Millennium Post

Brexit: first wave of deglobalisation

Disenchantment over huge population of new billionaires writes Arun Srivastava.

Brexit: first wave of deglobalisation
While the European Union is creating pressure on the UK to fulfill its commitment before leaving the EU, intriguingly at the same time the EU leadership is adopting a flexible approach with some even expressing the view that UK can continue to remain an EU member. No doubt the interest of the UK will be hurt once Brexit is formally approved and implemented, but the major loser will be the EU, as Brexit officially heralds the beginning of deglobalisation.

The referendum on Brexit, with an unprecedented voter turnout of 72 per cent, has attracted the attention of the whole world, as its outcome will not only impact the future of the UK, but also bring about massive changes to the European hegemony and the future of globalisation. Interestingly, globalisation would be challenged in its home ground.

Brexit may be defined as the first wave of anti-globalisation and rising populism. The leaders of the rich and capitalist world are in a state of stupor about the future of their economy. For them Britons pushing for Brexit has been the major source of worry. It is certain in near future, especially by the time UK leaves the EU, globalisation and anti-globalisation forces would engage in fierce battles in different fields, which is likely to involve more countries beyond EU.

At some level the reasons for the win of Donald Trump as the US president could be traced to the emergence of anti-globalisation elements in American politics. The day Brexit becomes a reality, deglobalisation will gain more appeal among Americans. It would send the politically correct message to the Americans. The apparent reason is, EU has been putting the populist ideas of the USA in practice and also the two are experiencing a fundamental shift in social physiological and political framework. True enough the dissenting voices within the EU are weary of the latest political alterations.

The age of globalisation began on the day the Berlin Wall came down. From that moment in 1989 the free movement of capital, people and goods, trickle-down economics gained momentum. But the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008 sent the strong message that globalisation was playing havoc with nation economies. Europe has failed to fulfill the historic role allocated to it.

Brexit was the candle light in the dark allay. This was the reason that EU held the notion that on the issue of response to Brexit it should take a tough line with Britain to show other countries that dissent has consequences. Worldwide, an anti-establishment revolt has been raging since the crisis.

In 30 of the major democracies, the incumbent rulers have managed to win only in a third of national elections each year since 2008. In the 20 top emerging and developed nations, the approval rating of the incumbent leaders has fallen from a high of 54 per cent before 2008, to just 37 per cent. One development is quite significant: globalisation produced a huge population of billionaires across the globe. More than 90 of them live in London, one of the highest concentrations in the world. This was the reason that the young voters of London rebelled and voted against the Conservatives.

The fact is that the EU does not intend to lose UK. The remarks of French president Emmanuel Macron are quite significant; "The door to the EU would remain open to Britain during Brexit negotiations". Macron and Verhofstadt were clear that the door would close once Britain formally leaves the EU at the end of Brexit negotiations in March 2019.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council also used the first EU summit since the general election and the start of the Brexit negotiations to suggest that there is a chance the UK could still remain a member of the union. His offer came while the EU leaders called on Theresa May in Brussels to provide clarity on her minority government's intentions.

Tusk quoted the lyrics of John Lennon's Imagine in expressing his hope that Britain could change its mind given recent events. "We can hear different predictions, coming from different people, about the possible outcome of these negotiations: hard Brexit, soft Brexit or no deal". "Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU. I told them that in fact the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve."

While May is for hard Brexit, the EU leaders like other UK leaders are for a soft Brexit. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was hopeful that the UK would seek a soft Brexit. Tusk also added: "It must be clear that the European council is not a forum for the Brexit negotiations, we have our negotiations for this. And thus, leaders will only take note of this intention."

Nevertheless Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, while calling on the government to fight to keep Britain in the single market cautioned May that people of Britain did not give her mandate to go for hard Brexit. Obviously she must focus on soft Brexit. Khan said: "The prime minister sought a mandate from the British people for her version of hard Brexit but the electorate registered their opposition. It's time she heeded the message."

No doubt the Conservatives are trying to shift the Brexit goalposts. Utter confusion grips the political parties and their leaders as to what course ought to be taken at this crucial juncture. There is the general feeling that the government must listen to the will of the people by putting aside ideology, and negotiate a sensible Brexit.

Nevertheless the realistic view prevailing in UK is the Brexit cannot be averted, it can only be softened. A paper calling for a new "continental partnership" has prompted much interest in pro-European circles: it envisages a two-tier Europe, with Britain sitting in an outer tier, enjoying a form of single market membership that nevertheless allows for limits on free movement.

It is expected that the issue of EU citizens who could remain in Britain is likely to be solved amicably. The UK government has also stressed in its Brexit white paper that it wants to "give people the certainty they want ... at the earliest opportunity. It is the right and fair thing to do".

On June 22, May travelled to Brussels to unveil the outline of what she called a "fair and serious" offer to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain. Critics of Brexit, meanwhile, are hoping the government

will uphold another unwritten rule known as the Sewell convention – which requires the assent of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies in matters that affect their devolved powers. During the Queen's speech debate, May conceded that her Brexit legislation may require such a legislative consent motion. (IPA Service)

(Views expressed are strictly personal.)
Arun Srivastava

Arun Srivastava

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