THE MEANING OF BREXIT
AN INTERVIEW WITH IAN BREMMER
DAVID CAMERON completed his EU renegotiation just days ago and yet, as some of us predicted, already it is receding into the distance. As the campaign gets underway, the focus has moved off the prime minister’s respectable but inevitably modest achievements in Brussels and onto the big arguments. What would a Brexit mean for the country, and for Europe? Would it leave it stronger or weaker? What sort of role should Britain seek to play in the world over the coming decades? One particularly lively fault line in Westminster (albeit perhaps not on the doorsteps) divides those who would leave the EU to forge better relations with Anglophone and emerging powers on other continents from those who believe Britain’s EU membership is a stepping stone to the wider world.
To help make sense of these choices, last week (as Mr Cameron was finalising his renegotiation) I sat down with Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, and a foreign policy guru. I asked him about what Britain’s decision on June 23rd would mean for its role on the global stage and why partners like the United States are taking such a close interest in the outcome. His answers together amount to a grave warning of the risks of an “Out” vote.
Mr Bremmer argued that:
NB: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
BAGEHOT: What would Brexit look like for Britain? What does it mean if we vote to leave?
IAN BREMMER: Think about how much time that’s going to take; every other piece of legislation that you thought was relevant is suddenly thrown under a bus until they get through that discussion. Well, it’s that times ten. I think that’s one thing. The second thing is that it’s the further marginalisation of Britain as a power with influence, whether that is true diplomatically, economically or militarily (with the United States or more broadly). Now the US relationship is already weaker than it used to be, because the US see the Germans as generally more important and relevant, and the Brits have wanted to make themselves China’s best friends in the West.
BAGEHOT: I joined George Osborne on his recent trip to Beijing. It was a whole different approach.