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The Ghost of Brexit Past

Now that British Prime Minister Theresa May has finalized an exit agreement with the European Union, a reversal of her country's withdrawal from the bloc has become highly improbable. Like all revolutions dating back at least to the Protestant Reformation, Brexit has now acquired its own momentum.

PRINCETON – The European Union has gained member-state approval for an agreement setting the terms of the United Kingdom’s exit from the bloc. But it is still unclear whether a majority of British parliamentarians will approve the deal, given that it appears to leave decision-making power over British affairs in European hands.

One can reasonably assume that the agreement will be rejected by hardline Brexiteers, who see it as even less satisfactory than the status quo. And there are of course plenty of Remainers who oppose Brexit in any form. Yet, for all of its flaws, the Brexit that Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated with the EU is likely to happen.

A reversal of the exit process is now highly improbable. Brexit constitutes a revolution, and that means it is bound to follow a familiar historical pattern. As many French learned after 1789, and many Russians after 1917, revolutions can be neither ignored nor stopped.

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