It has been more than three years since the UK formally left the European Union.
The UK originally wanted to get rid of the shackles and move onto a broader world stage through "Brexit", but at present, although "Brexit" has achieved results, it has obvious disadvantages: the UK regained more decision-making autonomy as it wished, however, what followed China's economic and political issues have shaken the public opinion foundation for "Brexit", and the UK's international status and relations with all parties have also been severely tested.
Written by: Kong Yuan, Associate Researcher, Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Looking back at the past three years after "Brexit", some of Britain's political demands have indeed been met.
As a political movement, “Brexit” is a political movement whose main appeal is to regain its autonomy. In this regard, the United Kingdom has undoubtedly succeeded. more autonomy.
However, just after the third anniversary of "Brexit" on January 31, as many as 500,000 people in the UK staged a large-scale strike over wage issues.
A series of recent British polls show that more and more British people are beginning to regret and oppose "Brexit".
The UK's economic performance in the three years after "Brexit" has not met expectations is an important reason for this phenomenon.
The British economy has long-term structural problems, such as serious deindustrialization, high reliance on consumption and service industries, and uneven regional development. efficiency" state.
"Brexit" did not improve the UK's economic and trade structure, but increased the downward pressure on the UK economy.
The picture shows the strike parade on February 1 in London, England.
One of the purposes of the UK’s “remaining in the EU” is to absorb the labor force of the EU, but one of the important reasons for its “Brexit” is anti-immigration, which puts the UK in a dilemma: on the one hand, it urgently needs to absorb a large number of immigrants to alleviate the labor shortage problem, On the other hand, a considerable number of British people are opposed to the influx of immigrants.
Although the UK and Europe have signed a free trade agreement, numerous administrative procedures still hinder the free flow of goods and people, and the cost of trade between the UK and Europe has increased.
Affected by multiple factors such as the new crown epidemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, high inflation and severe government debt deficits in recent years have forced British regulators to adopt high-tax fiscal policies and monetary policies that raise interest rates. The policy focuses on "stability" and "tightening" Oriented, economic growth is sluggish.
The public is dissatisfied with the high cost of living and calls for an increase in public spending, triggering large-scale strikes. The two parties and the Conservative Party in the UK have serious differences in policy direction, and the political and social crisis has deepened.
After bidding farewell to the EU, the UK is trying to build global influence by building a "global UK".
In terms of relations with Europe, the UK has carried out independent diplomacy based on the principle of a sovereign state, seeking to build a network of bilateral and small multilateral relations in Europe. Small multilateral communication mechanism.
However, as far as the EU is concerned, this practice of the UK has affected the political unity of the EU to a certain extent.
In terms of bilateral relations, the current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has shown positive momentum since taking office.
His predecessor, Liz Truss, once threatened that "it is uncertain whether Macron is an enemy or a friend", causing an uproar, and the relationship between Britain and France was also damaged by his words and actions.
Xin Weicheng, who is more pragmatic, realized that only by properly handling the relationship with the EU can he solve the economic problems of the UK, so he focused on repairing the relationship with the EU and other member states.
Britain and France are separated by the English Channel, and a large number of people are smuggled from France every year, which is a headache for Britain.
Xin Weicheng believes that cooperation with France on the immigration issue must be strengthened.
So far, the UK has not established a formal communication mechanism with the EU at the diplomatic level. As a result, high-level exchanges between the two sides lack opportunities. The British Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council usually only have "small meetings" between other meetings. Insufficient communication on these issues.
British Prime Minister Xin Weicheng delivered a speech on January 4, talking about the governance goals for 2023.
One of the main goals of "Global Britain" is to return to the Asia-Pacific, by returning to the "East of the Suez Canal", to demonstrate the influence of the United Kingdom on the economic and security situation in the Asia-Pacific.
After the U.S. government proposed the "Indo-Pacific Strategy", the United Kingdom put forward the slogan of "inclining to the Indo-Pacific" in order to cooperate with the U.S. strategy. Gain more voice and influence on the Indo-Pacific issue.
The United Kingdom will establish a trilateral security partnership (AUKUS) with the United States and Australia in 2021, and sign a defense agreement with Japan allowing the exchange of troops in 2023. These are key moves for the United Kingdom to return to the Asia-Pacific.
As far as trade relations are concerned, the UK is trying to build a "global trading nation" by signing extensive free trade agreements. However, at present, its trade increase is still unable to make up for the loss of trade with Europe. There are two main reasons.
First, the United Kingdom and the United States have not yet reached an agreement on issues related to the free trade agreement, and it will take more time for the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Second, since 2016, global trade conflicts have intensified, and the attention of all walks of life to "free trade" has gradually declined. It is difficult for the UK's "free trade" proposition to gain credibility.
Another major problem left over from Brexit is Northern Ireland.
During the "Brexit" negotiations, the United Kingdom and the European Union reached a "Northern Ireland Protocol" on related issues, which stipulated that after the United Kingdom's "Brexit" Northern Ireland region will remain in the European single market and the EU customs union to prevent the occurrence of There is a "hard border" on land, but some goods entering Northern Ireland from the British Isle of Great Britain are subject to customs and border security inspections.
For a long time, the UK has complained about the relevant agreements, believing that such rigid regulations have interfered with trade in Northern Ireland, and has demanded to restart negotiations with the EU to revise the regulations.
After Xin Weicheng took office, he started to promote the amendment process of the protocol. The European Union seems to have made some concessions. The solution to the Northern Ireland issue may hopefully clear up the fog.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida signed a defense cooperation agreement with Xin Weicheng during his visit to the UK on January 11.
"Brexit" has also increased the centrifugal force in the British Isles.
In 2014, Scotland held an independence referendum on whether to secede from the United Kingdom, and finally chose to remain in the United Kingdom with a result of 55% against and 45% in favor.
Scotland's economy is closely related to the EU's economy. In the 2016 "Brexit" referendum, the support rate of "Remain in the EU" in Scotland was as high as 62%.
After the final result came out, Scotland's independence sentiment was once high.
In order to prevent related problems from happening, the British Supreme Court legally cut off the possibility of Scotland holding an independence referendum at the end of 2022.
In this regard, the Chief Minister of Local Government of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said that she planned to use "whether Scotland should be independent" as the campaign platform in the next general election, making the general election a "de facto referendum".
Scotland's opposition Green Party has also pledged to push for a second independence referendum.
It is foreseeable that the Scottish independence movement will continue to trouble the United Kingdom for some time to come.
Despite facing many economic and political problems, domestic public opinion has begun to tilt in the direction of anti-Brexit, but it is still impossible for the UK to rejoin the EU in the short term. The ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labor Party are based on this premise when planning the future development of the UK .
In the future, the UK will continue to develop and plan its relationship with Europe and other countries in the world along the established track. The gap between the dream of a "global power" and the actual national strength of a "medium country" will become a long-term problem that plagues the development of the UK.
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