06 July 2016

Distinguished Scholars Will Inboden, Jeremi Suri and Alan Kuperman have addressed Great Britain's exit from the European Union in recent publications and interviews.

Will Inboden

After spending two weeks in the UK, Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Will Inboden published the op-ed Should America Care if Britain Stays in the EU? in Foreign Policy. Inboden argues that we should, for economic and cultural reasons. His analysis reveals the divides over which both sides talked past each other. He describes how the working class and upper economic elites diverge on immigration issues, and how Britain’s younger and older generations disagree on the value of a peacetime organization like the European Union.

Ultimately, Inboden concludes that America’s interests would be better served by a remain vote. In addition to economic concerns, our Special Relationship with the U.K. stems in part from their leverage in continental Europe. Inboden also warns that a leave vote could result in the fragmentation of the U.K. as well. However, he reminds us that the Leave proponents are fighting for full sovereignty, something we Americans value highly. The vote, he says, is largely about national identity, and whether Britain seeks itself as an island, or an extension of the mainland.

The full article can be found here.

The day after the UK’s Brexit vote, Dr. Inboden published another op-ed in Foreign Policy, “Why the Brexit Isn’t a Boost for Trump.” Although Inboden argues that although he himself has compared Trump and Brexit supporters in the past, there are three main reasons that Brexit should not be used to predict Trump’s success, despite their similarities. First, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the most visible leaders of the Leave campaign, are highly accomplished political insiders. Their campaign was well run and well funded. Nigel Farage’s more nativist appeals could not have won without this support from established policy experts, Inboden argues. Trump is more similar to Farage than to Johnson or Gove, and his campaign lacks the organizational and funding prowess that Johnson and Gove had. Second, the Leave campaign advocated for the democratic principles of self-governance and accountability. Trump rarely appeals to principles beyond his own power and authority; he does not argue that the United States will be improved by returning power to the people, but by giving power to Trump. Finally, the economic complaints of Leave voters were based on dues and fees paid to the EU and excessive EU regulations, in contrast to Trump’s much more targeted message against free trade and freedom of movement. Inboden concludes that although the Brexit vote occurred in the context of globalized politics, it was a distinctly, uniquely British decision.

Jeremi Suri

Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Jeremi Suri was recently interviewed by ABC KVUE News on the implications of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. The UK referendum to leave the EU is an incidence of a global reaction against integration, immigration, and many cooperative institutions built in the past 50 years, according to Dr. Suri. Because of issues such as economic stagnation, income inequality, and skilled, educated individuals immigrating to the UK, many are finding it hard to compete. The British support to leave the EU is a protectionist measure to reduce competition from outside the UK.

Dr. Suri also mentions that there is a historical context for a possible Brexit. He likens Brexit to the attitude of the 1930’s where economic pressures and growing nationalism caused states to impose protectionist measures to solve their economic problems. He also cautions against nationalism paired with xenophobia, which lead to the wars of the late 1930’s and 1940’s. Suri emphasizes that nationalism is not a negative force, but when paired with fear and hatred, it can be catastrophic.

Dr. Suri’s interview can be viewed here.

Alan Kuperman

Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar Alan Kuperman recently contributed to an article on Brexit’s implications in the United States. In Melanie Torre’s “Brexit inspires secessionists to continue pursuing 'Texit'”, Kuperman argues that the current events in Europe shouldn’t be compared to Texas and the United States. A “Texit” vote would adversely affect travel and interstate commerce more than Brexit did. Kuperman says that although the legality of secession is up for interpretation, by pursuing independence Texas would be sacrificing much more than the United Kingdom did.