UK’s global influence at risk if it separates from European Union

November 8, 2016 10:30 pm

Sir Simon Fraser (R) worked alongside Philip Hammond at the Foreign Office. (Photo by Getty images)

’s global influence is at risk if separates from the European Union’s single market and continues to denigrate foreigners, a former government official has warned.
Sir Simon Fraser, who was permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office until last year, said it was inevitable that the vote to leave the EU would diminish UK influence overseas.
“No matter how well we manage the process and however good the assets we have, structurally it is going to be much more difficult to exert global influence after Brexit,” Fraser said on Monday at King’s College in London.
“There is already evidence of potential self-harm in our behavior to foreign people: the reported spike in hate crime, the insensitive comments of some British politicians, and the shocking press coverage of the legal judgment on article 50,” he warned.
“I hope our political leaders will show more skill and wisdom in the next chapter of our European relationships than over the last decade, which was strewn with diplomatic errors and misjudgments,” he said.
The Brexit vote in June has been blamed for a sharp rise in hate crimes against non-Britons, with more than 2,300 assaults in London recorded in the 38 days after the EU referendum, compared with 1,400 in the 38 days before the vote.
Fraser, who is a specialist in the Middle East and European trade, s concerned that Theresa May’s cabinet is insufficiently aware of the way in which European opinion is hardening against Britain.
He fears that the chances of reaching a logical result with the EU on a future relationship are being damaged by London’s xenophobic rhetoric.
“My concern is, whatever our ambition and intent, the process of our EU separation will suck our policy and political energy inwards, far more so if it leads to an existential crisis over Scotland or a deterioration of peace and and security in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Other countries that had the UK down as a stable and active player in world affairs are unsure at the moment where we are heading.”
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