In a speech in London on Tuesday, former UK Prime Minister John Major lashed out at the Brexit project, arguing that Britain is "no longer a great power" and "will never be so again".
"Our hefty international influence rested on our history and reputation, buttressed by our membership of the European Union and our close alliance with the United States. Suddenly, we are no longer an irreplaceable bridge between Europe and America”, Major claimed.
He predicted that on 1 January 2020 Brexit may be even more brutal than anyone expected” due to the UK's negotiating "inflexibility", which in turn may result in a “less prosperous” future for the UK.
"We are a top second-rank power but, over the next half century – however well we perform – our small size and population makes it likely we will be passed by the growth of other, far larger, countries”, the ex-prime minister asserted.
Major also lambasted the government over their Internal Market Bill, adding that “for the first time in our long history ministers have proposed legislation giving them powers to break the law”.
“This is a slippery slope down which no democratic government should ever travel”, he claimed, in an apparent nod to a bill that aims to give the government more power over devolved areas, including Northern Ireland in the EU's Customs Union in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
The cabinet earlier admitted that the legislation may ride roughshod over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, in a statement that prompted heated debate within the governing Conservative Party, as well as harsh criticism from the UK opposition and the EU.
Major’s grim predictions for the future of Britain came after Lord Falconer, Labour's shadow attorney general, asserted in an interview with Sky News late last week that the government is "in a big hole" over the Internal Market Bill, and that the UK’s global clout may be affected by the possible US presidency of Joe Biden.
“What on earth is the point of making the United Kingdom an international pariah, just at the moment a [potential] new president of the United States emerges saying, not only do I want the British government to comply with the [Brexit-related] Northern Ireland protocol, but I want a law-abiding world?" Lord Falconer asked.
He spoke after Biden declared himself president-elect on Saturday, even though the official results of the 3 November US election have yet to be announced. Incumbent President Donald Trump refused to concede defeat and has claimed that the election race is “far from over”, initiating a legal battle against what he describes as illegal votes.
EU, UK in Post-Brexit Trade Talks
Meanwhile, hopes for an imminent post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU evaporated last Tuesday, when the European Commission said the two sides had not yet found a deal on sharing access to fishing waters and markets.
However, since Britain officially withdrew from the EU in January, it refuses to maintain the status quo, despite Brussels' wish to continue enjoying access to UK fisheries. Still, both sides hope to clinch a trade deal in the next three weeks in the run-up to the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.