Britain’s No-Deal Debacle? The Costs at Home and Likely Setbacks Abroad

LSE IDEAS Strategic Update by John Ryan

Brexit — Endgame of the Reluctant European? — The Phase of Scepticism 1945–2016

The EU referendum vote on 23 June 2016 represented the biggest political decision many British voters have made in their lifetime. The British public in turn delivered a result that can easily be classified as one of the biggest recent political shocks (Armstrong, 2017).

No-Deal Brexit Consequences for Ireland

Brexit was not inevitable. It was most of all the outcome of multi-generational failures of British political leadership. (Sobolewska and Ford, 2020). The Republic of Ireland will be hit hardest politically and economically by a No-Deal Brexit, while the opportunity for unity may also become a probability.

The 2020 Irish Republic Election Result Has Recast Ireland’s Political Dynamics

Ireland’s political landscape has now been redrawn. Sinn Féin has won the popular vote in the Irish election, securing 24.5 percent of first preferences in the country’s electoral system of single transferable votes. Opposition party Fianna Fáil came second with 22.2 percent, and Leo Varadkar’s ruling Fine Gael a dismal third on 20.9percent. As far as seat distribution is concerned, Fianna Fáil received 38 seats, down 6 seats in 2016. Sinn Féin won 37 seats, up 14 on 2016, and Fine Gael dropped16 seats to end up with 35 seats. This means that Fine Gael had the third worst vote result in its history (after1944 and 1948), while, for Fianna Fail, it was the second worst ever (after its post-crash humiliation in 2011).

A Joe Biden Presidency and Congress May Block US-UK Post-Brexit Trade Deal

In June 2017, then UK Prime Minister Theresa May called an election that lost the Conservatives’ parliamentary majority and made her party dependent on the DUP to form a government. The DUP, a fiercely pro-union party that had opposed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the island of Ireland, used its new leverage in Parliament to block any differentiated status for Northern Ireland after Brexit lest it weaken the union. Bowing to the DUP’s demands, the Prime Minister tried to appease her coalition partners by widening the alignment to encompass the UK, not just Northern Ireland. This in turn infuriated the other Brexiteers.


A No-Deal Brexit is an unpredictable outcome that poses a risk to the financial stability of the UK, EU and beyond. Regardless of how EU leaders choose to answer the questions posed by Brexit, the instability and uncertainty will not end anytime soon. Britain became the first country ever to leave the 28-nation European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says these negotiations must conclude by 31 December 2020, meaning a No-Deal Brexit if they are not, with Britain leaving on “most favoured nation” terms under World Trade Organisation rules. These are the same rules under which Britain currently operates much of its global trade, including with China, Russia, and the United States, and is therefore a feasible default position.


Armstrong, Kenneth. “Brexit Time: Leaving the EU — Why, How and When?”, Cambridge University Press, 2017



LSE IDEAS is LSE’s foreign policy think tank. We connect academic knowledge of diplomacy and strategy with the people who use it.

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LSE IDEAS is LSE’s foreign policy think tank. We connect academic knowledge of diplomacy and strategy with the people who use it.