Brexit to nowhere: The foreign policy consequences of “Out”

British exit from the EU would have serious foreign policy consequences – both for Britain and for the rest of Europe

Publication cover
Summary available in

A British exit from the EU would have serious foreign policy consequences – both for Britain and for the rest of Europe.

Brexit to nowhere: The foreign policy consequences of “Out” by Nick Witney, co-director of the European Power Programme and Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR, examines a wide range of foreign policy issues that highlight the various ways in which Britain’s foreign policy influence and capacities would be weakened by leaving the EU.

Closest to home, Witney argues that Britain leaving the EU would likely trigger Scottish independence and may prove the stimulus for fresh violence in Northern Ireland,

Britain would also lose the advantage of belonging to the world’s biggest trade bloc. Witney points out that the EU has been the world’s most prolific concluder of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and that the EU’s size and scale has helped to secure more advantageous terms than Britain would be able to achieve alone.

Witney also rejects the idea propagated by “Out” campaigners that Britain alone would be able to form deeper ties with the Commonwealth and the US.

On the migration crisis, a key component of the “Out” campaigns messaging, Witney highlights that Britain’s unique mixture of opt-outs. Even Brexit could not insulate Britain from the migrant crisis – only by working within the EU can Britain effectively tackle the crisis at its roots.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

Help us improve ECFR’s website

Share your feedback and help us improve our website’s design and usability. It will take you less than 2 minutes.

Give feedback

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

We will store your email address and gather analytics on how you interact with our mailings. You can unsubscribe or opt-out at any time. Find out more in our privacy notice.