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UK election ballot box vote Simon Chapman/ZumaPress

The Battle for Britain

The elephant in the room in the UK's general election this week is whether the outcome will move the country closer to quitting the EU. If Prime Minister David Cameron is re-elected and holds his promised referendum on the issue in 2017, the British will be forced to confront their true options.

BRUSSELS – The outcome of the United Kingdom’s general election this week will set the direction the country will take in its long-term relations with the European Union. And yet, with the unfortunate exception of the UK Independence Party, the question went mostly unaddressed during the campaign. But voters know that it could soon move to the center of British politics, regardless of whether the Conservatives are returned to power or are replaced by Labour.

Britain is not quite certain about its role in Europe. It had hoped that a larger EU would be less integrated. But the EU’s enlargement in 2004 failed to stop the momentum toward “ever-closer union.” Of the ten countries that joined then, seven are now in the eurozone.

Whatever problems the UK faces now pale in comparison to those that would emerge if it were to withdraw from the EU. Indeed, the British people would likely realize only after the fact that the problems they attributed to the EU actually originate at home.

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  1. campanella17_Ryan AshcroftSOPA ImagesLightRocket via Getty Images_englihs Ryan Ashcroft/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

    Back to Little England?

    Edoardo Campanella

    The United Kingdom's bid to withdraw from the European Union is typically characterized as a dramatic manifestation of British nationalism. In fact, it has almost nothing to do with Britain, and everything to do with English national identity, which has been wandering in the wilderness ever since the fall of Pax Britannica.

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