Why Brexit was good for Ukraine

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[Note to journalists: You may quote from this text, provided you mention the name of the author and reference it as a new Strategic Assessment Memo (SAM) published by the Global Ideas Center in Berlin on The Globalist.]

During the campaign to leave the EU, Brexiteers in the UK made huge claims about the benefits of breaking out of the bureaucratic yoke of Brussels.

The empty promises of the Conservatives

Britain would have a lot more money for its own purposes, such as the National Health Service, Tory politicians have claimed. Companies would no longer have to comply with stupid rules and regulations invented by Eurocrats.

And while Britain’s fishing fleets would no longer have to share their waters with other EU nations, pesky Poles and other needy Europeans would be kept out.

So it is with the self-gratifying and largely illusory scenario peddled by Boris Johnson and the Tories.

A rare winner

Few if any of these benefits materialized. On the contrary, it seems that by fighting alone the British have shot themselves in the foot and the negative repercussions of Brexit will haunt the UK for decades to come.

But an unexpected Brexit winner has emerged since Putin decided to start a new war in Europe. It is of course Ukraine.

How? It’s simple: no Western state has supported Ukraine and its President Volodymyr Zelensky with as much heart as Britain.

Not just Johnson sensing his inner Churchill

Prime Minister Boris Johnson may not have been the first Western political leader to visit Kyiv, but he was the first of such caliber and visibility to do so, defying Russian bombardment.

Mr. Johnson, of course, is the author of a biography (or rather a distorting hagiography) of Winston ChurchillBritain’s wartime prime minister.

Britain’s other great “trademark”

At a time when Queen Elizabeth is much weakened and her heir Prince Charles is an inspiration to no one, the whole of the UK is understandably looking for angles to be proud of.

It is also necessary because of the endless series of weaknesses, complications and hyper-inefficiencies associated with Britain’s misguided act of heroism to leave the EU.

Johnson’s PR instinct

One thing you can never really quibble with is Boris Johnson’s ability to grab headlines, albeit far from anything one might be associated with.

Yet the example of his visit to Ukraine on April 9, 2022 inspired other great leaders to follow suit. Even veteran US President Joe Biden has announced that he too wants to come to the Ukrainian capital – although his office was quick to deny any such imminent plans.

A power of war

The UK has also been the fastest to supply Ukraine with military equipment and body armor – and to offer the deadliest weapons. Such as NLAW and Javelin anti-tank missiles and Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, as well as batteries to defend against Russian Navy boats.

Since London announced its decision, other NATO allies have also agreed to provide more powerful weaponry.

And the main reason the UK, after seemingly opting for isolationism by voting to leave the EU, has become so involved with Ukraine is, in fact, Brexit.

Standing Against Nazi Aggression

As Brexit approached, its supporters repeatedly referred to World War II, Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, when their country stood alone against Nazi aggression. The message went something like this: “We overcame adversity then, and we will do it again.”

Of course, Putin’s aggression against Ukraine bears remarkable similarities to Hitler’s attack on Poland in 1939.

Moreover, Putin’s dismissive rhetoric about Ukraine, a new nation that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, seems to be a carbon copy of Hitler’s rhetoric about Poland, a new nation that was born after the First World War on territories that were part of the German, Austrian and Russian empires.

Back then, Britain and France declared war on Germany in a bid to defend Poland – and now Britain is coming to the aid of Ukraine.

Johnson’s seriousness

Fortunately, unlike so much else Mr Johnson proclaims, his support for Ukraine is not just sentimental or ideological or rooted in historical memories.

It is also a question of the future and it has a strong geopolitical component. After Brexit, critics warned that Britain would lose much of its international influence. True, it still boasts of having a special relationship with Washington, but its value to its American big brother was far greater when it was a member of the EU, a huge economic and political bloc.

On its own, the UK is a relatively small economy wedged between massive economic powerhouses such as the EU, US, China and India.

Without the EU, Britain’s special relationship becomes an addiction – or as George Orwell called it in ‘1984’, Airstrip One.

Russia to the rescue: the path to British greatness

Russia’s war on Ukraine provided Johnson with a unique opportunity. Emerging as Ukraine’s most important major power supporter and supplying it with arms quickly and efficiently affirms Britain’s international credentials.

In fact, its ability to do so could be touted as another benefit of being free from EU bureaucracy.

A very painful contrast for Germany

The determination and determination of the UK to support Ukraine truly puts the German leadership to shame. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his SPD kept dithering. His team was more interested in their own feelings than in the very real need to come to the rescue of Ukraine.

Worse for the German government, it is Boris Johnson and the British government and establishment who have proven to have a much better and firmer understanding of what it means to say ‘never again’.

While the British side understands this means – then as now – to stand up to dictators and fascists in Europe, the German side completely misunderstands its responsibility.

A short-sighted “peacenik”, the German left seriously believes that “never again” means that Germany should pretty much sit on the sidelines in a fascist war of aggression that is hitting Europe.

This is essentially the reason why the SPD, including Mr. Scholz’s scandalously incompetent defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, is slowing everything down, even after making solemn promises to Ukraine in public.

The failure of Germany’s public broadcasters

Oddly, German public broadcasters in particular are failing their test. They seem to have fallen for Fox News’ principle of allowing left-wing extremists to voice their cowardly views about the world and Russia.

The most recent highlight is two women parliamentarians from the Left Party, a remnant of the East German Communist Party, who claimed without any evidence, but evidently following the Moscow propaganda script, that it was Mr. Johnson who had killed an initiative to move towards an armistice. .

Such outlandish claims by obvious members of Putin’s lying machine simply don’t deserve to be aired publicly.

Conclusion

Brexit may still be a net loss for the UK, diminishing its international status over time. But at least for now, it has been a net gain for Ukraine and its people in their heroic struggle against Russian aggression.

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