The latest edition of “Fletcher Reads the Newspaper” tackled the thorny question: Is Brexit a “house of cards” that threatens the stability of the world order? After introductions by Bhaskar Chakravorti, Senior Associate Dean of International Business and Finance at The Fletcher School, and Lisbeth L. Tarlow, Chair of The Fletcher School Board of Overseers, the two debaters kicked off.
Lord Michael Dobbs, introduced as “Westminster’s baby-faced hitman,” wasted no time attacking the premise of stability to begin with. He claimed global stability disappeared at least twenty years ago. The seasoned debater laid out the three-part argument that a) there is no stable world order b) the EU is the cause of instability and c) the EU failed the challenge of changing internally due to its undemocratic nature. Countering the common narrative that the UK left the EU for economic reasons, Dobbs insisted that the UK left to reclaim its sovereignty, which has been compromised by an “arrogant, authoritarian, inefficient, ineffective, and elitist” EU that refused to reform itself. According to Dobbs, the democratic deficit generated by decision-making in Brussels by unelected representatives is irreconcilable, and the EU itself is in danger of becoming a “house of cards.”
Dr. Amar Bhidé, after excusing himself for this “hopelessly mismatched debate” took a different approach, borrowing a page from British economist John Kay to illustrate the perils of Brexit using the example of regulation on jam. Bhidé demonstrated how the trade and safety regulations so lamented by the pro-Brexit camp in fact will not be eliminated by leaving the EU, and are actually made less burdensome by unifying standards across the region. He went on to extend the jam example to immigration, claiming that Brexit is really about the flow of people, which also will not end with Brexit and is arguably much more important to the economy than the flow of jam.