This article was first published on The Commentator
Britain has extraordinary reserves of both soft and hard power which it will continue to employ after Brexit. The scaremongers who say we will be weakened without membership of the European Union understand neither the EU nor Britain.
Britain’s place in the world will remain strong after Brexit’. This a soundbite you won’t hear much in the media, but its truth will be clear for all to see after we finally Leave the European Union.
Global influence is measured in two ways: hard power and soft power. Hard power is the potential ability of a country to use military and economic means to get its way in international relations. Soft-power is different — it is non-coercive. It is simply using the natural appeal of a country’s culture to influence world affairs.
Not only does Britain punch above its weight in hard power terms with its military, it does so too with its world class soft power.
In fact, Britain does not just punch above its weight in soft power, it ranks with the best in the world full stop — with highly respected institutions, cultural exports and global trade ties.
These inherent strengths are the lynch pins which have been the basis of the UK’s global influence for decades — centuries even. They exerted Britain’s influence long before the European Union came to exist and will continue to do so long after the UK has left the European Union.
The UK remains the pre-eminent military power in Europe. The Royal Navy’s two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, once they are fitted with their F-35Bs, will give the UK a greater ability to project power around the globe than any other European nation, and by a considerable margin.
This is important for the UK in maintaining its global power status through its key roles as both a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and within NATO.
It should be noted here though, given recent funding cuts to our armed forces, for the UK to remain the number one military power in Europe after Brexit, this will clearly have to be paid for. There will no doubt be intense competition in Whitehall as to where the extra funds retrieved from our EU contributions should go. Our Armed Forces, given particular threats in the Middle East as well as potential threats from further afield in North Korea, will certainly need to receive a portion of this.
However, perhaps one of our most underplayed assets in the whole discussion around Brexit, is the UK’s soft power. The UK’s cultural influence globally is priceless, and will allow us to strengthen our ties around the world post-Brexit.
Our creative industries are world-leading. Our art, film and music are appreciated all over the world. One needs to only look at the global success of TV programmes like Downton Abbey and Top Gear to see the point.
The UK’s universities are also world-leading. In fact, Europe has nothing comparable. Of the world’s top 20 universities, 4 are in the UK, 1 is in Continental Europe — but not in the EU (Switzerland). The rest are in the United States.
This matters, not only for our reputation as a higher education heavyweight, but for the future prosperity of the economy as world-class universities drive world-class technological innovation.
All this adds up to Great Britain being a nation quite capable of wielding influence in the world simply on its own merits. Indeed, in-depth reports on the UK’s status in the world reflect this.
The Soft Power 30, which in recent years has become a highly respected report is illustrative. Put together by Portland Communications and the University of Southern California’s Center On Public Diplomacy, it placed the UK at No.2 in the World for soft power in 2017, and this was a low point, Britain having been No.1 in 2016 and 2015.
In September, the Henry Jackson Society released its ‘Audit of Geopolitical Capability’, which combined both the hard and soft-power of nations to produce a comprehensive ranking of countries’ influence and capability in the world. In this report the UK was ranked as the No. 2 power in the world, only behind the United States.
The UK has many, many assets in its favour – entirely independent of our membership of the EU – which contribute to the UK’s influence around the globe.
As Britons, we can be confident, and we should disregard Remainer howls about Britain shutting itself off from the world.
When we Get Britain Out of the EU we will remain the global power we have always been, and our ties with the rest of the world will strengthen as our trade links grow.
Jayne Adye is the Director of cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out