The UK must continue to face outwards, during and after Brexit

TitelThe UK must continue to face outwards, during and after Brexit
Typ der PublikationWeb Article
Publikationsjahr2016
AutorInnenVernon, P
Untertitel / SerientitelPolicy and Analysis
VerlagInternational Alert
StadtLondon
Kurztext

International Alert blog - 5 July 2016 - The UK is now on course to leave the European Union after the Brexit referendum vote just over a week ago. Plenty has already been written and said about why most people voted to leave.

Suffice it here to say that oversimplification would be a mistake, and that the referendum gave people an opportunity to say many different things. Different people had different reasons for wanting the country to leave: a protest vote, a two-fingers to bankers and the metropolitan elite, a desire for more democracy, concerns about incomes, jobs, farming, fishing, immigration, housing, red tape, a delayed reaction to the de-industrialisation of thirty years ago… or perhaps a wish to bring back some version of the past they either recall, imagine they recall, or have read or heard about. These are not new issues, and only time will tell which of these wishes will be granted.

In the background is the idea that we have managed globalisation and liberalisation – progress, perhaps – poorly; that the move towards a more liberal, internationalist world in the past few decades has hurt vulnerable people economically and emotionally, and that not enough attention has been paid to mitigating or managing this. Too many people are excluded from the fruits of progress, therefore they do not see it as progress. Hence the sense in many parts of the world, that people want something different: nationalist politics and isolationism in the rich world, even as growing numbers of people in poorer countries vote with their feet to seek a better life elsewhere. And hence the sense of ‘greed and grievance’ causing conflicts: grievance on the part of the excluded and disempowered, and greed on the part of those wanting to protect and enhance their access to benefits in the status quo.

In the meantime, our planet seems an increasingly threatening and threatened neighbourhood, with a troubling present and future in which economic and demographic trends are placing more and more stress on the natural environment and political institutions (often themselves in flux, thus weakened) which are too fragile to cope. Something has got to give, and we see evidence of this in war and crisis in the Middle East and Afghanistan, worrying behaviour by Russia in Ukraine, and China in the South China Seas; and more subtly but no less harmful for that, in countless other political, social and economic conflicts around the world, including chronic violence linked to poor governance and organised crime.

It is salutary to recall that according to the World Bank, 1.5 billion people live in places affected by violent conflict, which threatens their human rights and holds them back from development progress.

So what are the implications of Brexit for the UK’s role as a force for peace in the world?

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