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The monthly bulletin of LEAP (European Laboratory of Political Anticipation) - 15 Mar 2018

United Kingdom 2019: What if Brexit proved to be a success story?

So far, the media and political analysts have been unanimous: Brexit represents an uncertain and dangerous future only for the UK. Our readers know that we have always been more circumspect about this. Now that the first phase of negotiations has been completed (at the end of last year) and the second phase is about to start, it is time to admit that this exit from the EU also opens up many opportunities for the UK and that it creates new risks for the EU. Within this second phase of negotiations, which will focus on the transition period and the future relationship between the two parties, the balance of power could indeed reverse. The British government, criticised for lack of clarity and realism since the beginning, clarified a number of points through Theresa May on 2nd March and set out a concrete exit plan.

The EU Commission, for its part, is becoming less and less cooperative and imposing requirements that some judge to be unrealistic (e.g. the impossibility for the UK to start negotiating trade agreements during the transitional period; the demand that the customs barrier be moved from the Irish border to that between N Ireland and Great Britain). If the EU remains blind to the progress made by the UK for too long and shows a base spirit of revenge (intended to scare other countries), it could cause a backlash capable of triggering precisely what it wishes to avoid – a domino effect.

Brexit constituted a major failure of the European Commission – one which required it to start its own reform, rather than taking revenge on the United Kingdom. If, instead, we find ourselves in 2019 in a situation where the United Kingdom, released from the Brussels tutelage, has repositioned itself successfully (dynamic image; modern and turned towards the rest of the world) while the EU is still floundering in the same malfunctions, blockages and slowness which made the UK run away, what do you think will happen? 

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