Brexit is all the dun, but UK ambition seems out already

London – It took 11 grueling months for UK and EU negotiators Post-Brexit deal. But in many cases, the deal is already four and a half years old.

The world has changed radically since June 2016, when a majority of people in Britain voted to leave the European Union, lured by an argument that the country would prosper by throwing out the bureaucratic hut of Brussels.

In those days, the vision of an agile, independent Britain – to develop profitable, next-generation industries such as artificial intelligence and cut its own trade deals with the United States, China and others – was a lucrative sales pitch. Brexit’s buccaneers promised to create a “Global Britain”.

This was preceded by the immigrant and anti-global fuel surge of President Trump and other populist leaders who erect barriers to trade and immigration and turn to countries. Before the coronovirus epidemic exposed the vulnerabilities of far-flung supply chains, calls to refuel and reverse globalism to bring strategic industries back home.

On a worrying morning of 2021, the buccaneers are out of fashion. The world is now dominated by three arrogant economic defects – the United States, China and the European Union. Britain has finalized its divorce from one of them, separating it at a time when the road ahead seems more dangerous than it once was.

Thomas Wright, director of the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, said, “The whole ‘Global Britain’ model does not have a more protectionist, nationalist world in which we are living.” “Becoming a global free trader in 2016 is like turning into a communist in 1989. It’s a bad time.”

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson leads Britain into the post-Brexit future, they also risk being out politically.

The Brexit agreement with the European Union comes at the same moment as President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is replacing Mr. Trump’s credit for “America First” with a message to combine and collaborate to tackle global health and climate change issues.

While the deal averages tariffs and quotas on goods crossing the English Channel, it disagrees about neighbors who had become deeply integrated over four decades. Analysts say other areas such as security and diplomacy are bound to weaken relations between the two sides.

“Biden wants to see coalitions and multilateralism and cooperation and Brexit goes completely against him,” said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. “Brexit graduates in a more difficult political context where it is running against grain.”

Mr Trump appeased Britain’s drive to separate itself from the European Union. As a reward, he promised to negotiate a trade deal with Mr. Johnson, which he personally cultivated. But Mr Biden opposed Brexit and refused to negotiate new trade agreements until the United States improved its competitive position. This clarifies one of the key selling points of Brexit.

Mr. Johnson has pivoted Highlighting other ways that Britain can work with the United States. It is increasing military spending to play NATO’s strengthening and host role at the United Nations climate summit next year, which will give Mr. Biden a platform to re-engage the United States in the climate challenge.

Britain has also stood by the United States and promoted itself as a champion of democratic values ​​in places like Hong Kong. But in a less hospitable world, it cannot find many allies for that kind of work.

“Who are clear partners for them?” Mr. Wright said. “Four years ago, they could have called Brazil, but Brazil is now run by Bolsonaro,” he said, with the populist president, Zaire Bolsonaro.

There is also a limit to how Britain can engage in a confrontation with autocratic states like China and Russia. Its changing relationship with China reflects its diminished stature.

Britain once hoped that its free-agent status would allow it to develop a thriving trade relationship with Beijing, unaffected by goods from the European Union or the United States. But under Mr Trump’s pressure on Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s role in the 5G network, Britain has largely abandoned China’s cultivation, in line with the more hostile position of the United States.

The European Union, by contrast, continues to negotiate a landmark investment treaty with China, a target of Germans who want more control over their companies’ Chinese operations. Last-minute objections made by Mr. Biden’s colleague are giving second thoughts to Europeans, but Germany’s drive to complete the deal before the end of the year goes to its more confident position.

In 2016, Brexit was embraced by three different factions in British politics, said Matthias Mathews, professor of international political economy at John Hopkins University: anti-right immigration figures like Nigel Faraj; Conservative free trader in the conservative party; And some on the left, who hoped that the move would provide money to subsidize factory jobs in the country’s industrial north and that in any case, the EU would be perceived as a Bankers’ Club with Britain out of the well. Was.

“It is unclear whether the signing of this EU trade agreement will give them more freedom to do so,” Mr Mathews said of the subsidy, noting that Britain had agreed to it by force How much state aid can do for the industry.

He said that the paradox is that Britain is breaking away from the European Union at a time when Germany and France’s two largest economies are adopting some of the principles of industrial policy that inspired Brexit.

The epidemic has once again forced Brussels to rethink what initially began as a $ 913 billion coronavirus rescue package – ideas pushed by Brexiters such as Mr Johnson’s former advisor, Dominic Cummings Brings closer to. He was an architect of a plan to use public funds for Britain’s economically disadvantaged “public level” in the north with its more prosperous south.

Freeing itself from the constraints of Brussels was one of the biggest attractions of Brexit. Instead, the UK faces a much larger competitor, which, like the UK, is bent on transforming its economies into digital and “green” technology – and is more open to using state aid to do so.

Another irony of Brexit is that Europe, torn apart by Mr Trump’s unilateral policies, has begun to echo some of the language used by Brexiters in 2016. French President Emmanuel Macron and others have spoken of necessity “European sovereignty” In front of a less reliable United States. Mr. Johnson rewrote his talks with Brussels to reclaim British sovereignty.

The UK still has indisputable advantages as it is a new curriculum. Despite being devastated by the epidemic, its economy is flexible and resilient, at least relative to the people of the European continent. It was the first Western country to approve the virus vaccine, while the European Union is denied the need to move its members together.

Mr Mathews predicted that Britain’s economy would return faster after the epidemic than in Germany or France, which he said would be characteristic of the freedom gained by the loose tremors of Brexiters Brussels.

Britain’s independence also gives it a chance to be experimental in its relations with other countries. For example, Mr Wright said the Biden administration might be interested in negotiating a different kind of economic understanding with Britain than the old-fashioned free trade agreement.

“They are well positioned to be the guinea pig for this,” he said.

Britain, after all, simply negotiated a deal unique in the history of business diplomacy – one that brings together, rather than separate, partners. Analysts said its potential is a sign of hope for its ability to re-shape itself again.

Still, “the world of June 2016 is not today’s world,” Mr. Wright said. “They know that well, deep down.”

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