On June 23, 2016, the UK voted in a referendum on the stark question, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union?” The shocking result, by 52 percent to 48 percent, was in favor of leaving. So began an unprecedented national convulsion of historic (and even “hysteric”) proportions, as a protracted and tortuous process of disentanglement began.
It’s a bit like a divorce. Once it is clear a marriage is over, then comes the painful process of negotiating the terms of the divorce. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty states that a member country that wishes to leave the EU must officially inform the European Council, from which date negotiations can begin, and should be concluded within a two-year time frame. Article 50 was formally invoked by Britain at the end of March 2017 following extensive parliamentary debate and a successful vote in favour of officially launching Brexit. “Divorce” proceedings then began in earnest, with every prospect of being difficult and challenging.
This raises a monumental question: Can Britain survive and thrive outside the EU, or does this painful and complex “divorce” herald the death knell of a once-great nation? Will it be a self-destructive meltdown inflicting irreparable harm for generations to come? For a clear and forthright answer, you can read about Prime Minister Theresa May’s grand vision of a new “Global Britain” articulated by twelve simple objectives in her Brexit Speech of January 17, 2017.
Whether or not this successful future can be realised depends on surmounting four major hurdles. Let’s call them blessings, because Britain cannot continue to prosper without these blessings on the nation’s efforts.
While just over half of the UK is delighted to be leaving the EU, a little under half is not, and would go to almost any lengths to reverse that decision. But Mrs. May’s government is unequivocal: Britain has spoken and its express will must stand! Britain is leaving the EU! Britain intends to negotiate an entirely new status as a sovereign nation trading with the EU. Will the nation grant its collective blessing on this positive future?
Britain is a democracy in which the will of the people is expressed through Parliament. What Parliament says, goes! Britain decided that Parliament must give its permission to initiate Brexit negotiations. Parliament insisted on staying informed throughout the progress of negotiations and will have a say in giving its blessing—or otherwise—on the final result, whenever that happens in 2018 or 2019. This is expected to be a challenging and hard-fought process with numerous opportunities to frustrate or even derail the overall journey towards separation. Will Parliament finally give its blessing to the Brexit process?
North of the border, the ruling Scottish nationalists are set on calling their own (second) referendum about leaving the UK sometime during the next two years. Their intent is to frustrate the Brexit negotiations and use them as a pretext to leave the UK. Such a move could therefore lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. Time will tell whether the Scots will give their blessing to Brexit.
We should never underestimate the strength of will that the EU’s leadership brings to their vision of “ever closer union.” This year sees the EU celebrating 60 years of progress towards this goal. But while some ask whether Britain can survive outside the EU, others ask whether the EU can survive without Britain. Popular movements in France, Holland, Italy and even Germany would follow Britain’s example if only they could. By the time the elections in all these countries are concluded, we shall more clearly see the state of the EU.
Consequently, the EU is in no mood to be nice. Some would like to see Britain punished for “messing things up,” yet such a move could threaten the survival of the Union in its current form. Britain has also warned that “no deal” would be preferable to a “bad deal.” So which will it be? Will the EU spoil the Brexit “party” and effectively withhold its blessing? Or will wiser counsels prevail, leading to an amicable and accommodating “divorce” in both parties’ best interests? And we should remember that the final say on the Brexit negotiations must be a unanimous blessing of all other 27 EU member countries. That’s a big “ask” to say the least!
Lying at the heart of Brexit is the conviction that Britain can go it alone as “Global Britain,” re-inventing itself on the world scene as the great trading nation that it once was. Britain has a global mentality in its DNA, and considerable past “form” and experience defending democracy, freedom and trade. Britain lies at the heart of the 52-nation Commonwealth, and sits at the top table of the United Nations.
Once the Brexit process is complete, bilateral trade deals beckon with most other nations, large and small. U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated America will place Britain at the head of the queue in quickly putting into place an effective trade deal. On the global trade front, the future after Brexit looks rosy. It seems that most of the world’s trading nations are ready to grant their blessing to a new Global Britain.
It’s tempting to think that God doesn’t care too much either way about Brexit. But this is not the case. Compelling evidence suggests that Britain has been (along with America) the recipient of God’s remarkable birthright blessings to Abraham through his grandson (Jacob/Israel) and his great-grandson Joseph (Genesis 48:13–22). Jacob was the “apple of God’s eye” (Deuteronomy 32:9–10). This suggests that God cares deeply about the progress of Britain.
Throughout the Scriptures, God warned Israel not to forget Him or depart from His laws. It is the same today. We should never underestimate the importance of God’s blessings on the world scene, nor what happens when those blessings are withdrawn.
Brexit takes place against a background of profoundly deteriorating world affairs. Humankind is living right at the end of its allotted time. The prophesied time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) is set within the context of remarkable end-time events (30:24) that include the return of Jesus Christ to rule the earth (33:15–16), and the resurrection of David to be the king (30:9) of a newly united nation of Israel (30:3; 31:27–28), with whom God will initiate a new covenant relationship (31:31–34).
Will Brexit, despite the best of intentions, yet become derailed and overtaken by unforeseen developments, as the world becomes progressively engulfed by end-time events?
We wish Britain well. But don’t forget the vital dimension of God’s blessing and the context of fulfillment of end-time prophecies. You can read a lot more about this context by writing for our free booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.