[We wrote this text on October the 17th, but the discussion will take into account the most recent events]
With Brexit looming large, we decided to tackle this issue from a specific perspective, British soft power.
The United Kingdom is currently ranked 1st on the Soft Power Index. This is particularly interesting in three ways.
Firstly, we think that the current definition of soft power gives a strong argument to hard brexiteers, whose on the main arguments is that the United Kingdom does not need European Union to be a great power. Couldn’t the excellent results of the UK on the Soft Power Index strengthen this idea ? Could the Soft Power Index give an illusion about the national essence of soft power ? Isn’t the discrepancy between British Soft Power (1st in the World) and British economic power (6th or 7th in the world) one of the roots of brexiteers’ disillusions ?
Secondly, how will Brexit impact British soft power ? We could consider that some aspects of its soft power will remain as strong as before (literature, newspapers, universities, the crown, pop culture, premier league), but some of UK’s strengths could be thrown into jeopardy by Brexit : will international students still want to come to the UK ? Will London still be a financial hub ? Will British parliament still be one of the models of parliamentary life after three years of continuous political crisis, which showed its incapacity to propose solutions ?
Thirdly, how will Brexit impact the European Union soft power ? Will the European Union compensate for the loss of soft power it will represent ? What should the European Commission do to increase the soft power of the European Union ?
Find here what Joseph Nye thinks about these issue to prepare the debate (see below in French, and for the English version here).