UK-Brexit vote will have far-reaching geostrategic ramifications

FPI / December 20, 2019

[Editor’s note: Britain’s new Parliament on Friday voted overwhelmingly to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit accord, a significant step toward the country’s departure from the European Union on Jan. 31.]

Excerpts from analysis by Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs

The Dec. 12 general election in the United Kingdom overwhelmingly endorsing the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also a pivotal global strategic event.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. / AFP / Getty Images

Impact on the EU

The withdrawal from the European Union (EU) of the world’s fifth-largest economy severely degrades an already stagnating EU economy, in which the UK was essentially the only positively-performing economy.

The government was freed from having to heed earlier demands of the opposition Labour Party — which had its worst electoral performance since 1935 — that the UK must leave the EU with some kind of “deal” binding the UK into EU laws and into a predetermined customs union.

The election resoundingly endorsed a straight Brexit, which, to give Britain the maximum flexibility, could be close to a “no-deal” Brexit. It was now up to the EU itself to scramble to accommodate the UK to avoid an economic collapse on the continent, prompting other EU members to consider withdrawal from the Union.

Impact on NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) becomes, again, a potentially significant organization, because it will be given teeth by the U.S. and UK. This has begun to meld with a recognition by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg — expressed at the Dec. 3-4 summit in London — that a major threat to alliance members was from the People’s Republic of China’s new strategic weapons. This re-purposes NATO.

It gives an opportunity to formally re-task the alliance for focus in the IndoPacific, something to which Prime Minister Johnson has already committed the UK, as has French President Emmanuel Macron. What is significant is that this tacitly comprehends is a diminishing of the perceived threat of a Russian aggressive military posture toward Continental European states.

Western media portrays U.S. President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Johnson as figures to be dismissed by NATO, but the core of NATO rests with the U.S. and UK.

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