We do not need a victory by Donald Trump in the US, or by National Front leader Marine Le Pen in next year’s French presidential election, to know where the nationalism underlying the Brexit vote leads. And yet reversing course will be no easy task for a Europe that rejects further integration.
BERLIN – The decision by the United Kingdom’s voters to “Brexit” the European Union is not an example of the British black humor that I love. It’s not “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “Yes, Prime Minister,” or “Fawlty Towers”; it’s just Boris, Michael, and Nigel and their disastrous political reality show.
Given the UK’s economic, political, and military significance, Brexit will leave a gaping hole in the EU. But it will not destroy Europe. At the moment, the same cannot be said of the UK. Will the country remain united, or will the Scots leave, with Northern Ireland seeking unification with the Republic of Ireland? Has Brexit paved the way for the decline of one of the EU’s most dynamic economies and the end of London’s reign as a global financial center?
The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is a hitherto unprecedented move and will no doubt throw up many unpleasant surprises. Until now, with the exception of Greenland, the EU has experienced only enlargements, which is why no one really knows how Brexit will take place, how long it will take (Greenland’s exit took three years), and what implications it will have for the UK and the EU.