Illusions about the UK’s special relationship with the United States and a supposedly painless Brexit have been shed. The inability of Boris Johnson’s government to face up to that makes it impossible to define a new role for Britain in the world.
The coming months may well see more bitterness and friction in UK-EU relations. These tensions threaten to unravel the fragile 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which has largely kept violence at bay in Northern Ireland.
Brexit Britain is discovering that its influence and ability to tackle global challenges have diminished. As reality sinks in, it could change the way Britain thinks and acts—very possibly for the better.
The loud boasts of defiance by the British government toward the EU have given way to the quieter language of negotiation. The outcome will determine just how much post-Brexit sovereignty London will have.
Brexit is destabilizing Northern Ireland. London’s pursuit of a hard Brexit and the return of border politics could unravel the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the province’s conflict. It might need the United States to rescue the accord.
Brexit may well contribute to the breaking up of the United Kingdom. Only a brave gambler would bet on both Scotland and Northern Ireland still belonging to the UK in 2040.
International politics saw a surge in new words and a return of old expressions. Going through some of them gives us a flavor of the year of 2020, which few of us will look back to with nostalgia.*
Level playing field or no access to the EU’s single market? With Brexit talks in the final stages, one solution for a UK-EU trade deal seems within reach—but only if it allows for both sides to claim victory.
The UK’s economic relationship with the EU will change profoundly. Instead of open trade, Britain is heading for a hard Brexit that will have dire consequences for its economy and role as a trading nation.
With the UK government’s proposal of an internal market bill that could breach international law and derail negotiations with the EU, Britain is in the first stages of a profound and potentially dangerous upheaval.
The rapidly eroding trust between the UK and the EU casts a dark shadow over the future of European foreign policy cooperation. But as the eventful summer of 2020 has shown, that cooperation is much needed.
With the pandemic messing up the Brexit negotiations and weakening the British prime minister, prospects for a wide-ranging UK-EU deal by the end of 2020 are vanishing fast.
For the European Union to become a global player without Britain, there must be a major shift of alliances and direction inside the bloc.
Boris Johnson’s sweeping election victory brings clarity for Britain but not for Europe as it enters a decade of major geostrategic shifts.
With four weeks to go, the UK is experiencing not only its most important election in living memory, but its most unpredictable—and one in which a minority of voters could impose Brexit on the majority.
If Hong Kong was promised “one country, two systems,” the Good Friday Agreement promised “two countries, one market” for the island of Ireland. After two decades, both settlements are fraying badly.
The damage Brexit is inflicting on Northern Ireland and the Republic will become Europe’s newest neighborhood crisis.
Brexit could wreck Britain’s centuries-old character of alternating rule by large, ideologically capacious parties. If so, the irony is that British politics will end up resembling politics in much of the rest of Europe.
Boris Johnson could end up being the English leader who allowed the breakup of the UK to achieve Brexit. There are lessons in the dissolution of two other unions, the USSR and Czechoslovakia, and the role played by Boris Yeltsin and Václav Klaus.
To deal with Iran and the Middle East, Britain needs EU support as much as the EU needs a serious defense and security policy. Neither will materialize when the summer pause ends.*