Sputnik ANalysis
Abandon Project Fear!
Brexit May Still Greatly Benefit Britain
Tony Devon
The leaked UK Treasury report that listed the damage to the UK economy of Brexit has sparked a new wave of scaremongering rhetoric by the Remainders in the British Parliament, who continue to irrationally deny almost all positive consequences of Brexit.
Generally, the anti-Brexit movement, masterfully dubbed "Project Fear" by the British tabloids, advances three arguments in support of their doom and gloom rhetoric.

These range from the relatively moderate claims about the economic downturn associated with Brexit through the more radical assertions about Britain losing its global influence and finally to claims that leaving the EU will inevitably lead to the disintegration of the United Kingdom as we know it.

We at Sputnik, however, hold a somewhat more refined view that complex political decisions can rarely be classified as profoundly negative or positive, and Brexit is certainly not an exception, thus this article will counter these arguments, pointing to the ways in which the UK may actually benefit from Brexit.
Economy: Make the City Free Again
It cannot be denied that in its role as an EU member, the British economy certainly benefited from access to the single market and customs union to a certain extent.

However, membership in the EU does not automatically mean economic prosperity and stable growth.

In fact, it entails considerable restrictions on the national economic policies that often obstruct the member states' attempts to increase their economic growth.

For instance, Ireland has been struggling with the European Commission for the right to freely structure its taxation policy in an effort to create favourable conditions for large businesses, such as Apple.

Following Brexit, the UK will be able to shed these restrictions and set its economy free by cutting through the EU red tape, becoming more competitive on the international markets.

In fact, some major tech firms, including Google and Facebook, are already flocking to the UK, bringing both investments and jobs to the table, despite the Remainders' misplaced claims that Brexit will scare off transnational business.
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The City of London will also have its hands untied, once Britain withdraws from the EU, as it will be free to pursue an autonomous course, unrestrained by the myriad of European regulations.

Although is not contested that the end of the withdrawal process will have a notable immediate destabilizing impact on the City, claims that London will lose its status as Europe's financial capital are simply unreasonable.

First, London remains unchallenged by the regional financial hubs, such as Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin.

The City not only competes globally with such heavy hitters as New York, Singapore and Hong Kong, but often takes the lead as the world's financial capital.

According to the latest report by the Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI), which rates 92 financial hubs around the world, London is firmly in the first place as the global financial centre, significantly extending its lead over New York this year.

At the same time, the EU-based centres did not even make it into the top ten, confirming that the experience, infrastructure and potential of the City cannot be duplicated.
Second, as London handles some 40 percent of EU financial assets under management and over 60 per cent of its capital markets dealings, Brussels simply cannot afford to jeopardize the City and it surely understands it.

A leaked report by the EU Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs seen by The Guardian urged the European negotiators to strike "a workable" agreement with the UK Government to protect the City.

"The exclusion of the main European financial centre from the internal market could have consequences in terms of jobs and growth in the EU," the leaked document read.

"It is in the interest of EU 27 and the UK to have an open discussion on this point."

In short, the negative impact of Brexit on the British economy is exaggerated, and the UK is likely to be better off setting itself free from the Brussels-imposed constraints.
Foreign and Security Policy: Make Britain Matter Again
As an EU member, the UK was able to influence the direction of the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy, while enjoying the implicit diplomatic support from other member states in its international relations.

At the same time, Britain was expected to tow the party line when it came to the Brussels-dictated foreign policy and had its unique vision watered down by the rivalling views of other senior EU members.

Leaving the entrenched bloc politics may significantly enhance the UK's footprint on the global arena and on the European continent itself.

First, Brexit distances the UK from the growing divide between the United States, its principal ally in the international arena, and the EU leadership over such issues as NATO defence expenditure, Israeli-Palestinian conflict and climate change.

In fact, Britain may wish to utilize its new autonomy to strengthen its "special relationships" with the US by being more assertive with the EU member states.

For instance, Theresa May did not hold back in pressing other European leaders to increase their defence expenditure up to 2 percent GDP, as required under NATO framework, in an effort to cosy up to Donald Trump, who has long been critical of the "unfair" situation, where only 5 of 28 NATO members spend the required sum on defence.

During the Malta summit last February, the British Prime Minister went toe-to-toe with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-President of France François Hollande, acting as self-proclaimed "bridge to Donald Trump".
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, right, and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May shake hands during a press conference after signing a treaty between Poland and Britain on cooperation in the field of defense and security in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
In addition, Brexit has enabled the UK to pursue independent foreign policy directions with individual EU members, dictated by its own realpolitik interests and not some wider allegiances to the supranational organization.

For example, the UK was free to conclude a landmark defence alliance with Poland last December in order to secure its influence in Eastern Europe, even though EU politicians urged Theresa May to distance itself from Warsaw, which is currently facing a massive backlash from Brussels over the controversial political reforms and its resistance to the imposed migrant quotas.

Similarly, the British Government managed to secure an autonomous border control treaty with France last week, relieving pressure from its security services by precluding the flow of migrants into the UK, who it would otherwise have had to accept under the EU quota system.
Sovereignty: Make the Kingdom United Again
Brexit has certainly had a short-term negative impact on the sovereignty of the UK, revitalizing calls for Scottish independence due to the strength of the pro-EU sentiment in the Highlands.

In the long-term, however, Brexit may prove to be the final nail in the coffin of anti-Unionist tendencies in Britain.

After losing the independence referendum in September 2014, the Scottish nationalists held onto the idea of a re-run, owing to the relative narrowness of the result (55.3 percent against, 44.7 percent in favour).

Following the Brexit vote, the pro-independence movement gained new strength in part because of the provocative rhetoric by some leading EU politicians, which remains the last thread by which the idea of Scottish independence still holds.

For instance, the Union's Chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt proclaimed that "Europe hasn't forgotten that a large majority of the Scottish people voted to remain" and stated that the EU "cannot afford" to lose Scotland.

However, the truth of the matter is that for all their good words, the EU leaders are simply unwilling to seriously encourage the Scottish independence movement due to the growing independence movements within their own member states.
The clearest evidence is the Union's cautious handling of the Catalonia crisis in October, as it generally distanced itself from the controversial referendum and failed to condemn the Spanish government's crackdown on the pro-independence demonstrators that injured about a thousand people.

Given the pockets of dormant separatism in the founding member states, such as Belgium and Italy, what the EU really cannot afford is supporting the pro-independence movement in Scotland, as it risks disintegration of those countries.

In fact, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon has faced numerous obstacles from the EU leadership in her attempts to renew the pro-independence drive.

First, the Scottish leader was snubbed by European Council President Donald Tusk, who refused to meet her, during the crucial EU summit in June 2016, immediately after the Brexit referendum.

More recently, European Commission's Head of Representation in the United Kingdom Jacqueline Minor dismissed the idea of Scotland automatically gaining EU membership upon independence.
As the SNP is facing little substance behind the words of encouragement from the EU officials, the pro-independence sentiment is gradually slipping away.

This is reflected in the poor performance of the SNP in the 2017 General Elections, where the party suffered considerable losses, shrinking by some 21 parliamentary seats.

These developments have compelled Sturgeon to postpone the second referendum plan until after Brexit is complete.

By that time, however, the lack of substantive support from the EU leadership is likely to have irreversibly undermined the anti-Unionist movement, securing sovereignty and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom once and for all.
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