Britain in the Wilderness

No crystal ball is needed to foresee the impact on Britain of withdrawal from the EU. As former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso put it in December, “I have never seen in all my years in the European Council…a big country as isolated as Britain."

LONDON – Europe is once again divided between East and West – only this time the fault line runs through the European Union. The eastern members – most notably Poland and the Baltic states – are clinging fast to the EU in the face of Russian aggression. At the other geographic and political extreme, the United Kingdom is threatening to walk out on Europe for good. Decisions being taken today on Europe's eastern and western peripheries are likely to shape a new balance of power.

It is not difficult to imagine Europe after a British withdrawal: a French-German axis in control, Russia empowered, America bypassing a now-weakened Britain, pro-EU Scotland threatening once again to leave the UK, and England turning inward as Euroskeptics convince themselves that Britain always is strongest when alone.

And, given the effects of UK Euroskepticism so far, no crystal ball is needed to foresee the impact on Britain of withdrawal from the EU. As former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso put it in December, “I have never seen in all my years in the European Council…a big country as isolated as Britain."

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