Across The EUniverse – Number Thirteen
The UK is nothing if not pragmatic. The pragmatism has sometime been referred to as perfidiousness: perfidious Albion. What is sure is that the UK will approach the divorce with the EU in a very pragmatic fashion. It will seek to develop bi-lateral relations with its direct trading partners. It will seek to revive the trade preferences in the Commonwealth. It will seek independent influence in all international bodies.
What is less clear is how the UK’s partners will react. There is no doubt that there is a feeling of ‘pique’ in the air, of frustration particularly on the part of the 27 EU members that the UK has decided to leave behind. The frustration arising from the fact that the EU today is built on the compromises over the years needed to keep the UK happy. And those compromises have prevented in the past and will prevent in the future the EU from integrating better.
In the past the UK has vetoed a whole series of moves to integrate the economies of the EU member states so as to preserve the power of the London markets. The UK wanted rapid enlargement towards the East and the Mediterranean even if some candidate countries were not ready. These countries are in the EU now and cannot be excluded. They cannot but be a drag on integration.
Across cannot be too concerned about the possibility of Albion disintegrating. That is the business of the UK (even if a tragedy is brewing in Ireland). Across does not like the prospect of the UK’s half-in, half-out position in the workings of the EU Institutions for the next year or two: they will not be listened to. The editors of Across ask how can the EU regroup and build given the large disparities of income and expectations amounts its citizens. This is the real question of Brexit. Do we have the leadership to take the opportunity of Brexit even if we would not be where we are if the UK had not been part of the club for the last 43 years.