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Opinion
Hal Brands

Pass or Fail, Brexit Has Destroyed Britain’s Brilliant Global Strategy

For 70 years, the U.K. leveraged relationships with the U.S. and Europe to punch above its weight.

The end of a special relationship.

The end of a special relationship.

Photographer: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

With the decisive parliamentary “meaningful vote” scheduled for Tuesday, this week is the moment of truth for the Brexit deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May. The fate of that agreement will obviously have momentous implications for the future of the U.K. Yet whether May’s deal survives or not, the events of the past two years have already signaled a larger rupture in London’s relationship with the world.

Ever since World War II, a relatively declining U.K. punched above its weight in international affairs by forging special — albeit very different — relationships with the U.S. and Europe. Yet both of those relationships are now collapsing, and taking with them the outsized influence a post-imperial Britain was able to wield.