The UK recently voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU (commonly known as ‘Brexit). Before the referendum, many industry experts predicted that a ‘Leave’ victory would damage the country’s standing worldwide. However, a new study has suggested that the UK has retained its strong global reputation, following its decision to depart from the EU.
The referendum result threw the UK into disarray. The Pound’s value sank to its lowest level since 1985 1, David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the opposing Labour Party was placed under doubt. Many ‘Remain’ voters took to voicing their displeasure with the result on social media 2.
Two weeks on, the Financial Times 3 reports that global markets are fast- recovering from Brexit. It is unlikely that the UK will trigger Article 50 4 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which begins the two-year process of leaving the EU, anytime
soon. Following the vote, David Cameron announced that he will leave this to his successor. Prominent Leave campaigners such as former London Mayor Boris Johnson have since argued that the UK should wait to trigger Article 50, meaning it is likely that the country will remain an EU member for the foreseeable future.
Value of reputation
The Reputation Institute’s recently released 2016 Country Rep Track Index 5 illustrates how Brexit has impacted the UK’s global reputation. The Institute scored 55 nations from 0 – 100 in terms of overall reputation, based on over 58,000 ratings collected from the general public in these territories throughout the opening quarter of 2016, just before the Brexit vote.
The Institute argues that a nation’s reputation affects its financial performance, tourism and export markets, as well as its ability to attract global investment and talent. The advisory firm noted that there is a strong link between supportive behaviours and a good national reputation, meaning that “people are more likely to visit a country, recommend living or working there, buy their products and services, and invest,” if it has a positive image abroad.
The nations surveyed by the Reputation Institute were grouped into five categories. These were “excellent” (+80%), “strong” (70% – 79%), “average” (60% – 69%), “weak” (40% – 59%) and “poor” (-40%). The UK attained a “strong” score of 71.1%, making it the tenth highest ranking European territory in the Institute’s 2016 Country Rep Track Index.
Over the past three years, the UK’s global ranking has steadily improved. It rose from 66.7% in 2014, to 69.5% in 2015, to a high of 71.1% in this year’s Index. Meanwhile, the UK’s standing in Europe has remained steady within the same space of time. In 2014, the UK was the 11th highest ranking European territory surveyed, rising to 10th in 2015 and retaining this position in 2016.
Of the 55 nations included, 20 were European, with seven of these territories making it into the global top ten in 2016. Sweden topped the European rankings at 78.3%, with Switzerland (77%), Norway (76.1%), Finland (75%) and Denmark (75%) rounding out the top five. The UK beat France (69.3%) and the EU’s largest economy Germany (67.5%), which ranked at 11th and 14th respectively.
Outside of Europe
The UK retains a strong reputation outside of Europe. It was named an ideal investment destination by 68% of Brazilians, 67% of Indians, 61% of Mexicans, 54% of Russians and 51% of Americans questioned. Commenting, Reputation Institute Executive Partner Kasper Ulf Nielsen said: “This goodwill will prove crucial in ensuring the UK remains a significant economic power in the aftermath of our break from the EU.”
The UK was also named a great place to work by many respondents from non-European nations. This view was expressed by 74% of Indians, 71% of Russians, 70% of Brazilians, 70% of Mexicans and 56% of Americans. A large number of respondents from emerging economies, including 76% of Indians and 63% of Chinese respondents questioned, said that they would recommend buying products and services from the UK, due partially to its long-established, globally famous brands.
Speaking further, Nielsen noted: “The positive reputation the UK has established within the global community prior to the EU referendum suggests the long-term economic outlook may not be as bleak as first imagined. By leveraging the high esteem existent amongst the largest economies in the world pre-Brexit, the UK has the chance to look to wider markets for investment, attract a talented workforce from outside the European Union, and develop a diversified export market. Taking advantage of the positive reputation within the likes of India, Brazil and Mexico will be critical.”
Retaining global prestige
CNN Money writes 6 that the UK is the world’s fifth largest economy, with its Gross Domestic Product measuring US$3tn as of 2016. After diving in the wake of the 2009 global economic crisis, according to the Guardian 7, UK living standards have now recovered. In this context, it is unsurprising that even when polled in the first quarter of 2016, with the possibility of Brexit looming large, many respondents across the world said that the UK is a good place to live, work and invest. This suggests that the UK’s global reputation is strong enough to bear the fallout of its decision to leave the EU.