London Tower Bridge Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Les Britanniques à l’épreuve de la raison

PARIS – Si les électeurs britanniques décident, lors du référendum du 23 juin, de quitter l’Union européenne, ce ne sera pas pour des raisons économiques. Peut-être choisiront-ils le Brexit parce qu’ils souhaitent retrouver leur totale souveraineté, parce qu’ils détestent Bruxelles ou parce qu’ils veulent que les migrants rentrent chez eux, mais certainement pas parce qu’ils en attendent de grands avantages économiques.

Le camp pro-Brexit semblait au départ avoir en main deux cartes maîtresses. La première était que les Britanniques, dans leur écrasante majorité, rejettent le transfert budgétaire net de leur pays au reste de l’UE, qui se monte actuellement à 0,4 % du PIB. Depuis que Margaret Thatcher a demandé, en 1979, « qu’on [lui] rende son argent », les coûts budgétaires de l’appartenance à l’UE ont complètement éclipsé, aux yeux de l’opinion, ses avantages économiques.

La seconde carte, c’était l’état déplorable de l’économie en Europe continentale. Qu’il s’agisse de la croissance du PIB, de l’emploi ou de l’innovation, les autres pays de l’UE sont, en moyenne, distancés par le Royaume-Uni (et plus encore par les États-Unis). Si l’appartenance à l’UE était autrefois considérée comme une porte ouverte sur la prospérité, elle fait aujourd’hui figure de frein à la réussite économique.

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