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Brexit and the Balance of Power

Faced with a rising China, a declining but risk-inclined Russia, and the prospect of prolonged turmoil in the Middle East, close transatlantic cooperation will be crucial to maintaining a liberal international order over the long term. By weakening both Europe and Britain, the UK's withdrawal from the EU would threaten such an order.

CAMBRIDGE – Britain joined what became the European Union in 1973. This year, on June 23, it will hold a referendum on whether to leave. Should it?

Current polls show a closely divided electorate. Prime Minister David Cameron claims that the concessions he has won from Britain’s EU partners should lay to rest popular concerns about a loss of sovereignty to Brussels and an influx of foreign workers from Eastern Europe. But Cameron’s Conservative Party and his own cabinet are deeply divided, while London’s populist mayor, Boris Johnson, has joined the supporters of British exit.

The question of the costs and benefits of British membership in the EU divides the British press as well. Many mass-circulation publications support “Brexit,” whereas the financial press supports continued membership. The Economist, for example, points out that some 45% of British exports go to other EU countries, and that the atmosphere for negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal would likely be frosty.

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