hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Brexit: I Told You So!

Dear All,

Below is a segment from a paper I wrote for the French think tank Fondation de la Recherche Strategique in Paris in February....I told you so!

"It is the morning of 24th June, 2016. Britain and the rest of Europe, indeed the rest of the world, are coming to terms with the shock result of the Brexit referendum the night before. By a majority of 52% to 48% the British people voted to quit the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron goes before the TV cameras to announce that he has accepted the settled will of the British people. He takes full responsibility for the result and announces that Britain will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of European Union and begin the two-year ‘deaccession’ of the United Kingdom from the European treaties and institutions. He also announces his resignation forthwith as prime minister...

The rest of a shocked EU is faced with a quandary. Conscious that on this grey June morning the EU’s erstwhile second power might have set a dangerous precedent for withdrawal an emergency EU summit is called. Reactions across Europe range from pleading with the British people to think again, to outright condemnation of the British as ‘traitors’ to the very idea of a Europe Britain helped forge in blood. Quietly, some hard-line Euro-federalists express satisfaction that political integration can now proceed without the applied brake that London has come to represent for decades.

Berlin and Paris are under no illusions about the strategic and political implications of Britain’s split, especially so as President Putin continues to exert pressure on Europe’s eastern flank, and migrants continue to pour in from Europe’s southern flank. Privately, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande admit they should have tried harder to bring Britain into the Franco-German directoire. Across the Atlantic a lame duck President Obama joins presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to express regret having pushed hard for Britain to remain within the EU. After all, Washington have long seen the British as a strategic convenience and a tool to influence the EU. However, Obama also expresses confidence that now the issue has been ‘settled’ the transatlantic relationship in all of its myriad economic, social, political, and, of course, military forms can move forward. Donald Trump, just anointed Republican presidential nominee, says he really does not care, and that he will be happy to work with Britain as president. Mischievously, President Putin congratulates the British people for having chosen the path of ‘sovereignty’. In fact, for all the concerned leaders Brexit is a leap into the political dark for no-one knows what the strategic implications of Britain’s historic decision to quit EU will be".

Not that I am gloating...the situation is far too serious for that. Well, just a little bit.

Julian Lindley-French

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