Fletcher Voices: On Brexit

With the United Kingdom greeting its referendum on the European Union with a resounding “Leave,” the sheer weight of the “Brexit” was felt at 10 Downing Street and on Wall Street, with shock waves quickly reverberating far beyond. From world markets to international security, geopolitics to national elections, uncertainty around the effects of the vote persist. Among many of the questions being asked there sits a single thread:

So what does this really mean?

At The Fletcher School, our faculty has grappled with its impact in a number of spheres. While the search for clarity goes on, looking at Brexit in the context of the world in which we live, and from a variety of viewpoints on campus, can hopefully shed a light on the referendum’s far-reaching implications.  Here’s what some of our faculty members – from those specializing in security studies to business innovation to international law – are saying about the current situation.

Faculty Voices

Dean James Stavridis

“The US must face the fact that the UK will likely be less of an effective and reliable partner in global affairs. The US-UK relationship is about to get somewhat less special, unfortunately.”

UK-US Special Relationship Shaky Following Brexit Vote, Financial Times

The United States and Europe will be confronted with a raft of bad news that goes along with [Brexit]: economic turmoil, a faltering British economy, a deeply weakened political entity in the European Union itself, the high chance of a Scottish departure from the UK, to name just a few of the challenges. The political and economic institutions of the West all seem worse off […].

The sole exception might be the military. Brexit, counter-intuitive as it might sound, will likely produce a stronger NATO.

Europe’s Loss Is NATO’s Gain, Foreign Policy

“[The close security relationship between the US and the UK] both should not be affected either by intent or by practicality. … I’m hopeful that those UK military assets will find their way into NATO channels and bilateral channels working with the United States. In that sense, from the military perspective I think the special relationship should continue.”

BBC World News America

Bhaskar Chakravorti , Senior Associate Dean, Business and Finance

“[There] are long-term possibilities, but at least for the next two years, Brexit will unquestionably deepen Europe’s digital crisis. Unless visionary steps are taken, Techxit, i.e. the flight of digital talent and money from Europe and the UK, will follow.”

Brexit Could Deepen Europe’s Digital Recession, Harvard Business Review

The Brexit vote may not be the last nail on globalisation’s coffin, but the pallbearers have been put on high alert, especially given the xenophobic rhetoric of the presidential campaign across the Atlantic.

As the global economy slows, how can sustainable development remain a priority?The Guardian

Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, Research Fellow

“Now that the UK has decided to turn its back on immigration and integration, we think that innovation and investments are bound to suffer.”


Europe’s Digital Economy, Post-Brexit, The Fletcher School

Alex de Waal , Executive Director, World Peace Foundation

“The shortsighted petty politicking of a handful of English politicians—most especially David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage, with a dishonorable mention for Jeremy Corbyn—has endangered their own country, the EU, and world peace.”

Brexit Threatens World Peace and Security, Boston Review

Dan Drezner, Professor of International Politics

“This, globally, is the equivalent of Trump getting the GOP nomination. Everyone thought the way the world works was a certain direction or that there were certain rules of thumb. Those rules of thumb are now being thrown out the window.”

Brexit’s consequences, according to an expert: “clusterfuck,” Vox

“It could cut both ways. The one way [Brexit] could help [Donald] Trump is if Brexit itself is so costly to the economy that the economy starts slowing down. Generally speaking, a slower economy hurts the incumbent party. […] On the other hand, […] Hillary Clinton has done an outstanding job of tying Donald Trump to the idea that Brexit was a good idea and we’re now seeing the fact that markets thought it was a very bad idea. So if Clinton can paint Trump as an agent of chaos, much like Brexit, then it’s possible that voters who might think it’s time for a change might decide that in fact that change is not necessarily good for them and side with Clinton.”

“Is Brexit Good or Bad for Donald Trump?” KFPK Radio Sacramento

Michael Klein, Professor of International Economic Affairs

“The British economy is already facing a certain number of challenges… the plunge of the pound will only add to inflationary pressures. The Bank of England will likely have to respond to this and raise interest rates, which will further slow the economy.”

The Long and Short Term Consequences of the Brexit Vote, NECN

Amar Bhidé, Professor of International Business

“More is at stake than simply the unraveling of a hard-won common market. Economic integration has provided the highly intended benefit of breaking with millennia of conflict between European nations, and offers a potential bulwark against a militant Russian resurgence. In the long run, therefore, the Brexit fantasy of access to a large market without the costs threatens peace as well as prosperity.”

Brexiters are making a dangerous mistake in their argument for leaving the EU, Quartz

Joel Trachtman, Professor of International Law

“On trade, they (Britons) hurt themselves. On investment, they hurt themselves. On migration, they hurt themselves.”

‘Brexit’ could have economic, political downsides for U.S. business, USA Today

From the Faculty Co-Chairs of our forthcoming
Greece’s Turn? Conference

Kostas Lavdas, Constantine G. Karamanlis Professor of Hellenic and European Studies (2007-09, 2014-16), The Fletcher School

“Brexit has not happened (yet) – what has happened is a crucial referendum on the road possibly to a new regime governing relations between the UK and the EU. The devil is going to be in the details: the negotiation between a new UK prime minister and the EU and the difficult ratification process of the new regime both within the UK and in the EU states will be the area to watch. For Greece and for the EU, a good deal that will enhance trade and economic growth in Europe is the desired goal.”

Yannis Ioannides, Max and Herta Neubauer Chair and Professor of Economics, Tufts University

“Brexit goes right in those fault lines that separate the European Union project from the Eurozone project. I’m afraid that an unraveling, backward chain reaction can take place, which will make continued European integration a distant, distant dream.”

Leave a Reply