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Brexit already weakening UK’s global influence, says study

The study says that Brexit has exacerbated concerns about the legitimacy of the UK’s permanent seat on the UN security council.

world Updated: Feb 19, 2019 21:33 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
A new study claims that Brexit has hit the United Kingdom’s global standing and there are enough signs of its dwindling influence.(Bloomberg)

Citing the UK’s inability to defeat India’s candidate during the November 2017 election of a judge at the International Court of Justice as one of the signs of its dwindling influence, a new study released on Tuesday says Brexit has already hit its global standing.

The study, titled ‘Global Britain in the United Nations’, by academics Jess Gifkins, Samuel Jarvis and Jason Ralph, says that Brexit has exacerbated concerns about the legitimacy of the UK’s permanent seat on the UN security council.

India’s Dalveer Bhandari was elected in the ICJ election against the UK’s Christopher Greenwood, resulting in the UK not having a judge in the court for the first time since it was created in 1946.

The report by the UK branch of the United Nations Association cites other cases where the UK found it difficult to achieve goals since the Brexit referendum in 2016 led to a Leave vote.

“Funding for African Union peacekeeping in Somalia, a vote against the UK in the General Assembly on the Chagos Islands, and the failed re-election of a British judge to the International Court of Justice illustrate how the UK has found it difficult to secure its interests and fulfil its commitment to an active international role,” it says.

The study authors were told that the UK was less willing to criticise China now, in recognition of how important China will be to the UK after Brexit: “These problems for the UK are self-reinforcing because if they tread more gingerly they appear to other members as if they are less powerful and less able to take a leadership role. This poses risks for the UK as they attempt to navigate their position in the world post-Brexit.”

The report based on interviews with UN diplomats, UN officials and representatives of NGOs is particularly critical of the oft-repeated aim of the Theresa May government to forge a ‘Global Britain’ after leaving the EU on March 29.

The report says: “(Despite) significant rhetorical references, there is still no clarity on what Global Britain might mean, even from a UK perspective.”

“Consequently, if the UK government is seeking to promote ‘Global Britain’ on the international stage, evidence so far suggests it has struggled to convince external actors of either its purpose and meaning or its impact on directing UK foreign policy”.

“As a result, the Foreign Office will need to consider the value of the ‘Global Britain’ phrase in more detail, beyond its rhetorical use to a domestic audience”, it adds.

Citing the cases of studies of perceived dwindling influence, the report says they “indicate that the UK has been distracted by the referendum result and can be interpreted as early signs of decreased influence” on the global stage.

First Published: Feb 19, 2019 21:33 IST