LONDON – The end of the wretched campaign to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union against the advice of our friends around the world is less than a month away.
The Brexiteers, as they have come to be called, deny all evidence of the economic damage that the UK would do to itself by leaving. Their disregard for reason and facts resembles that of Donald Trump, the reality-TV star and Republican presidential candidate, whose political style seems to have crossed the Atlantic on a cheap ticket.
If voters choose to leave the EU, all bets are off; the UK will be taking a leap in the dark. Fortunately, the bookies are increasingly predicting that voters will decide to remain. But even if sanity prevails, the effects of Brexitosis – a toxic combination of manic ambition (on the part of former London Mayor Boris Johnson, in particular), self-delusion, and mendacity – will linger long after the result is announced.
Prime Minister David Cameron will face the unenviable task of trying to pull his Conservative Party together again. He will need to balance magnanimity with forceful assertion of leadership. One thing that never works is to pay Danegeld to disloyal members of parliament; give them one bun, and they will come back almost immediately for another. What will matter most for Cameron’s future is whether he can convince the losers to accept the voters’ verdict, instead of slinking away to plot another insurrection.