Britain chose Brexit. Now what?
The split of the vote (pitting the broadly pro-Remain London, major cities, Scotland and Northern Ireland against the broadly pro-Brexit Middle England and Wales) has intensified regional tensions, and revealed how divided England is as a nation.
If the United Kingdom does actually exit the EU, the UK could survive. There is a genuine chance the UK could reshape its economy, trade ties and, in the long run, become more prosperous. But given Britain’s record of negotiating with European powers since the 1950s, I very much doubt British diplomats would have much success getting what the British public wanted.
One factor to consider: the outcome of the referendum is 'advisory', not mandatory. So what happens after the votes are counted is not a matter of law, but of politics; i.e. it is up to the politicians to decide how to interpret the vote. Given that the majority of Parliament is Remain, members could draw on numerous constitutional and legal ploys to ignore or sidestep an exit from the European Union, even if a majority of the population voted in favour of leaving. So following the Brexit ‘yes’ we can expect months, even years, of political wrangling and at least one more referendum on this issue. The prolonged uncertainty will be hugely damaging to the UK economy, and also the EU and world economy, which will feel the knock-on effects. Already we’ve seen European and US markets plummet after the leave vote was confirmed.
For now: let's wait for the dust to settle. The pound is slumping, the Prime Minister has resigned, Parliament will be rowdy - but give it a few weeks and we will see how this will play out. The critical moment will be when they trigger Article 50, which could happen within days or months. EU leaders appear to favour invoking the article quickly, to get the process underway and limit the damage. But once that trigger is pulled, there is no turning back.
My major concern is that this could be the death knell for the European project. There are at least half a dozen EU members who have huge anti-EU sentiment. The UK might have started a flurry of referenda which end up disintegrating the EU.
Scotland referendum – round two
This could be the end of the UK - once again. With London and Scotland voting massively in favour of Remain, it is only a matter of time before Scotland secures another referendum and leaves (and this time with good reason). And given that anything now seems possible, we could see moves to spin off London from the UK as an independent city state, like Singapore or Monaco. British history is full of bizarre political experiments (which is how we ended up with a Dutch, then a German, king). In a globalised world, it could make sense for true 'international hubs' such as London to be international cities, serving the world market, rather than as countries’ capitals. And with a clear majority of Londoners backing Remain, this city is unlikely to take Brexit lying down.
By Edward George, Head of Group Research, Ecobank - The Pan African Bank
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”