Rethinking Britain’s Role in a Differentiated Europe after Brexit: A Comparative Regionalism Perspective
Once outside the EU, the UK will have to develop a new relationship with its former partners in the EU and other pan-European bodies such as NATO, and this will require the UK to re-evaluate its sense of its global and regional importance. We argue in particular that the comparative literature on awkward states in regional integration and regionalism, as well as that on middle powers in international relations, can help us understand the ways in which the UK’s likely future relations with its continental neighbours can be approached and understood. In this article we focus on future UK–EU relations, drawing on Alex Warleigh-Lack’s typology of regionalization processes to develop maximalist and minimalist understandings of how the UK–EU relationship of the future could be structured. We then draw on the literature on middle powers, as well as that devoted to three other awkward states in their respective regions, namely Australia, Japan and Norway, to illustrate how these relationships have worked in practice, and thus how the UK could seek to structure its future regional role.