Bremain/Brexit II

So, our European colleagues have been giving their opinions on how Brexit should proceed .

To French colleagues Ayrault and Macron, Luxembourg colleague Asselborn, EC President Juncker and local boy Steinmeier, I say: how about you back off a little? You’re not helping. The UK is obviously in the middle of a political crisis. It happens. You’re damn lucky you’ve managed to handle yours (or not); incidentally, congratulations (if you have).

You are inciting from the sidelines. What’s the point of that? The first move must come from the UK, and anyone with an eye on the news may wonder whether that will even happen – the referendum, after all, was only advisory, something which some of you don’t seem to understand. And even if that move by the UK happens, that doesn’t entail that exit negotiations will ultimately succeed. Some very clever people are working on how they can’t, and please don’t assume any of your people are cleverer.

Let’s look at why you might want the UK to stay in the Union, the positive side of UK contributions to European life. The UK is half of Europe’s security (the other half being France). It’s an important mediator to the US, the world’s most important economy and security provider. It has a number of the world’s top universities, provisioners of our future, which the rest of the EU lacks. It has one of the world’s major cities, stuffed full of EU citizens, who love to live there and don’t want to leave. Which is also one of the world’s major financial centres, which the EU does not otherwise have in comparable size. The UK has been part of European migration patterns for at least 2,000 years, since Roman civilisation established itself there (in contrast, Mr. Steinmeier, Herman the German, who raises his sword over your town, chucked the Romans out). Europe’s young people love to go there. Walk down the street for five minutes and you are almost certain to hear German, Spanish, Italian, French spoken, and often Portuguese or Dutch, and East European languages I don’t recognise. Isn’t that something we should be celebrating? 75 years ago we were trying to bomb each other to bits. Isn’t that fusion something the Union was formed to achieve? And there it is! Berlin’s on its way, but it’s a couple of decades behind.

When somebody shoots up your city centre, or sends his bombers through your airspace, don’t forget the UK can help you. And also don’t forget that the UK has stuff you like to buy, such as chip designs that run the world’s cellphones, and engines that power half the world’s airplanes.

Given all that, if the business of allowing the UK to sort out its politics annoys you and makes you impatient, may I suggest you divert yourselves temporarily with some other task. Such as fixing your currency without destroying Greece. Or are you bored with that after eight years of trying and failing? I get it. You can’t sort Greece, so now you’re trying it out on the UK. How about, instead, a little collegiality, as befits a Union? Political implosions are not fun, but meddling in them is mostly less productive than letting them run their course.

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