LONDON – In 2016, the United Kingdom made the momentous decision to leave the European Union, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and many European countries continued to struggle with internal challenges. The EU feels less stable than at any point in my lifetime.
There are common forces that brought us to this dangerous place, and it is more important than ever that the developed democracies come together to address them. Sadly, the opposite is happening. Just when the West needs alignment among the US, the UK, and the EU, national politics are pulling it apart.
Within Europe, there are three major challenges. The first is Brexit, the biggest event in British politics in a generation. Many think that withdrawal from the EU is a mistake; but it is what more than half of those who voted decided, so now we have to implement it. It won’t be easy. Translating the vote into policy will be like defusing a bomb: determining which wires to cut will require great care.
If Prime Minister Theresa May’s government focuses on what really matters in the upcoming negotiations with the EU, we can be guardedly optimistic that it will return with a good deal. Europe has a clear economic interest in keeping the UK close, and it needs the UK’s diplomatic, military, and intelligence capabilities. The UK also has a strong relationship with the US, and will remain an important part of the transatlantic security axis.