Soft power includes international perception, global media reach, inventions, education, diplomacy, the charity sector, culture, sport and architecture and international events and the like. While measuring a country’s influence in these matters is clearly subjective the Portland Communications Soft power 30 is viewed as the most reliable authority in this sphere.
In 2015 the United Kingdom came first. Given the economic dominance of the USA and its cultural hegemony, via Hollywood, Apple and Hamburgers, this is an extraordinary feat and gives credence to our assertion that the UK enjoys an extraordinary mix of economic, cultural, soft and hard power assets that have almost all been acquired by our own efforts, completely independent of our membership of the EU.
This can be put down to influential factors such as English Contract Law, the most important and most used contract law in international business; English language – the pre-eminent language used around the world; as well as cultural influences from broadcasting, film, music and drama.
Another review of international soft power has been produced by the international magazine Monocle for the last four years and on every occasion the UK has been in the top three, coming first in 2012, second once and third twice. In each occasion Monocle has never cited EU membership as a factor in the UK’s ranking. This should come as no surprise as many of the strengths the UK has – language, culture, media and sport; extensive diplomatic networks; business interests and partnerships, government and NGO development support; schools and higher education; and the influence of English contract law have never relied upon EU membership and would continue and blossom following Brexit. It is also noticeable that countries that are not members of the EU consistently do well, with Japan (4th twice) never out of the top six and Australia, Canada and Switzerland always in the top ten while, unsurprisingly, the USA has always been in the top three.