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Brexit – a View from Space

February 16, 2016

EU from Space

This will be a very short post, because I’ve lost patience with the UK referendum on continued membership of the European Union even before the campaigning has formally started.

Those who want the detailed pros and cons of the referendum will not find them here. I will simply confine myself to two predictions based on the biggest of pictures.

First, whatever the arguments, and barring some unforeseen event of great magnitude, the UK will vote to stay in the European Union.

Why? For the same reason the Scots voted against independence last year. However unpalatable the status quo may be to a significant portion of the election, as a nation we have always been risk-averse. It will therefore be almost impossible for the Leave advocates to make a case strong enough to persuade a majority to jump into unknown territory. The debate will not enlighten, it will confuse. And it will frighten, because it is not about the present but about a range of possibilities – about an uncertain future. Simple as that.

The second prediction is that the European Union, whether or not it agrees to the changes David Cameron is seeking, is heading for a major shake-up, if not an existential crisis, and probably within the next five years.

Why? The fundamental weaknesses of the Eurozone, Germany’s economic domination, the growing power of the extreme right in a number of member states, and of course the refugee crisis. Discontent with the Union as constituted is not just a British issue. There are gripes and moans on the continent that will come to a head as each party or pressure group on the extremes of left and right gains influence.

So whether Britain stays or leaves, the fault lines across the EU will continue to build. The house is heading for an earthquake. Either it will be demolished and left in ruins, or it will be rebuilt with stronger foundations.

So, for Britain, there’s a simple choice. Whether to stick around and take part in the rebuild on terms we can influence, or exit now and wait and see if the earthquake brings us down too.

But if the result isn’t already pretty much a foregone conclusion, I will be deeply surprised.

From → Politics, UK

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