Analysis & Opinions - WalletHub

Is Brexit Good Or Bad? Experts Pick A Side

| August 4, 2016


Wallethub had a debate about Britain's referendum to leave the European Union. Professor Joseph Nye was one of the contributors.

When Britain voted last month to leave the European Union, the results of the national referendum were non-binding, but they sent shock waves throughout the British economy and around world markets. Britain remains the world's fifth largest economy, but when added to the EU, the two economies form the world's largest market, exceeding even the United States.

The results of the election were close, with the side favoring British exit prevailing over those who wished to remain by 52 to 48 per cent. As interesting as the final result was the way in which opinion was split in the country. Polls showed younger people preferred to remain in the European Union while older people favored leaving. Geographically, cosmopolitan London heavily favored remaining. More ominous, Scotland strongly favored remaining in Europe and many Scots have said that if England carries out the plan to leave, Scotland should secede from Britain and remain in Europe.

Nothing changes legally until Britain invokes Article 50 of the EU treaty which triggers a two-year period to negotiate the terms of the separation. Untangling economic integration and negotiating new trade arrangements will not be easy. Some British commentators argue that because the decision is not legally binding, Parliament should ignore it, but Prime Minister Theresa May says that the will of the people cannot be ignored. Brexit will continue. Others hope that with possible new elections, and prolonged negotiations, the game may not be over.

The geopolitical consequences of Brexit may not appear immediately. The EU might temporarily pull together, but there will be damage to its sense of mission and to Europe's soft power of attraction. Problems of financial stability and dealing with immigration may become harder to manage. Britain might see not only a revival of Scottish separatism, but an acceleration of its inward turning trends of recent years. And over the longer run, the effects on the global balance of power and the liberal international order will be negative.

Faced with a rising power in China, a declining but risk acceptant power in Russia that is meddling in European politics, and the prospect of prolonged turmoil in the Middle East, close cooperation between Europe and the United States will be crucial to maintaining a stable international order over the long term. If Brexit weakens Europe and weakens Britain, it will make that task more difficult.

The entire debate is available here:

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Nye, Joseph S. Jr..“Is Brexit Good Or Bad? Experts Pick A Side.” WalletHub, August 4, 2016.