British flag.

Le bilan du Brexit

BRUXELLES – La proposition faite par le Premier ministre David Cameron aux citoyens britanniques d'organiser un référendum sur l'opportunité de quitter l'Union européenne aurait certainement semblé un pari assez peu risqué il y a quelques années de cela. Une majorité de citoyens aurait sûrement choisi de rester. C'était avant que la crise grecque ne sème la zizanie au sein de la zone euro et avant l'arrivée de centaines de milliers de réfugiés qui ont forcé l'UE (mais pas le Royaume-Uni) à perdre le contrôle de certaines de ses frontières.

Cameron pourrait effectivement obtenir que d'autres dirigeants européens acceptent ses demandes de réforme, sans quoi il a déclaré qu'il ne ferait pas campagne pour maintenir son pays dans l'UE. Elles ne sont pas extrêmes : une garantie que les membres hors zone euro obtiennent un accès complet au marché unique, moins de tracasseries administratives au niveau de l'UE, une exemption britannique à « une union toujours plus étroite. » Sa dernière demande (moins d'avantages sociaux pour les migrants de l'UE), sera la plus difficile à accepter pour les dirigeants européens.

En dépit de cette campagne de réforme, quelques Britanniques eurosceptiques ont reproché à Cameron sa trop grande mollesse. La tentation se renforce en Grande-Bretagne d'abandonner ce qui ressemble à un navire en perdition et de poursuivre son propre chemin. C'est compréhensible. La question est de savoir si un « Brexit » serait aussi glorieux que ses partisans aiment à le croire.

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