The war in Ukraine invalidated Brexit


Brexit, in its original form, is dead: killed by the new geopolitical realities created by the war in Ukraine. I doubt the UK will join the EU anytime soon, but its whole attitude towards Europe will have to change – in defence, energy and even trade itself.

To understand why, consider the delusional text written by Boris Johnson introducing the Integrated Review, a comprehensive foreign and security strategy published by Downing Street last March. Brexit, he said, freed Britain: “free to go our own way, endowed with a global network of friends and partners, and with the opportunity to forge new and deeper relationships “. The UK would be the buccaneering free agent, dodging and plunging across Asia, the Americas and the Pacific, promoting free trade in place of established trading blocs and moving its armed forces into the ‘Indo-Pacific “.

Where is that freedom now? He disappeared, for four reasons.

First, China and Russia have forged a strategic economic alliance. The declaration co-signed in Beijing on February 4 effectively ended the “rules-based world order” conceived in 1945. In its place, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping ushered in an era of systemic conflict, where trade, information circulates and access to raw materials will follow paths determined by an alliance of militarized dictatorships.

Second, because proximity suddenly matters. Western sanctions against Russia are reshaping the global economy. Although Russia accounts for just 3% of global GDP, the impact of cutting everything from civil aviation to credit cards and McDonalds will be felt around the world. One need only look at how urgently America is scrambling to appease oil-producing Venezuela to understand the importance of geographic proximity.

Third, we have entered an energy war that will last until the end of the carbon age. The United States is self-sufficient in fossil fuels. Europe is not. If Putin turns off the lights in Italy and Germany, the two biggest consumers of Siberian gas, then no matter how quickly the UK government builds wind farms and nuclear power plants, we will still be part of a continental energy crisis. , requiring continental solutions .

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Fourthly, in this new situation, either the European Union becomes a world power, equal to Russia, China and the United States, or it becomes the chessboard on which the others fight. Hard Brexit has always been based on the breakup and decline of the EU. If it were to happen now, it would be a disaster for Britain and a victory for Putin. The emergence of systemic conflict is forcing Britain to re-engage with Europe, on defense projects, in space, and even at the grassroots level of getting humanitarian goods from Dover to Calais.

The EU knows it must achieve strategic autonomy – the ability to defend itself, regulate its information space and heat the homes of 500 million people without relying on Russian gas – much faster than it has. had imagined. Once this is done, the UK will become its satellite.

By choosing a hard Brexit, Johnson deliberately gave up 70 years of British leadership in Europe. Who benefited from it? Finally, Vladimir Putin. The next government will have to rebuild trade, energy, space, internet and defense collaboration with the EU, which means common standards and, eventually, a common market.

The xenophobes, little Brits and Putin’s cronies who have inflicted this predicament on us should never be forgiven.

[See also: I loathe Boris Johnson – but Ukrainians love him]

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