By Sajad Abedi

The collapse awaits Britain

January 13, 2018

TEHRAN - Britain's vote and decision to withdraw from the European Union is undoubtedly the most important event in the history of the European Union. What will now happen to both the UK and the remaining members of the E.U. and also to other countries?

Europe's coming together has faced a major challenge with the departure of Britain.  Britain never wanted to become a completely integrated member of the E.U., and the country took a different approach to monetary union, Schengen and issues related to the creation of a European currency.

Some argue that Britain’s decision will prompt other countries to leave the E.U. To what extent is this a valid concern? Of course, we should look forward to future developments. The early impact on the British economy will test whether the decision was a good one, and we know some British citizens resented their country’s withdrawal from the union. Europe showed that the process of separation would be difficult. Residents of No. 10 Downing Street will have to witness Scotland, Wales and Ireland ignoring London's policies and also suffer the reduction of British political clout in Europe.

Britain may have little choice but to align itself more closely with the United States. This, of course, has been addressed.

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier described it as "a sad day for Europe and Britain," but Donald Trump, the then Republican candidate, said that "today, Britons have seized their country."

While Trump responded to Britain's withdrawal from the E.U., Barack Obama, the US president traveling to London two months before the referendum, supported the British as an E.U. member. “Britain as a member is able to fight much more effectively against its terrorists,” Obama claimed. He also argued that Britain would have more influence throughout the E.U. if it stayed a member. But many obviously rejected Obama’s views.

On the other hand, Scottish Autonomous Liberals, who demanded a separation from Britain, had left behind the unfortunate pre-election experience, and were again given the opportunity to defend their independence along with the Irish. The Scottish and Irish people, who are part of a "unified kingdom", remain in the European Union, revealing a number of fault lines in the kingdom that may in time endanger its survival. This is a complex concern for many citizens, whether young or old, rich or poor in the UK. 

Internationally, the referendum outcome has had an impact on London. The British role in the Middle East may have already been weakened somewhat by Britain’s withdrawal from the E.U. giving more influence to countries such as Germany or Italy within the E.U. in the Mideast. The British role, its support of Zionism, its alliance with the U.S. have long been important factors shaping the region, and the Brits have had a privileged position. Although these communications may still be preserved for London, London's key strength is in the interface between the E.U. and Mideast countries, and it seems that this aspect of British foreign policy could be weakened going forward. Of course, it should be kept in mind that British membership in the European Union forced the country to observe restrictive norms in human rights issues and the limitation of arms sales to some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. But now the UK has removed the restrictions and may further expand its ties with these allies.

Along with all the leading consequences for the British, other European countries were also involved in the aftershocks of the referendum. In a country like France, some of the country's politicians were thinking of launching a referendum called Frexit. In the same vein, Dutch populist leader Garrett Wilders also stated that "it's now the Netherlands’ turn to say farewell to the European Union." It’s still unclear whether those who want to leave the E.U. in France, the Netherlands, or elsewhere will be successful in pushing the breakup of the E.U.

However, many members of the union remain keen to keep the E.U. alive, but they themselves know that this may be a challenge. The EU needs to change its economic policies and deal with the countries of Eastern Europe, or Southern Europe and to provide financial support for the weak countries of the Union in order to save their economies from bankruptcy. To prevent further weakening and the collapse of the European Union, a serious overhaul of the laws, mechanisms and interactions of the member states seems necessary. Naturally, Britain will pursue policies to maintain its economic status among European countries. Continued consultation and dialogue with counterparts in the European Union is one of these solutions, so that Britain can continue to be one of the most effective decision-making states. On the other hand, the probability of Britain moving closer to the European Free Trade Association (FTA), including countries such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden, will be higher. Among the European countries, Britain has maintained its traditional relations with the Netherlands and Portugal.
British ties, in economy and politics, with the Islamic Republic of Iran during the post-revolutionary period have been marked by a strict approach. Britain has been main driver of anti-Iranian resolutions or statements in various international institutions, including the European Union, which pursued hostile policies directly or on behalf of the United States. These policies have targeted the national interests and political independence of Iran. The withdrawal from the E.U. by Britain may or may not help improve relations with Iran. It remains unpredictable.

On the one hand, Britain has been a member of the P5 + 1 in nuclear talks with Iran and has signed an agreement, and naturally has commitments that it expects to fulfill, but on the other hand its proximity to the United States has erected many uncertainties, especially with Donald Trump in the White House. Trump has been backing away from the nuclear agreement, to the chagrin of many.

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