Brexit talks will bring more troubles for UK if divisions remain

By Yang Chuchu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/19 23:48:39

Brexit talks will bring more troubles if divisions remain

On Monday, the United Kingdom and the EU officially launched Brexit negotiations. Both the UK and EU are firm in their stand on Brexit, increasing the difficulty for the negotiations. The UK may even be on the back foot going into the talks, after British Prime Minister Theresa May miscalculated by calling a snap election in June, assuming the vote would give her a bigger mandate to pursue Brexit negotiations. Being left with a hung parliament with no outright majority, it turns out that British public opinion remains as divided as it has been for the last year. Her gamble could not bridge the gap.

One of the main reasons for the vote to leave the EU was public protest against years of austerity imposed by the Conservative government. The rise of euroskepticism has led some British politicians and people to still believe in the UK's exceptionalism, and this promotes isolationist thinking. An influx of immigrants has strengthened the tendency. As competition in a globalized world becomes tougher, the UK has seen its status decline and it can no longer compete to the same level it used to.

Those who voted for Brexit blame the UK's decline on the EU, and hope that it will become reinvigorated by the process. But this could not be further from reality.

More and more Britons are realizing that the Brexit referendum, which took place amid a campaign of misinformation and was only won by a narrow margin propelled by older voters, is unfair and has exacerbated divisions within the UK. The referendum has become a trap defined by partisan party politics that has ensnared the entire country.

Some believe that a change will enhance competitiveness, although it will be difficult to fundamentally change the downward trend in the British economy. The UK does not need a new mechanism, but a renewal of the spirit of innovation and diligence. The economic take-off of China is based on its hardworking spirit, and its reform and opening-up policies. Brexit will consume a lot of time, energy and money, a message that is gradually starting to sink in, even among the country's staunchest Brexiteers. There will likely be a long period of economic uncertainty, especially in trade with Europe.

Politically, Brexit will aggravate the UK's internal fragmentation. The economic, social and regional divisions highlighted by the referendum and the recent general election will need a long time to heal, but may even affect the integrity of the UK, although despite being called for, the prospect of an earlier second Scottish independence referendum seems to be receding.

The British government would do well to heed the calls for cross-party consensus to work on avoiding a hard Brexit, or the country will surely be heading for difficult bargaining and a drawn-out struggle.

Newspaper headline: Brexit talks will bring more troubles if divisions remain

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