Tag Archives: BREXIT

Why did Britain decide to increase the number of nuclear warheads?

This March was marked by a global nuclear scandal.

Britain, known for its reputation as the quietest nuclear state, seems to have decided to change its approach. In the year when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force and the month of the NPT Review Conference was already set, London suddenly took the initiative to increase its nuclear arsenal.

The Joint Review on Security, Defense, and Foreign Policy officially stated its intention to increase the number of nuclear warheads to 260.

Despite the fact that even with such a 40% increase, the UK still remains at the end of the list of nuclear states in terms of the number of warheads, the trend looks shocking.

In the thirty years since the end of the Cold War, London has consistently followed the path of reducing its nuclear arsenal.

And if in the early 1990s the UK had an arsenal of 500 nuclear warheads, then by 2010 it decided to reduce it to 225, and in the 2020s-to 180 units.

All the more unexpected was the statement about the breaking of such a trend.

This step in the Review is explained by the “changed strategic situation”, which is largely justified by the policy of the Russian Federation. Along with “balancing on the brink of war”, the document lists “political interference, murder, and poisoning, propaganda, and disinformation”, which have long been the tools of Moscow.

London’s decision to build up its nuclear capabilities violates the NPT. This refers to article 6, according to which the nuclear-weapon States “undertake in good faith to negotiate an end to the arms race and… nuclear disarmament”.

In this context, London’s statement that it is committed to continuing on the path of nuclear disarmament and promoting the implementation of the JNR sounds almost mocking.

However, even with the planned build-up of nuclear forces, their modernization, and increased opacity of information about deployed warheads, the UK remains the smallest nuclear state of the official ones, reducing the future gap with France by only 40 warheads.

It seems that Paris is not at all concerned about such a step, because given the current level of defense partnership between the states, the growth of British nuclear power will only free France from unnecessary responsibility for European affairs.

French expert Bruno Tertre defiantly declares that “ now the UK resembles us… An unrepentant and shameless nuclear state that did not hesitate to trumpet an increase in its nuclear arsenal only a few weeks after the entry into force of the NPT.”

In general, France welcomes the situation when the Allies take on greater responsibility.

By the way, the Review recalls that the United Kingdom is one of the two nuclear states (along with the United States) responsible for the security of NATO, which, given the growing strategic challenges associated with the development of new weapons systems, requires greater nuclear capabilities.

Moreover, London declares not only the build-up of nuclear forces, but also the development of the entire range of technical means: cyber, precision weapons, and fifth-generation strike aircraft…

Is this a consequence of Brexit, a bid for leadership in Europe, or just a desire to keep up with the rest of the nuclear five? Or the usual realpolitical-inevitable in the world after 2014, when our eastern neighbor demonstrated to the world the eternal law of the jungle: brute military force is still a key element of politics.

It seems that the British colleagues came to this conclusion after more than five years, but given their initially almost anti-nuclear liberal positions, this speaks volumes.

Probably, even as a certain trend in international relations, which cannot be reversed either by agreements on the destruction of nuclear weapons or by other liberal initiatives.

EU outraged by London’s decision on Northern Ireland

The British government, in an attempt to tackle the Brexit-created Northern Ireland problem, took a step that Irish and Brussels politicians reacted unusually sharply, claiming that London was an unreliable partner that was breaking treaties.

On Wednesday, the government of Boris Johnson unilaterally, without waiting for the consent of the European Union, decided to extend the simplified inspection regime at the customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom created under the terms of Brexit for six months.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Clowney said Thursday that “the European Union is negotiating with a partner who simply cannot be trusted.”

“The EU is now looking at legal options and legal steps, which will mean a much more formalized and tough negotiation process instead of a partnership where you try to solve problems together,” Coveney added, speaking on the Irish radio RTE morning program.

The vice-president of the European Commission, responsible for relations with Britain, Slovak Maros Shevchovich said that London’s decision violated the provisions of the so-called “Northern Ireland Protocol”, which is part of the general agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

British government officials argue that they have not violated anything and that the protocol gives them the right to such unilateral actions.

“Such measures have precedents in other international agreements and are fully consistent with our intentions to fulfill our obligations under the protocol in good faith,” said the government spokesman David Frost, who, from the post of head of the British delegation in negotiations with the EU, moved to the post of minister for relations with the European Union.

London hinted at unilateral measures to the European Union in early February, when there was the first outbreak of emotions over the Irish border.

Under the “Northern Ireland Protocol”, following Britain’s final withdrawal from the EU earlier this year, customs checks began at ports in Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland, by the decision of the parties, actually remained in the single market and customs space of the EU, because if the EU and Britain restored control posts on the state border on the island of Ireland, a bloody conflict could again flare-up in the northern part of the island.

However, the authorities and companies of Britain were not ready for full-scale checks on the new border across the Irish Sea immediately from January 1, and therefore Brussels and London introduced a simplified regime of checks for the first three months.

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This simplification lies in the fact that goods for Northern Ireland chain supermarkets and some other retailers pass through customs without unnecessary formalities. At the end of the simplified regime, they will have to receive certificates for meat, milk, and products from them.

The British government convinced that nothing will be ready by the end of March, first called on the EU to extend the simplified regime, and now announced a unilateral extension.

It is not known how the European Union will respond, but one of the members of the European Commission has already hinted at the possible consequences in the most important area of relations for Britain — financial.

“Such things do not promote trust,” said Irish Finance Minister Maria McGuinness, who answered a question from reporters about how the process of issuing permits to companies from the City of London to work in the EU market is going on.

In the agreements that Britain entered into with the EU during the exit process, trade in services, including financial services, is almost not regulated — and this is a major issue for the City and the entire British economy.

Now the parties are negotiating on the financial sphere, but in principle, all the main levers here are in the hands of the European Commission: it has the right, at its discretion, to give British financiers permission to work on the continent — or not.

Northern Ireland was the most pressing issue in Britain’s exit negotiations from the EU — and has remained so after the exit has already taken place.

The 1998 Belfast Accords, which ended years of bloody conflict between supporters and opponents of Ulster’s unification with the rest of Ireland, are largely based on the island’s virtual absence of a border.

While both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland were both members of the European Union, the virtuality of the border was natural and did not pose a problem.

But when Britain decided to leave the EU’s single market and customs space, the parties had to face a challenge with two poorly compatible initial conditions.

On the one hand, the restoration of the real border on the island, by all accounts, was fraught with renewed conflict: supporters of a united Ireland would begin to smash customs posts.

Brexit could ‘cost’ the UK four times more than the EU

By the end of 2022, the UK may lose about 40 billion pounds as a result of Brexit, which is significantly more than the losses for the EU economy.

This is reported by SPIEGEL with reference to the published forecast of the European Commission.

According to estimates, for the countries of the bloc, Britain’s exit from the EU will lead to a loss of about 0.5% of GDP compared to if the United Kingdom remained in the European Union.

At the same time, Britain may lose about 2.25% of GDP by the end of 2022, which is about 40 billion pounds.

The calculations are based on a statistical model that used data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Losses could be even greater in the case of a “hard” Brexit-without a new trade agreement, negotiations on which lasted almost until the last moment.

As previously reported, in the first month after Brexit, exports from Britain to the EU collapsed by 68%.

In 2021, British exporters are expected to suffer great losses because of Brexit

The international insurance company Euler Hermes expects the losses of British exporters in 2021 could grow to 25 billion pounds sterling.

This forecast is based on the assumption that the economy will be able to recover from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, not before the beginning of 2023. К

The main factors that will have a negative impact on British export-oriented business this year, the company’s experts attribute changes in the terms of trade after Brexit, more complicated bureaucratic procedures, as well as the depreciation of the British currency.

The measures introduced in the country to curb the pandemic, analysts believe, will weaken economic activity that will be reflected in the fall of the British economy by 5.5% in the first three months of this year. The insurance companies believe that after the end of the transition period in the summer months automobile and pharmaceutical companies will have to increase their costs by about 5%.

Experts expect the biggest losses this year in the spheres of minerals extraction, mechanical engineering, as well as in the production of metal products and the textile industry. The study forecasts UK GDP growth of 2.5% this year and an acceleration of economic recovery to 7% in 2022.

Thus, UK GDP will not be able to fully recover until 2023.

What are the real implications of Brexit?

The transition period has expired — and with the beginning of the new year, the UK is no longer a member of the customs union and the EU internal market. The option of a hard Brexit was averted: at the last minute, London and Brussels managed to come to an agreement. The European press speculates about the short- and long-term consequences of Brexit — on both sides of the English Channel.

Realism will prevail!

Trade ties are unlikely to be severed, says Corriere del Ticino:

“It is possible that in the short term some hurdles and costs will rise, but London is unlikely to be able to completely change the geography of its trade landscape. Even if the EU’s share in the UK’s export and import balance declines in the coming years, the likelihood that the EU countries will become only second-tier partners for the UK is extremely low, if not even zero. This is what all the economic data is evidence of. If it does come to restrictions, the United Kingdom and the EU are likely to conclude new economic agreements. As belated and imperfect as the current post-Brexit agreements are, they represent a step towards a certain economic realism anyway.”

Brussels’ sweet revenge

The Scottish Parliament refused to recognize the Brexit agreement between London and Brussels at the last minute. Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. According to RIA Novosti, now Brussels will not remain in debt:

“The situation is getting worse, as London has nothing to silence Scottish discontent with, nothing to promise and no guarantee of quick changes for the better. It is possible that someday the exit from the EU will result in benefits and acquisitions for the United Kingdom, but in the near future, it is unlikely to count on improvement. … Britain has dealt a severe blow to European unity. Recent years have shown that the EU will not forget this for a long time to London and will use every opportunity to respond. And one can hardly imagine more sophisticated revenge than facilitating the exit of Scotland from the United Kingdom.”

The sympathy remains less and less

In this regard, the editor-in-chief of the Rzeczpospolita edition, Bohuslav Khrabota, is occupied with several other thoughts:

“In addition to a ‘tough’ policy, a personal, purely human view of things is also possible. I have always been friendly towards London and Oxford. English pride and self-satisfaction brought me only a smile, and I closed my eyes to it. Today, all this causes me bewilderment and ridicule, but first of all — boredom. In general, the desire to go to the other side of the English Channel disappeared completely. When will I visit good old England again? Apparently, very soon. Before that, I’ll rather go to Edinburgh to celebrate the independence of Scotland with my colleagues there.”