KT Edit: Britain loses clout and face over Brexit
Published: Wed 16 Jan 2019, 8:17 PM
Last updated: Wed 16 Jan 2019, 10:18 PM
With March 29, the date set for Brexit fast approaching, the United Kingdom is caught in a quagmire. It is almost back to square one, having to decide how to exit the European Union it joined in 1973. The defeat of the divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday could lead to a disorderly exit, or a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave the EU. There is talk of a second referendum and snap elections. A no deal would mean the UK detaches from the EU and strikes separate trade deals with individual countries. But that would be worse than the hard Brexit option, for without a trade agreement, ports would be blocked and airlines grounded. At this stage, the UK can ill afford a deterioration in security since operational cooperation and policing still rely on EU tools. At the same time, a hard Brexit deal could mean the loss of Britain's tariff-free trade status with other EU members which would result in British products being higher-priced and less competitive. The UK would also lose the advantages of the EU's state-of-the-art technologies and jobs for its citizens in other EU countries.
Prime Minister Theresa May may win the confidence vote, but she would face a huge dilemma with regards to taking the process of separating her country from Europe forward. With many countries on the continent feeling a new cohesiveness with the likely exit of the UK, the chance of the UK being welcomed back to bloc remains to be seen.
The European Court of Justice had ruled that the UK could revoke its Brexit application unilaterally but that is small consolation for the prime minister struggling to keep her job and country together. At the same time, a delay in Brexit could result in a more nationalistic and less tolerant United Kingdom. The referendum itself was a vote against globalisation, which takes the UK off the main stage of the financial world. And Tuesday's defeat has undermined May's strategy of maintaining cordial ties with the EU. May can only hope that a divided parliament and the fear of a disorderly exit will help her push a deal through. A former opponent of the plan, the prime minister later accepted the referendum and was keen to get the job done. She's now stuck in the middle as she tries to strike a balance between Britain's global and domestic aspirations. A 'best deal' is out of the question under the circumstances. She'll have to be content with any deal . if that ever happens.