Tests for Brexit impact on UK foreign and security policies

The University’s Professor Richard Whitman is one of a team of experts on European policy to have devised a series of three objective tests to determine the impact of Brexit on the UK’s foreign and security policies.

Their test, presented in The UK for Changing Europe report A successful Brexit: three foreign and security policy tests’, aims to help understand the ways in which Brexit might impact on the UK and provides a framework for assessing what Brexit might mean for the UK’s international role.

Kent MP Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling), Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, launched the report at 12.30pm on Monday 26 February at Westminster, London.

Professor Whitman, of the University’s School of Politics and International Relations and a senior fellow at the think tank Chatham House, points out that much of the current debate about Brexit is focussed on politics and process. As the date of Britain’s departure approaches, it is important that the tools exist to allow us to assess what Brexit has meant for Britain.

The tests draw on the key themes that emerged during the EU referendum campaign:

  • National security

How Brexit might impact on the UK’s security in areas such as terrorism and organised crime, border security, cyber-security, Northern Ireland and rising powers.

For instance, the UK has one of the more advanced cyber security systems in Europe and devotes substantial resources to keeping pace with rapidly changing threats. The ability of the UK to counter cyber security threats is partly dependent on regular data exchange between UK authorities and private companies, including those in the EU. These exchanges could be put at risk if the EU does not regard the UK as a safe recipient of sensitive personal data.

  • International influence

An assessment of Brexit’s effect on the UK’s international influence would look at issues such as resources, and Britain’s role and position in NATO and in the European neighbourhood. For example, leaving the EU could mean the UK is more independent in its foreign policy; it may also mean it is less able to coordinate its response to local challenges with EU states.

  • Control

Looking at four key areas – security, foreign policy, defence and global governance.  The report looks at whether the UK will increase its ability to take its own decisions on foreign and security policy post-Brexit. It notes that Brexit may require policy makers to define a more strategic and coherent approach to world politics than they have had to do since accession in 1973.

The report was co-written by Malcolm Chalmers from RUSI (Royal United Services Institute) Camilla Macdonald, Anand Menon from The UK in a Changing Europe, Luigi Scazzieri from Centre for European Reform and Professor Richard Whitman from the University of Kent.