Britain and Africa: Heading for the Brexit Rocks

Africa Spectrum, Vol. 53., No. 2, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018

See all articles by Dirk Kohnert

Dirk Kohnert

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs

Date Written: August 30, 2018


High-flying illusions on the part of the proponents and grim predictions of the sceptics characterize the controversy about Brexit. The article analyses five issues at stake for the Post-Brexit relationships between Britain, the EU, and Africa with a focus on those Sub-Saharan African countries that belong to the Commonwealth: market access, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), aid, security, and partnership. The British government’s vision of a ‘Global Britain’ relies heavily on a reinforced co-operation with Commonwealth nations. However, most likely this would be possible only at the expense of the poor in Africa and elsewhere. Concerning security cooperation with Africa, London apparently exaggerated its defence input in order to enhance its bargaining position with the EU. It will be crucial for both the EU and the UK to find post-Brexit agreements to stem irregular migration and the growth of jihadist groups and terrorism. In a nutshell, the analysis of these different policy fields shows that expectations of Brexiteers and African politicians alike concerning an enhanced, partner-like Post-Brexit Commonwealth relationship are largely unfounded.

Keywords: UK, Brexit, EU, Africa, International Trade, Tariffs, Aid, Security, Partnership

JEL Classification: F13, F2, F35, F54, F63, G15, G2, H26, N17, N47, N77, O17, P16, Z13

Suggested Citation

Kohnert, Dirk, Britain and Africa: Heading for the Brexit Rocks (August 30, 2018). Africa Spectrum, Vol. 53., No. 2, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Dirk Kohnert (Contact Author)

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs ( email )

German Inst. of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
D-20354 Hamburg


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