Recently the biggest blows to the European Project.Because until

Recently regarding the British Foreign Policy the biggest concern has been the issue
of leaving the European Union with the starting decision taken by the citizens
of the UK and the government, especially Teresa May who was in remain side
during the campaigning term was respectful for the decision of the voters in
the referendum of 2016 and she added “Brexit means Brexit” to respect the decision
of her citizens.It was an enormous shock in the international system,
especially in the European area and also it was one of the biggest blows to the
European Project.Because until the day of 23th of June 2016, there
was no official attempt to leave the EU and on the other hand the EU was always
adapted to gain new members, not to lose.

The decision to leave the EU definitely shaped
and transformed the existing and future British Foreign Policy.In this article
first of all I would like to touch on the process of the UK’s EU membership and
I would like to underline how was the UK’s attitude to be a member in the second
half of the 20th century. Later on, I would like to mention Theresa
May’s letter as a starting point of Brexit process and British Foreign Policy’s
strength and weaknesses on some aspects. I should also state that due to the process of Brexit is not
concluded yet, sometimes I evaluated the situation by talking about likelihoods.

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The UK’s Membership to the EU

Today’s
discontentedness and Brexit
of the UK with the EU is actually a direct reflection of the relations with the
union from the early begining.Therefore examining the membership process and
the term after being a member will let us to better comprehend the UK’s policy
with the EU.

After the Second World War there were many big
changes regarding the EU position and situation. The UK was a victorious power
of the war, however it was also exhausted of fighting. And the UK was neither an empire nor a superpower
anymore.Thereby he was not able to change the order in the international
system, what should be done was being in the same line with a superpower.

 According to the UK’s new position after the
War, there were 3 great circles that highly mattered British Foreign Policy as Winston S. Churchill stated in his speech in the conservative mass
meeting of 19481.The
existence of 3 great circles was crucial among free nations and democracies
about the future of the UK.The important thing for Churchill was generally
establishing a balance on the relationship with the 3 circles.Firstly British
Commonwealth and Empire, secondly English speaking world (such as the US,
Canada, Australia and other British Dominions) and thirdly a united Europe was
significant.Taking lessons from the consequences of the Second World War, in
Churchill’s opinion these 3 great circles were co-existent and when they achieved
to be able to stand together there could be no other power to challenge them.And
Churchill found the UK lucky for staying in the intersection of these 3 circles
(in the center of seaways and airways).Thereby following the policy accordingly
would be so precious.

During Churchill’s period, the UK’s foreign
policy was supporting the integration of European countries especially with the
direct contribution of Churchill, however the UK’s independence and sovereignty
was primarily important, thereby Churchill did not include the UK to the
integration process, we can see this in his speech of Zurich in 1946.

These 3 majestic circles served well in the
policy of the UK, enabled the UK to navigate its transition from imperial to
post-imperial power, to manage the hardships of the Cold War and to  negotiate uncertainties of its aftermath.So
the success of the UK was supported by the dynamism of Churchill.

Churchill’s message was crystal clear as he
was implying that Britain should always pursue to engage politically,
economically and institutionally with America, Europe and Commonwealth
countries, and also if the tie of one circle weakens then it can destroy all
the ties with all the circles. However, now one of the 3 circles is in the process
of damaging.

If we want to summarize the policy of the Cold
War era, there were 2 big actors(the EU and the US) the UK required to have a
perfect relationship. Regarding the topic of the article, it will be sufficient
to explain only the UK’s relationship with the EU.On this point, there should
be a united Europe that is united for all the European countries and the UK
should be a member of the union.However this was not tendency of the UK in
1950s(regarding the founding treaties of the EU 1951 and 1957) due to the fact
of relationship with the Commonwealth countries and at the same time the UK was
much more favoring a union based on economic cooperation without posing any
obstacle against its sovereignty.

After recognizing the successful economic
development of the European communities in the 1960s, the UK’s keeping itself
isolated from the integration process policy was not an issue anymore, the UK
applied to be a member in 1961 and in 1967, but all these applications were
rejected by Charles De Gaulle, just because the UK was filled with problems and
was heavily dependent on the US with a special relationship.Later in 1973, the
UK eventually achieved his goal on being a member of Europe by joining the European
Economic Community.This way, the UK was able to preserve its foreign policy
interests  through a bigger organization.

In the 1970s, the inflation in the UK was
above %13, and due to the petroleum crises the economy was not fine, moreover
suspects over the government were top.Under these circumstances,  the UK firstly had gone to the referendum for
the first time in 1975.And the result was to remain in the community with %67.One
of the biggest difference between 1975 and 2016 referandum was that, media landscape
was not so benign for the pro-EU camp in 2016.In 1975’s case the communist
Morning Star was the only newspaper backed to leave the community.However in
2016’s case The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express, the Daily Telegraph all
supporting to leave.2

British Foreign Policy in Respect of
Brexit Process

For any member of the EU who demands to leave
the union directly needs to invoke the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.This
article mentions how to leave the EU.Basically, it frames 2 years of time
period for the agreement process and also underlines that decison needs to be
approved by 27 member states and also by the European Parliment.

                29th of March, 2017  Theresa May’s letter was handed to Donald
Tusk.This letter was constitutively setting the
objectives of Britain for the Brexit period and future relations with the EU by
invoking the Article 50.However despite the fact that 2 years of negotiation
term is prescribed in the Article 50, however Theresa May stated that the process
would take 2 and more years3.This
6 pages missive at the same time not only has a historical significance but
also reflects the draft of British Foreign Policy criteria regarding the EU.The
letter generally talks about security partnerships, future relationship with
the EU and protecting the UK rights living in the EU.

                In the first paragraph of the letter
Theresa May underlines that the UK is leaving the EU not Europe and she adds
that the UK wants the EU to prosper and succeed by the support of the UK’s good
will.The UK knows that leaving the EU will negatively cost on some aspects due
to not being a member state anymore, that’s why Mrs. May’s intention is to
comfort the EU on a highly critical issue of leaving and she tries to show
there is no hard feeling of Brexit issue toward the EU. Seven times in the
letter the term of “deep and
special partnership” is stressed, we can easily realize how important for the
UK to reconstruct a special relationship with the EU on economic and security cooperation.In
the following parts, she mentions on the necessity of striking an agreement about
British citizens living in Europe and other member citizens living in the UK.Generally
speaking on this letter, British Foreign Policy is inclined to calm the EU
about this leave and tries to keep the previous strengths of being a member.

Brexit is a
decision both has potential risks, dangers, downsides and potential
opportunities,  benefits.So after taking
such a decision, what the UK should do is pondering well on circumstances,
taking swift and bold actions in order to start a new lease of life and also to
eridicate the rumour of Brexit as a sense of isolationism.And the biggest
threat to trade interests could be created from an isolated policy, so it is
actually not likely for the UK and it is clear that the UK will erase this kind
of rumours with a proactive attitude in the international system.Regarding the
Brexit’s downsides, the UK foreign policy should be concentrated on to change
them to new opportunuties.For example, the UK will be in the pursue of new
partners for collaborations (maybe China or India) and also the UK could
improve its relations with the US, all the European countries, this way the UK
could achieve to receive the best result from the negotiation term.

The UK’s
position in the international organizations actually did not change except
Brexit.The UK still keeps its membership in the UN, in the G7 countries, NATO
and Commonwealth.In this aspect, the UK still has significance on international
issues.Looking at the fact that in 2015, the UK committed itself to the target
of %2 of GDP required by NATO countries4,
so the UK more likely to keep on increasing its defense and security position
to take bigger role in NATO and to take hard defense role.Actually, Britain is
already good at defense and one of the main priorities for the UK after Brexit
will be showing the commitment to NATO.NATO sees the UK as a core member and
also the US respects the UK as being a partner.So after the Brexit in contrast
to the less allocating national income to the national security in the
post-Cold War years, now the UK’s policy might be much more inclined to
increase investment on military issues to make the success.Generally speaking, Brexit
somehow generates conditions for strengthening NATO.

Brexit could
support a new momentum for the benefit of the special relationship with the US,
and the UK will find more space to increase this relationship independently.This
way the UK could soften or prevent the undesirable sanctions caused due to
Brexit negotiation term.At the same time, the UK is still the second strongest
military power in the West and US’ ally on issues with Russia, Middle East etc.However,
the UK should balance it not to be an increased dependent partner of the
US.Here actually there is already an entanglement of China and China related
issues.Because the ambition to have a golden era relationship with China was
firstly coined by the ex-chancellor George Osborne and now Theresa May is also
supporting the term, so this could lead the special relationship to a dead
end.On the other hand, China proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB)
to compete with US-led World Bank and IMF.This new bank not only increased the
tension between the US and China but also between the UK and the US, just
because the UK is a regional member of AIIB from the date of 25th of
December 2015.

The UK
government is decided on leaving the trade agreement and customs union of the
EU’s single market which is a lucrative system gives member countries free
movement of goods, people etc.; on the other hand, it is the underlying reason
of the recent increasing number of migrants in the country especially in the
south-east.Actually, the UK is hosting a high rate of skilled immigrants and
this directly boosts the UK’s economy.Instead of that, Mrs.May is considering
to arrange a new trade agreement which allows free flow of goods but also
cracks down on immigration from Europe.Therefore if Mrs.May really could
achieve to end the negotiation process as she considers, then this could be
very beneficial for the UK.And regarding the EU members development, this could
cause a halt in the single market. However there is no guarantee that the UK
could have a more open trade policy and single market.

In the new
atmosphere, the system of the UK will likely to be more adapted to receive the
most skilled workers and of course it will reduce the number of inward
immigrants.But this would damage the economy of the UK as well, especially the
sectors related to the EU.And at the end of the negotiation process, two sides
could conclude to a form of free movement just like the way the EU and Norway
or Switzerland have.

 Although being in the European Union
was advantageous for British citizens on the right of moving, working, living,
investing etc. in other European countries, being granted many protections as
consumers, they were not happy about the position of their undermined national
citizenship comparing to the EU citizenship.It is likely that after the
decision of Brexit, British law makers will rearrange the state’s law on
consumer rights and protections.So from now on British citizens won’t be able
to enjoy the previous rights and protections, especially those who are living
in the European countries.However, there is also one possibility that the
British industry could be in EU competition law, because the EU even sometimes
can apply this law to those companies who do not belong to EU countries.

                For British, the EU was not
democratic in the sense of law-making.There was a compulsory situation for
Britain to apply the laws that EU enacted, it does not matter whether the UK
find the law applicable or not.And the EU law(for ex. judgments and directives
from the European Court of Justice) always has the superiority of law in terms
of any contradiction between the UK and the EU laws.Moreover, decision making
in the Council of the EU and also in the process of decision making how much
the EU pays regard to the UK Parliment’s views are all unknown and secretive.So
leaving the EU will definitely let the UK implement the laws in its own accord
and erase the superiority of the EU law above the UK’s law.On the other hand,
to access the single market of the EU, the UK maybe again have to accept the EU
rules.This will be clear at the end of the Brexit negotiations.

                The EU unequivocally is a key
player in the WTO regarding the governing the trade and making laws.Directly
the UK’s membership of the EU makes the UK influential on trade-related issues
almost without having any downsides.Leaving the EU forces the UK to turn its
face to other fast-growing markets like China and India.Here the bright side is
the UK can implement new tariffs with these non-EU countries to import cheaper
products.But not being in the EU anymore will put the UK in a weaker position
for new negotiation processes with non-EU countries, they may not pay the
previous priority for the UK anymore.More of that, there is a camel’s nose
between China and the UK about steel and alleged Chinese damping.

                Regarding the peace and security
issues, under the roof of the EU collectively taking actions gives the UK an
international influence. The EU uses diplomacy and peace-keeping forces to
contribute the stability in areas mostly in the leadership of the UK, like in
Balkans, Noth Africa etc.After the Brexit, the UK can decide on its own
security priorities on its own; on the other hand, this could limit the UK’s
influence on security issues when EU countries collaborate on defense issues in
a way to undermine NATO.The UK will be pleased with the new situation, because
this way the UK will be able to distance itself from some aspects of European
Foreign and Security Policy which the UK finds flawed and damaging NATO.Therefore
in the following years, the UK will think about a new special relationship with
the EU on foreign and security policy and re-examining NATO’s command structure
may be primary.

                The UK joined terrible memories
of Iraq and Afghanistan invasions which are challenging to the reputation of
the country and perceived as serious mistakes of the UK’s policy.In my opinion,
these terrible memories will not prevent the UK from joining new military
operations in the following years, having the Brexit will also contribute to
this.The UK will be interested in taking interventions if the intervention is
perceived as necessary.Of course, for the next possible interventions, the UK
will be much more cautious.

                Remaining or leaving the EU both
have pros and cons when we take a look at it in a financial perspective.On the
bright side membership of the EU contributed to public finances of the UK by
tax revenue.At the same time, the UK is a net contributor to the EU budget by
paying the membership fee.Just after Germany, the UK comes as the second member
who pays more to the EU5.Actually,
this amount of money was reduced during Margaret Thatcher term.However,
generally the UK pays more for the EU than the UK receives from the EU.Due to
Brexit, the UK is not able to direct the EU budget to the areas where the UK
can receive more benefit and also can not receive any money from the EU
programmes.But on the other hand, now the UK is able to spend the membership
fee for other areas.And also the UK may still have to contribute to the EU,
like Norway, to access to the single market.

                In
the following years, Brexit could provoke Scotland and Northern Ireland to
leave the UK.These two regions were not on the side of leaving the EU, and just
after 2016 referendum result was published, authorities in Scotland declared
that their aim is to take any constitutional option other
than independence into consideration in securing Scotland’s place in the EU6.In
my opinion, firstly Scotland will try to preserve its position both in the EU
and in the UK, but if Scotland can not find a new formula for this, Scotland
may leave the UK and then apply for the membership of the EU.Regarding Northern
Ireland, there is a possiblity of leaving the UK and then Northern Ireland can
unite with the rest of the Ireland.So Brexit has weakness on the British
Foreign Policy by creating political instability and division in the UK.

                For more than 40 years of
membership, the UK and the British people have never taken the EU Project to
heart, they always showed a low level of willingness to acknowledge the EU
identity and British identity has always had the superiority7,
thereby this was not an unexpected decision.It is clear that Brexit was a
decision of the British Foreign Policy to be less bothered with the problem of
the rest of the world, especially the EU’s problems.And the consequence of the
Brexit is still ambiguous about the British Foreign Policy’s strengths and
weaknesses.It will take years to figure out how the new British Foreign Policy
will be exactly shaped.But it is clear that relationship with Europe, even when
leaving the EU, still will be heavily invested in political, economical and
security arrangements that exist on the continent.

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Winston S. Churchill,
‘Conservative Mass Meeting: a speech at Llandudno, 9 October 1948’, Europe
Unite:speeches 1947 & 1948, London : Cassell, 1950, p. 416-418

2 CURTICE John, Why
Leave Won the UK’s EU Referendum, Journal of Common Market Studies, Page 26

3 STONE Jon, Britain
Could Miss 2019 Deadline of Leaving the EU, Independent, 19 October 2016

4 BEW John and
ELEFTERIU Gabriel, Making  Sense of
British Foreign Policy After Brexit, July 2016, Page3

5 The UK in a Changing Europe , Colloboration study on Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunuties, Threats of the UK’s membership of the EU, Page 21

6 KOLÇAK Harun, Associate Statehood for Scotland as the Way to Stay in
both the United Kingdom and the European Union: the Liechtenstein Example, No.
1, June 2017, Page 45

7 John
CURTICE, Why Leave Won the UK’s EU Referendum, JCMS 2017 Volume 55.Annual
Review, pp.21 Table 1