by Michael Prest
At the very least, a less stable and cooperative world order calls into question the free trade fantasies of some Brexiteers. A UK cast adrift on a 19th century free trade raft would be cruelly exposed to Trump’s 21st century protectionist starship. Being at the back of the queue to negotiate a trade deal with the US would be only the start of the UK’s problems.
Moreover, the UK was a founder – and until now a responsible pillar – of the multilateral order. If the UK turned its back on a system which has on the whole served the world well for the last 70 years it would imperil far more than itself.
Trump’s apparently cavalier disregard for Nato, the WTO and doubtless other pillars of multilateralism such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is a harsh new environment in which the UK has to try to forge a new deal with the EU. It points unequivocally to the lightest possible Brexit. Trump may not be elected. But it would be most unwise to assume that someone else like him will not come onto the scene in a few years’ time in the US or that China and other countries will decide that multilateralism no longer serves their national interests.