8 Mar 2019

Brexit vs the world: Is Britain too self-obsessed? | Politics: Where Next? podcast

Political Editor

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On this week’s episode:

As the Brexit process treads water, we’ve decided to stand back and ask: does Brexit matter in the big scheme of things? Is it virtually irrelevant beside the forces that are shaping our changing world?

I chat to Peter Frankopan, Oxford professor of global history and author of the best-selling The Silk Roads and The New Silk Roads.

He writes amongst other things about China’s growth, its mastery of artificial intelligence, its global reach and ambitions. We asked him to tell us where the world is going and whether Brexit is a small detail in all that.

Frankopan tells me:

  • The primary issue in China, as in Iran, as in Russia, and Theresa May to a certain extent, is about regime survival – can you keep the people who hold the levers of power in place?
  • There is a crisis of political leadership in almost every country right now… There will be someone who comes and unites.
  • The EU six months ago would say the EU has no geopolitical view, we’re only here for trade. And that is having to change… These trade blocs are likely to become more sharp-elbowed – it is more likely that we will get tariffs imposed by Trump or by the EU against other states.
  • The things that make me worried when I sleep at night are not what happens with the meaningful vote, the things that make me can’t sleep is what happens between India and Pakistan, there are any number of flash-points in the South China Sea or between Iran and Saudi Arabia that could escalate, Afghanistan on a trajectory to god know’s where.
  • In other parts of the world, the speed at which things get done… China building a 59 storey skyscraper in 30 days, we’ve just passed the £5 billion mark on the HS2 project and we haven’t laid a single metre of track.
  • It doesn’t look to be plausible what Theresa May said that Britain’s best days lie ahead of us.

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