson (2011-9). As the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, she did well to revive Conservative fortunes in Scotland (and recover from the Thatcher years). But she is no fan of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and she has decided to "spend more time with her family".

Scotland voted to Remain. Scotland for centuries has had separate links with the European mainland (often as part of ganging up on England). The Leave vote was seen in Scotland as an "English vote".

In 2014 there was a Scottish referendum on whether Scotland should leave the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There was an 85% voter turnout, with 44.7% voting to leave Union and 55.3% voting to stay. If Brexit goes ahead, there is bound to be a renewed campaign for Scottish independence. The vote may now go in favour of leaving the UK and seeking to join the EU as an independent country.

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About the Author

Dr Keith Suter is a futurist, thought leader and media personality in the areas of social policy and foreign affairs. He is a prolific and well-respected writer and social commentator appearing on radio and television most weeks.

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