But all that was baked in before
Davis and Johnson left. All that has been baked in since the Brexit vote. As the Greeks discovered at the beginning of their crisis, you cannot vote yourself rich… but you can totally vote yourself poor. There was zero chance the EU was ever going to grant the Brits the benefits of membership without the costs. Brexiteers like Davis and Johnson who claimed otherwise were either lying, stupid, or suffering from head injuries. The only options before the Brits now are reneging on Brexit (not politically possible), and a hard Brexit. And so a hard Brexit is the only road forward.
This is not
a condemnation of the Brexit vote. I see the entire global system crashing down in the next one to four years. The Bretton Woods Order – the basis for that system – is an artificial construct the Americans designed, created, maintained and subsidized to fight the Cold War. They’ve been backing away from the Order for three decades, and they are now abandoning it wholesale. It would have happened without Trump, although probably a bit more slowly and without the…flair.
That means that everything in the global system that was predicated upon the Order will need to find a new basis for existence. Europe has two big Order-dependent things. NATO – which may well formally collapse at this week’s summit – and the European Union. There is no way that an export-based union of mutually antagonistic countries whose security is guaranteed by an outside power can survive in an environment in which those exports are impossible and the security guarantor leaves. The EU was going down anyway
which means the Brits had to figure out their way in the world anyway
. Brexit means they get a head start on the rest of Europe. Recent developments haven’t brought disaster, they’ve brought clarity.
Yes folks, a hard Brexit is the best
-case scenario for the United Kingdom because it forces the Brits to move on now
. So yes folks, a three-year depression that knocks a country’s GDP down by one-fifth is probably the best-case scenario for anyone dependent upon the Order as the world slides into Disorder.
I expect the Brits to come out of this better than nearly everyone. For two centuries they ran a globe-spanning empire that was the largest economic entity ever (at least until the Americans came of age). If there is one country that knows how to operate in a disorderly world, without continent-spanning trade pacts, where military and economic power are often fused, that has already stitched together a strategic security plan
, it is the United Kingdom.
But that doesn’t mean the road from here to there won’t royally suck.