27 June 2016
The British diplomatic corps is in a state of shock. Overnight, Great Britain has been reduced to Little England and the country’s global stature has shrunk by a fraction far greater than the economic losses registered on the London Stock Exchange — or even the plummeting value of the pound sterling. Perhaps more than anyone else, Britain’s ambassadors, military and commercial attachés, and heads of aid missions in Africa are painfully aware that the Union Jack so gleefully waved by the champions of the “Leave” campaign will soon become a historical relic.
The damage to British interests is significant, but the losses for Africa could be greater still. In campaigning to leave the European Union, Minister for Africa James Duddridge argued that Britain would be able to forge stronger ties with the continent if it were unencumbered by EU inefficiencies in aid and trade. Perhaps if Duddridge had a blank slate on which to construct a new Africa policy, he could do better than Britain’s existing one, which is part bilateral and part multilateral through the EU. But no policy is ever built on a blank slate, and surveying the post-Brexit political wreckage, he is now faced with a salvage job that will involve decoupling Britain from numerous EU-led peace and development initiatives and renegotiating dozens of trade deals. Even deftly managed by Duddridge or his successor, the Brexit will leave Britain with a fraction of the influence it currently wields in Africa.
To read the full article on the Foreign Policy website, please click here.