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A post-Brexit Britain will necessarily be aggressive

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent statements regarding Anglo-Russian relations in Berlin are primarily economically driven.

Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Padraig McGrath, political analyst…

On January 19th, following his brief meeting with Vladimir Putin at the Libyan peace conference in Berlin, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s press office released the following statement:

“The Prime Minister said there will be no normalization of our bilateral relationship until Russia ends the destabilizing activity that threatens the UK and our allies and undermines the safety of our citizens and our collective security.”

Russian officials expressed surprise at this statement, considering that Johnson himself had sought a one-on-one with Putin in Berlin. A government source in Moscow later added that “his tone was closer to conciliatory, there were no harsh statements whatsoever… the main message of the British prime minister was a bid to improve relations with Russia.”

This is a classic case of a government official attempting unsuccessfully to appear naïve.

Both sides understand perfectly well that there is no contradiction whatsoever between the absence of hostility in Johnson’s demeanour toward Putin in Berlin and the wording of the subsequent statement released by his press-office.

In interpreting the machinations of international relations, it is almost always best to assume that all sides are rational actors in an amoral game. Behind closed doors, neither side will take the least offence if the other side publicly condemns them using the harshest moral language. Everybody understands that moralizing is just another cynical stratagem in the game. It has a strategic value. Use what you’ve got.

Let’s imagine, hypothetically, that Johnson and Putin were to have an entirely private, off the record, one-on-one conversation, allowing them both to speak with total candour. Of course, protocols make it impossible that this could ever happen, but if it did, it might sound something like this:

JOHNSON: Okay, Vladimir, you already know our game-plan. You know we’re going to press the Skripal button ad nauseam. You know we’re going to moan about human rights and international law. You know we’re going to use the collocation “Russian aggression” at every available opportunity. You know that we’re going to back US sanctions to try to freeze you out of markets. What else do you expect us to do? We’ve got business to protect. No hard feelings. It’s just business….

PUTIN: Don’t worry, Boris. Of course there are no hard feelings. I get it.

This will especially be the case in the post-Brexit era. Britain will once again have to be aggressive on multiple levels in order to protect its remaining markets and penetrate new ones. The inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit on January 20th quickly followed the inaugural Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum held in Sochi in October last year. These developments provide yet 2 more thematically resonant illustrations of the idea that “the nineteenth century will never end.”

Firstly, with the global power-vacuum created by the steady contraction of American hegemony, there is a new economic scramble for Africa, just as there was in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic wars.

Secondly, Russia and Britain have decided to resume playing “the Great Game,” except this time on a different continent.

Furthermore, Johnson has to, at all costs, protect Britain’s core-business, which is offshorization. With the deindustrialization and financialization which has taken place in the British economy over the past half century, Britain’s global archipelago of tax-havens becomes even more important. In fact, it is highly arguable that protecting these channels for the washing of black money through the City of London was the main impetus behind Brexit in the first place. In economic terms, Brexit essentially hinged on the decision to switch to an almost totally financialized economy, based almost exclusively on offshorization (made easier through the dissolution of treaty-arrangements), rather than a normal economy based upon the production, import and export of goods. Now more than ever, economically, Britain is one giant, post-industrial laundromat.

It just so happens that some of the laundromat’s most voluminous clients are former Russian oligarchs. Boris has to keep his clients happy.

However, with this in mind, it immediately becomes clear how Britain’s economic interests would most concretely be served by the economic re-colonization of Russia, the re-oligarchization of Russia, or the balkanization of Russia. All and any of these developments would require a massive shadow-infrastructure for clandestine financial transactions. Whereas American interests would benefit from Russia’s balkanization principally through renewed direct access to cheap natural resources, Britain’s primary interest would consist in mediating the flows of illicit capital through a global labyrinth of financial entities. Nobody dreams of the balkanization of Russia more than fund-managers in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands or the Cayman Islands. Can you imagine the quantities of “chorny-nal” (“black cash”) that would generate?

Well, Britain and its dependencies have about 60% of the entire global financial clandestine infrastructure which would handle that kind of traffic.

So don’t blame Boris. What do you expect him to do? He’s got business to protect.

In many ways, the role of a prime minister can be thought of as analogous to the professional role of a criminal defence attorney. The criminal defence attorney’s job is to act in his client’s interests. The criminal defence attorney usually knows that his client is guilty, and should go to prison. But it’s not his place to make such judgments, because he is not acting in his capacity as a private moral agent. In his professional capacity as an attorney, he has a professional duty to try to get the client off. He has a professional duty to park his private moral impulses.

Analogously, the prime minister’s perspective must be “My country, right or wrong.”

It’s simply not his job to render an impartial moral assessment of the justifiability or otherwise of his nation’s conduct or its internal culture.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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January 21, 2020

The prime minister is the government! He defines the policies that govern his country inland and via foreign policy. It is the prime minister’s job to lead his country back to a legal and honorable conduct. Especially after Brexit: UK’s working classes voted for Brexit in the belief that it would restore a manufacturing based economy with better jobs for them. Boris better live up to that promise: it is he who assured them so.

January 21, 2020

Johnson is a free market capitalist. He despises government assistance for the poor or middle classes, this includes pensions, childcare and healthcare. Further he considers any guarantees of secure employment, housing and state assistance for the physically or mentally disabled, as wasteful, inefficient, incompetent and morally reprehensible. Even if the only alternative is death.
The british political system is akin to a giant meat grinder in which the people are put into the top and money comes out of the bottom.

January 21, 2020

How can Russia or China deal with Britain, when the British have to OK every deal with the Americans.

Reply to  Michael
January 21, 2020

The answer is they don’t take a blind bit of notice of our pathetic and petulant little country, which will soon have even less relation to the nation it was once was than the modern Greeks do to Sparta and Athens or Egyptians to the land of the Pharaohs. Does anyone? I am sure Putin views Johnson as someone might think of a spoilt brat throwing tantrums and then expecting to be indulged.

No Tickee, No Washee
No Tickee, No Washee
Reply to  Michael
January 22, 2020

Why bother? Just let their little off-shore laundry slowly fold.

Rue Britannia
Rue Britannia
January 22, 2020

Of course it’ll be aggressive. Brits know no other way. America’s trained on command pit toy poodle bulls.

With essentially a 0 manufacturing base left, but with a still passable engineering class, can you imagine what cooperation with Russia would bring in economic benefits? Meanwhile, the only thing I’ve ever seen of theirs on sale in the US is Scottish hagas recipes on EBay. Pick your partners and weep, fellows. Oh, and don’t forget those Mandarin classes.

Jane Karlsson
Jane Karlsson
January 22, 2020

“ is highly arguable that protecting these channels for the washing of black money through the City of London was the main impetus behind Brexit in the first place.”


The cover was this: “We have to escape from suffocating EU regulations so our world-beating biotechnology can start curing people and feeding the world.”

I know a rich City banker who I tried to enlighten about this. His response, or lack of it, suggested to me he knew perfectly well.

Nicholas Hazen
January 26, 2020

The problem and the reason for pervasive Russophobia in the West has its origins in the British Foreign Office. Whitehall has been the source of this intrigue since at least the mid 19th century. They feed Washington constantly, being absolutely certain of the opinion they really control matters in the Anglosphere…
… Silly Wabbit…

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