‘One thing resembling hell’: how does the remainder of the world view the UK? | Politics


Liu Ye


China: ‘The Brexit farce has inspired the nationalists in China, particularly the younger technology’

Liu Ye, editor of worldwide affairs at Sanlian Life Week journal in Beijing

I keep in mind the day of the referendum. It was highly regarded in Beijing that morning and I had gone to a gathering with my publishing agent. I saved checking the BBC app on my telephone for information. Lastly, after leaving the assembly, whereas ready for a taxi, my telephone buzzed – the UK had chosen to depart.

Out of the blue I used to be reminded of an outdated Yugoslav movie, Walter Defends Sarajevo, which was highly regarded in China within the 1970s. There’s a well-known line that many Chinese language folks will keep in mind: “The air is shaking, as if the sky goes to burn. The storm is coming.”

Inside just a few hours, I printed an article titled “The storm is coming”. It was learn by greater than 100,000 folks in only one hour. Later, I persuaded my editor to do a canopy story on Brexit. We put that out inside 72 hours, beneath the headline: “Brexit: are we going through the reversal of globalisation?” That version bought virtually 200,000 copies – much more than our report on Donald Trump’s presidential win.

Not many Chinese language folks care concerning the technical or authorized particulars of the Brexit deal, however the saga has made an impression. The status of British democracy has suffered. When you ask somebody on the streets of Beijing what they consider Brexit, they may say: “Democracy solely results in confusion.” I do know that’s not true, however it’s troublesome to vary their impression.

For the previous two or three a long time, the US and Britain have been cultural symbols in Chinese language folks’s eyes: the US highly effective, wealthy, enviable; the UK beautiful, elegant. Public intellectuals, particularly liberals, discuss concerning the British fashion of constitutionalism, evaluating it to our Soviet-style totalitarian regime. College students know extra about Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher than JFK or Invoice Clinton. That’s actual “smooth energy”.

However now this picture has collapsed. Within the Brexit farce, there isn’t a Churchill or Thatcher, solely a dozen mediocre politicians, none of whom need to take duty or unite the nation. This has inspired the nationalists in China, particularly the younger technology born after 1989. With the “assist” of the nice fireplacewall, they knew little concerning the internal disaster of their very own nation. However they see that China now has extra plane carriers, extra missiles and extra hi-tech fighters, whereas the UK is trapped within the wallows of Brexit. There may be an internal voice of their hearts: “Now we’re sturdy. They’re weak. Now we have nothing to be taught from them.” That’s the hazard.

At this time, nobody actually cares about Boris Johnson, however since he was the one who known as for Brexit initially, Chinese language folks might be to see how he can flip his dedication into actuality.
As instructed to Lily Kuo

Sylvie Kauffmann


France: ‘As soon as, we used to carry up British parliamentary life because the Rolls-Royce of liberal democracy’

Sylvie Kauffmann, editorial director and contributor, Le Monde

First, I ought to say that we French Europeans are grateful to our British associates for ensuring one phrase has exited our vocabulary: Frexit.

For Brexit has made Frexit unattainable. 4 years in the past, Marine Le Pen may nonetheless float the Frexit temptation and lead a few of her supporters to consider that leaving the EU would in some way resolve France’s issues.

By the point she launched her marketing campaign for the 2017 presidential election, the Brexit referendum had already had one impact: the Entrance Nationwide chief not dared push her Frexit argument any extra, confining herself as an alternative to attacking the euro and advocating a return to the outdated franc. Even this proved a nasty concept.

Within the final TV debate between the 2 rounds of the election, Emmanuel Macron crushed Le Pen by proving how incoherent her concept of a French paradise outdoors the eurozone really was. It took a 12 months for her to get better, and two years for her celebration – now renamed Nationwide Rally – to supply a programme admitting that leaving the euro was “not a precedence any extra”.

However for us, this has been the one silver lining of the Brexit saga. Watching the lengthy descent of Westminster into one thing resembling hell has been an exhausting expertise. Theresa Could’s very British resilience was spectacular, however we ended up pitying her. Nigel Farage’s sort was all too acquainted to us: we properly understood simply how harmful he was. A few of us as soon as discovered Boris Johnson humorous; we way back stopped laughing. John Bercow’s ties and determined requires order made a great present, however on the entire, this was a solid with too many villains and too few heroes.

As soon as, we used to carry up British parliamentary life for instance, and watch prime minister’s questions within the Home of Commons with envy: for us, accustomed to semi-monarchical presidents of the Republic, this was the very Rolls-Royce of liberal democracy. Now that Rolls-Royce appears extra like a dodgem.

Now we have come to dread seeing outdated British associates, now so obsessive about Brexit that it’s all however unattainable to speak of the rest. We puzzled the way it was doable for such good public servants and such a legendary diplomatic service to be unable to give you higher plans and produce them to the negotiating desk.

And we couldn’t perceive how a former empire may dream of turning into “Singapore-on-Thames”. All our myths, in brief, have been destroyed. As a substitute of taking again management, the Brits gave the impression to be shedding their minds.

Then France had its personal disaster: the gilets jaunes. It was violent, ugly, destabilising. Perhaps Brexit was Britain’s gilets jaunes second? The UK model of a widespread disaster of consultant democracy? Much less violent – however, in the long run, extra damaging.

Watching this last episode, of the election of a first-rate minister by 0.2% of the inhabitants, many people got here to this conclusion: it is a British disaster, not a European one. And you’ll by no means resolve it with out leaving, a method or one other. So please, go now. Test the freezing temperature outdoors, repair your downside. After which come again. The door will keep open, as a result of we do need you again. Simply calmed down a bit.
As instructed to Jon Henley

Khuê Phạm


Germany: ‘Johnson is seen as treating Europe as an enormous joke. Quoting witty strains in Latin received’t change that’

Khuê Pham, editor, Zeit journal

It has been troublesome to write down with the attention of a impartial observer about an occasion, Brexit, that may really feel like a private affront. After Berlin, London was my second house city, a spot the place I had gone to college and lived for 4 years. But the vote to depart made me realise that maybe there was a facet to Britain I had missed.

I realized so much since then – not nearly Britain, but in addition our blindspots as reporters. I noticed parallels to Brexit not simply in Donald Trump’s election victory later that 12 months, but in addition within the rise of Different für Deutschland on the 2017 elections in Germany. All three elevate questions of social inequality that we now have failed to handle till now. The issue is that we’re nonetheless in search of methods to resolve them. Persons are extra disillusioned about politics than ever, and but we’re nowhere nearer to cleansing up the mess.

For our readers at Die Zeit, Boris Johnson is by far probably the most intriguing character within the Brexit drama. He makes them come out in a rash – it’s as if they’re allergic to him. They really feel he has been disdainful in direction of Europeans, treating Europe as an enormous joke. That view will stick round at the same time as prime minister – quoting witty strains in Latin received’t change that.

I wrote a profile of him through the referendum marketing campaign, and the impression I had then was of somebody who doesn’t even have a really sturdy opinion on Europe in any respect, and who isn’t actually within the element a part of politics, which requires laborious work. His stint as overseas secretary solely confirmed that, so I’m actually stunned what number of British commentators now endorse him as a first-rate minister.

Britain’s smooth energy has already began to decrease. Caught up in Brexit, the UK authorities doesn’t have the bandwidth to play a job in European politics any extra. I believe the German public has began to lose curiosity within the newest particulars of the negotiations – they used to consider Britain as being very cool, now it’s seen as an enormous mess.

I’m not very hopeful about good relations between Britain and Germany within the close to future. Merkel is on her means out and there’s no sturdy candidate to succeed her. The hazard is that in a 12 months’s time each Britain and Germany might be in a risky state, each with leaders who have to show to the citizens that they are often robust in negotiations. I worry the UK will come to overlook Merkel as a pillar of stability.
As instructed to Philip Oltermann

Nobuyuki Suzuki of Tokyo Shimbum


Japan: ‘The Japanese have at all times seen Britain as a delicate, secure nation, however that has modified’

Nobuyuki Suzuki, media and leisure information editor, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper

I’m very involved concerning the prospect of Britain leaving the EU with no deal on 31 October. That is unprecedented. I’m afraid that Japanese corporations will proceed to rethink their investments in Britain, as Nissan and Honda have already completed.

Japanese corporations invested in Britain as a result of it was a member of the EU. However agreeing a Japan-UK free commerce deal after Brexit would take a really very long time, and through that interval it might be troublesome for Japanese corporations to proceed working in Britain.

With or with no deal, leaving the EU is a nasty concept and I hope, in some way, that Brexit received’t occur. I don’t suppose David Cameron ever thought that Britain would vote to depart, however voters had been influenced by faux information claims about membership of the EU and what leaving would imply. They had been persuaded that Brexit could be straightforward.

I really feel very sorry for British voters. Lots of people who voted to depart noticed themselves as victims of globalisation. If I used to be a British manufacturing facility employee and I had misplaced my job, I might have been tempted to assist leaving the EU. The hole between wealthy and poor was rising. Immigration was additionally a difficulty. Individuals regarded round and thought: “I need to return to the best way Britain was.” I don’t suppose voters got sufficient details about what the problems had been earlier than the referendum, and there ought to have been rather more dialogue of the dangers and advantages of leaving.

The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is contemplating calling for a referendum on revising Japan’s postwar structure (to legally recognise the self-defence forces, Japan’s de facto navy). If Brexit has taught us something, it’s that the media need to do extra to make sure that the general public has a correct grasp of either side of the argument.

We run quite a lot of Brexit tales within the Tokyo Shimbun. It’s one of many hottest overseas information tales round. The tone of our protection is nearly at all times downbeat and we discuss so much about how chaotic British politics has turn out to be.

The Japanese have at all times seen Britain as a delicate, secure nation, however that has modified, first due to Brexit and now due to the rise of Boris Johnson.

Johnson doesn’t match the stereotype of an English gentleman. He reminds lots of people in Japan of Donald Trump, each bodily and when it comes to his political fashion.

Johnson appears a bit wild, and he speaks his thoughts. We don’t have politicians like that in Japan. What he says about politics doesn’t actually matter to the Japanese… as an alternative we’re intrigued by the truth that he doesn’t communicate or behave like a traditional politician.
As instructed to Justin McCurry

Mihir Sharma


India: ‘If Britain needs a cope with India, it should chill out immigration. That is non-negotiable’

Mihir Sharma, writer, Bloomberg columnist, and senior fellow on the Observer Analysis Basis, New Delhi

I go to the UK commonly and was there through the referendum. I used to be stunned however not shocked on the end result. The Westminster system, which we share, is supposed to hide the actual “will of the folks”. It’s a nasty concept to mix that with referendums. You would possibly uncover what folks really need, which is normally one thing politicians, and actuality, can’t ship.

The end result, observing the saga unfold from afar, is excessive comedy: a political class that’s trapped by its personal guarantees and lies into delivering the undeliverable and which is now shedding all credibility as a consequence. It’s been unusual to observe the unimaginable conceitedness on show in England (not Britain), which reveals itself on this perception that they are going to in some way be a fascinating location or accomplice for different nations as soon as they go away Europe.

Such a large and inexplicable act of self-harm could be unhappy if it occurred to a rustic much less certain of itself, however when it occurs to England, it’s amusing as properly.

Britain confuses its standing with that of London. London is a good world metropolis. Britain is a small European nation with concepts above its station. Individuals will proceed to buy in London. Firms will find much less in Britain. The Indian authorities can pay much less consideration to the British prime minister and extra to Brussels and Berlin.

It appears to me that too many individuals in London appear to consider, deep down, that Brexit received’t occur. They don’t appear to understand they’re now strangers in their very own nation.

Illustration by James Melaugh.



Illustration by James Melaugh. Illustration: James Melaugh

As a political analyst, I’ve realized fairly just a few issues from Brexit. For one, I see it as a warning of the hazard in permitting a single difficulty to take over all politics, all financial planning, and in reality all dialog. Brexit has dumbed Britain down.

For one more, politicians want to understand that in democracies like Britain or India, persons are at all times indignant: whether or not at austerity, or reducing residing requirements, or immigration, or non secular range. Anger simply wants a goal. The Brexit referendum gave them one: the EU. The nation that invented the Westminster system, meant to manage standard anger, appears to have forgotten methods to run a democracy.

India, like others, has observed for the primary time that Europe exists independently of Britain. India considered Europe as Britain’s yard. Brexit means we’ll now develop impartial relationships with European nations. Britain, and London, will turn out to be much less essential.

If Brexiters suppose that negotiating a commerce settlement with India goes to be straightforward, they’re in for a nasty shock. There’s a far stronger perception in Britain than in India within the energy of nostalgia and a “shared historical past”. It received’t impression commerce negotiations in any respect. If Britain needs a deal, it should concede India’s demand for simpler work visas for professionals and college students. It should chill out immigration. That is as non-negotiable for New Delhi as it’s for Brussels. I’m certain Brexiters might be nice with that!

Britain’s status for frequent sense and pragmatism has been severely broken by Brexit. I doubt it is going to survive a Boris Johnson premiership.
As instructed to Amrit Dhillon

Khadija Patel.


South Africa: ‘There’s a gleefulness in watching the British realise the ineptitude of their very own politicians’

Khadija Patel, editor-in-chief, the Mail & Guardian newspaper, Johannesburg

Individuals discover Brexit inexplicable and are losing interest by it. There’s some curiosity within the political spectacle, however the significance of Nice Britain within the consciousness of South Africa has waned. But there’s a gleefulness in watching the British realise the ineptitude of their very own politicians. I assume we suffered once they had been colonial rulers, and Boris Johnson [encapsulates] every thing you would possibly lampoon about Britain and its concept of itself.

In South Africa we now have issues with our personal politicians, and it’s virtually consoling to see that we aren’t alone. Britain is attempting to determine itself out in 2019 and is instantly realising that it’s not that essential any extra.

Britain has come to consider itself in very noble phrases, and to do this it has needed to basically erase its dealings with the colonies. Its historical past has been written that means. I’m a fourth-generation South African of Indian descent, so my very own historical past is riddled with Britain’s colonialism, and all that’s glossed over.

After all we had been stunned by the referendum end result, however once you zoom out a bit all of it is smart. Now we have seen comparable shocks elsewhere – Trump, Modi in India, Bolsonaro in Brazil and so forth. The world pattern in direction of populism is horrifying. It basically undermines democracy.

I’m going to be serious about how Boris Johnson offers with Africa… I don’t suppose that [South African president] Cyril Ramaphosa or [foreign minister] Naledi Pandor are going to reply very properly to him as a critical interlocutor with proposals about strengthening ties between our two nations.

Britain won’t ever maintain that smooth energy once more, no means.
As instructed to Jason Burke

Alexey Venediktov


Russia: ‘Our leaders see Boris Johnson as short-term – a clown. They’ll await the brand new chief’

Alexey Venediktov, editor-in-chief, Echo of Moscow radio station

The financial management of Russia shouldn’t be glad [about Brexit]. They suppose turbulence shouldn’t be in our curiosity as a result of Russia has a reasonably weak economic system in the intervening time. It modifications the principles now, whereas we’re weak. They’re involved concerning the future.

However the political management see a united entrance of western nations towards them, and so they see any weakening – the separatist motion in Catalonia, the rise of Salvini in Italy, the expansion of the far proper within the Netherlands and Germany, the exit of the UK from the EU – as a constructive, as a result of it makes our opponents have a look at themselves, not at us.

I don’t see a chance [for relations to improve]. The bilateral relationship isn’t decided by whether or not or not the UK is within the EU. Our relationships of late have largely been decided by the Skripal case, and the British management is now seen as probably the most actively hostile European authorities to Russia.

[Of greater importance to diplomacy is] Vladimir Putin’s private relationship with a frontrunner, as we noticed with George W Bush. Regardless of political variations, they’d [a rapport] that helped easy over most of the issues between Russia and the US. Sadly, the view of Boris Johnson within the management is sort of damaging. They don’t suppose he’s critical. They suppose he’s a clown. And second, they suppose he has little assist in his celebration and his nation. So he’s short-term… we’ll await the brand new chief.
As instructed to Andrew Roth

Jen Kirby, vox.com


The US: ‘Trump’s US doesn’t look as determined for associates because the UK does in its break up from the EU’

Jen Kirby, overseas and nationwide safety reporter, Vox

Brexit, and the rise of Boris Johnson, is a drama Individuals know they’re supposed to concentrate to, if solely we weren’t so consumed by our personal. We get that the drama is expounded. Nobody thought Britain would vote to depart the EU, till it did. Nobody thought Trump would win the presidency, till he did.

What occurred within the UK in June 2016 later regarded just like the harbinger of America’s political upheaval. Or perhaps it felt extra soothing that means. Right here, America might not have wished to be first.

If the comparisons between Trump and Brexit appeared simple – the rise of populism and rightwing nationalism; the mistrust of establishments and the “elite” – it turned clear the occasions related in deeper, murkier methods. Misinformation turned a characteristic of each the referendum and the presidential marketing campaign: the UK had the Brexit bus, the US had (properly, nonetheless has) Trump’s twitter feed. Faux information was amplified on social media, together with by Russian trolls. Cambridge Analytica appeared as a villain in each. So, in some way, did Steve Bannon.

Johnson’s ascension to prime minister feels a bit like we nonetheless don’t get it, that every one the forces that made Trump and Brexit doable have solely hardened within the three years since. Johnson, Individuals know, is the man that bought Brexit, and Brexit actually has not gone properly. However his celebration, no less than, is shopping for into his imaginative and prescient, even doubling down on it. It places a knot in our abdomen about 2020.

Johnson isn’t precisely “Britain’s Trump”. Their commonalities are principally superficial: born in New York, each have populist enchantment regardless of a privileged upbringing; each court docket controversy and are homeowners of questionable hairstyles. However Johnson seems extra savvy, extra shrewd, extra deliberate. He’s Trump, if Trump had been in on the joke.

The tip end result could be the identical for each nations: leaders who cater to the voters who purchase into their rhetoric, leaving everybody else to sentence their lies. Two males who needs to be solid off as ridiculous had been they not so able to tapping into anger, resentment, racism.

Johnson and Trump will meet as heads of state on the G7 later this month, and the following, weirder stage of the particular relationship will start. It might be short-lived. Trump’s presidency has strained democratic alliances, and amplified some uncomfortable bonds, from Jair Bolsonaro to Mohammad bin Salman. However the US beneath Trump doesn’t look as determined for associates because the UK does in its breakup with the EU. The Brexiters appear to suppose that the US might be a greater substitute for the EU. However Trump can’t be trusted, notably not on commerce, the place his one organising precept is that everybody’s out to benefit from the US. And even when Trump will get together with Johnson now, he could be wanting over his shoulder for somebody higher, or, actually, simply Nigel Farage.

Fernanda Mena, Folha de São Paulo


Brazil: ‘The UK seems fixated by itself issues – it’s shedding relevance fairly shortly’

Fernanda Mena, columnist, Folha de São Paulo

Lots of my friends, upper-middle-class Paulistas, are anglophiles, individuals who recognize Britain because the homeland of concepts of liberalism, free markets and multiculturalism – all strengthened by the smooth energy of British popular culture. Now we have at all times seen London as one of many capitals of the world – very cosmopolitan and stuffed with youth tradition.

And as Brazilians we all know that Brits generally are higher educated than us. So it was fairly stunning to see folks being pushed by lies to vote for Brexit – and betraying all these rules of multiculturalism, liberalism and free markets.

I used to be incredulous after I heard the end result, however wanting again on the time I spent learning in London, there have been one or two issues that might have given me an indication of what was to come back. For instance, the scandal that broke in 2009 about Primark paying very low wages to Manchester textile staff – we by no means considered the British working-class as being as exploited as staff in japanese Asia. And naturally this has to do with globalisation.

A hyperlink between Brexit and Brazil is the usage of social media to focus on unsure and weak voters with faux information. It occurred right here in Jair Bolsonaro’s election – and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Bolsonaro is near Steve Bannon, who was key in Trump’s election.

It regarded mad that Britain wished to depart the world’s largest buying and selling bloc. In June, Brazil, as a part of the Mercosur financial space, signed a serious commerce cope with the EU, so I believe the connection we now have with the UK might be a lot weaker. My impression with Brexit is that quite a lot of corporations will go away the UK. The UK remains to be the fifth-largest economic system however for the way for much longer? It seems so self-centred, fixated by itself issues that it’s at present out of the worldwide debate – it’s shedding relevance fairly shortly.
As instructed to Ian Tucker



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