The political fall-out from Brexit will be longer lasting and even more dangerous than the economic damage caused by Britain's self-inflicted wound, says Michael Cole, a former award-winning reporter for BBC TV News.

The political fall-out from Brexit will be longer lasting and even more dangerous than the economic damage caused by Britain’s self-inflicted wound.

Angela Merkel deeply desired Britain’s continued membership of the EU, and not just because rosy-cheeked David Cameron had become her political toy boy with his easy-going, Eton College charm. Growing up in the DDR, constantly exposed to propaganda warning of the revanchist instincts of a re-armed and powerful West Germany in NATO, the Federal Chancellor needs no persuading that her united German state is best kept on a short leash for the continued peace and prosperity of Europe.

The UK always provided the counter balance to Germany that France had proved incapable of doing in 1870, 1914 and 1940 and which Italy could never attempt, even when it could decide which side it wanted to be on. Without the UK in the EU, Germany will be overwhelmingly the biggest baby in the play pen, as the other babies will now increasingly find out. When one country is the pay-master, industrial hub and financial centre, it is idle to imagine that it will not increasingly dominate the union.


Bild: Gastkommentar, Michael Cole, BBC

Michael Cole a former award-winning reporter for BBC TV News and Main Board Director of the Harrods Group. Now he is the chairman of Michael Cole & Company Limited, a public relations and broadcasting company.

The consequences of this will not be to the taste of all the members; Greece will not be the last nation state to find ashes in her mouth. A resurgent Germany unthinkable? Not if you listen to AfD. For them, it’s the only way ahead. It’s the reason Margaret Thatcher told her friend Helmut Kohl that she could not applaud the events of 1989 that led to unification.

Britain will not become Singapore to Continental Europe. When it eventually leaves the EU, it will seek and find an accommodation with the EU that will be better than “Third State Status”, for the simple reason that a stand-alone UK will no longer be taking instructions from Brussels, as has happened through­out the tortuous Brexit process, more an EU diktat than proper negotiations.

The City of London will not lose its dominant financial role because it sells the one product that needs no selling: money. Everyone wants it and that will not change. The attempt by Paris to become the EU’s financial centre was always doomed by the huge social costs of employing people in France and the impossibility of sacking them – that and the fact that tonight you can go to 90 theatres in London to see something worth seeing and there are only five or less in Paris.

London’s shopping for the spouses and education for the children are better too; Napoleon Bonaparte said the English were a nation of shopkeepers. He meant it as an insult. But like the best insults, the English turned it around and triumphed in retailing and commerce generally.

International companies that are more comfortable working in English will not choose a continental country if they opt to leave Britain. The Republic of Ireland will suffer the most from the shock of Brexit but will then recover and be well placed to welcome any refugee corporations from across the Irish Sea. “Cead Mile Failte” they say in Erse, “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”. After Brexit, the Irish will multiply that to add at least one zero to the welcomes.

Author: Michael Cole

The article was featured in our May edition 2019 „Brexit/Europe“.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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