What will Brexit mean for Africa?
For good and ill, Britain has long played a major role in world affairs and particularly in Africa. Now it seems doomed to become an impoverished island off Europe.
Sometimes turkeys do vote for Christmas. And 52% of British voters have just done so.
Brexit is national suicide. The tribes of Britain will now be at war with each other. The Scots will demand another referendum and will vote to leave. Northern Ireland will be vulnerable to conflict again. (Are they really going to build a fence along the border? Would Sinn Fein go back to war if they do?) And the Welsh will not be slow to realise they do not want to be tied to an impoverished England.
Already the world’s capital markets have shown their reaction and fear that Britain is no longer a global leader in finance and international connections. I wonder if all those building sites in the City will remain building sites and whether other gleaming towers of steel and glass may soon bear “vacant” signs.
[See: Uncertain trade, less progressive aid and a new colonial-minded PM? What Brexit means for Africa]
What does it mean for Africa? All the reports I have seen show a strong African belief in Britain staying in the EU. Many on the continent saw Britain as an important voice for Africa in Brussels and at the UN in New York. But now, England and Wales – outside the EU and led by little Englanders – will see British influence in the world diminish further. Could Britain even find itself squeezed off the UN Security Council?
You can be sure that the aid budget will be slashed. I am not a great fan of aid, but it did represent Britain’s commitment to the world’s poor and especially to struggling African countries. Will outgoing PM David Cameron’s brave attempt to raise the issue of global corruption be shelved? Britain’s weight in the world will be so diminished that few will take it seriously anyway.
The exit will also feed racism in Britain. There is little doubt that many of the Leave voters, frightened by immigration, want to stop foreigners coming to Britain. Africans – more visible than Europeans – will no doubt be targeted.
The new government – presumably led by former London mayor and leading Leave campaigner Boris Johnson – will try to stop foreigners coming to Britain and be far less willing to accept refugees under the UN Convention. Our universities will suffer as foreign students will find it difficult to get visas and many will turn to American or European alternatives. I also predict there will be a rise in racist attacks on Africans and other “aliens”.
For centuries, for good and ill, Britain has played a major role in world affairs and particularly in Africa. It is the most international country in the world and for centuries has been open to refugees and migrants generally – not least because they brought expertise, new ideas and ambition which broke through Britain’s class barriers.
Now it seems doomed to become an impoverished island off Europe. And when the Brexiters – fed false figures and lies by Britain’s right wing press – realise they have made a dreadful mistake, it will be too late.
Richard Dowden is the director of RAS.
The Africa All Party Parliamentary Group together with RAS is holding an event on the 20th July exploring Africa-UK Trade & Investment Agreements after Brexit. For information and to register please see here.
It will massively affect countries colonized by the British eg Kenya.
Whether the UK is in or out of the EU, there will always be begging bowls that need to be filled.
The people of the U.K. know that the spirit of the true
Briton, will mean that it never becomes an insignificant
island off the coast of Europe.
Hundreds of years of history prove this fact.
The only solution for Africa is to avoid this dependency syndrome through good governance. Africa has enough resources to sustain it if utilized well.
Africa has all the resource to survive by itself. We should stop depending so much on developed countries.
will have a negative impact on economic relation between the African countries and EU
Pure conjecture by Dowden. Sure there will be an economic shock. Stock market has already recovered and is ahead of where it was on 22nd June. We Britons are a phlegmatic people and not inclined to panic. Don’t forget the motto from WW2 – ‘Keep calm and carry on’.
I’m afraid that a few right wing thugs will see the Brexit as an excuse to vent their bile. It is sad that we have some people like that in Britain but on the whole immigrants are welcomed and treated with courtesy and equality.
I would have preferred to remain in the EU, but Britain is a democracy and i will abide by the will of the people, as will the vast majority of my compatriots. Don’t panic Mr Dowden!
Less fortunate Brits voted for exiting the EU. This was an exercise in xenophobia.
Corporate London stands to benefit either way. How? Corporates already operate above the sovereignty of states.
Positive for Africa – we’ll have a chance to shape our own futures. Ruling elites should feel vulnerable.
Thanks Richard for hitting the nail in the coffin. I wrote an article on the big effects of the Brexit win and it seem what you and I have highlighted is beginning to unfold. I am scared for the future of the Island. Let us hope that the Brexiters will realise their mistakes and be conscious of the fact that the world has evolved beyong narcissism.
Obviously there will be change either positively or negatively. I hope there will be no ritualism in Britain.