Friday, June 24, 2016


The British have voted in favor of the Brexit, using their feet rather than their brains.  This brutal good-bye is acted upon with some form of stoic resignation by the Remain camp, for now...but the markets are reacting emotionally, in disbelief.

The disenchantment with things EU is actually shared by most member states, who loath both the Commission and the EU Parliament. Former philosophical and idealistic motivations died in the trenches, during the negociation of the unloved Maastricht Treaty. That the British chose nevertheless to suffer this mariage de raison should not come as such a big surprise, given the tsunami which is unleashed as a consequence of yesterday's vote. The ugly Brexit divorce carries unforeseeable consequences with it.  Besides the financial and trade unknowns, and declassification of London as a world financial powerhouse, worse might follow:  an accelerated  implosion of the United Kingdom.  Scotland and Wales may well be tempted again to follow suit and take their destiny in their own hands. Copycat referenda are dangerous!

I guess that despite certain inuendos to the contrary, Buckingham Palace must feel very worried indeed. As much as the Queen cares for the Commonwealth, she surely remains committed to the integrity of her realm and to the balance of power so achieved in Europe. One should be aware of the fact that the only serious monarch left in the world is not spared the humiliation of what might be the first in a series of a historic setbacks.

The Brexit camp should not be ignored. Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson are not the lone representatives of the Neys. There are many bona fide exit voters who advanced serious arguments and who, rightly so, resented both the Brussels/ Luxembourg/Strasbourg "merry-go-round" and the EU bureaucracy. Actually, the majority of people on the Continent are equally critical or disdainful of the Orwellian Brussels machine. They just have given up being interested.  I hope that the shockwaves created by this UK referendum will also be a wake-up call for European leaders who are stuck in a virtual algorithm. An EU conclave is in the making, but another murky smoke plume might be expected.  Instead of improving, slimming, deregulating, or becoming transparent, proposals could well be made to arrive at yet another EU layer, which will be sold as "More Europe" instead of "Better Europe".

A formula of "clusters of the willing" would have been the better way out.  Benelux led to the Europe of Six. It worked because the ends and the means were shared.  Today's bloated union of apples and oranges is mostly hijacked by the Franco-German couple from hell, tolerated by some, despised by others, unloved by all.  One can understand that the Brexit camp won under the current, generally rainy weather forecast. This populist wave will be hard to contain and as a result the world as a whole will run for cover. Now the EU should get in high gear to suggest positive alternatives and to manage a changing relationship, rather than overdramatizing it.

In the end, the UK will be missed.  It brought with it some fresher air, some proven financial and trade expertise and international flair. The EU has need for all of the above if it wants to avoid becoming (in Winston Churchill's words on Clement Attlee) "a sheep in sheep's clothing".

The UK finds itself in dire straits (after all, P.M. Cameron was not obliged to let loose the referendum beast), and the EU has lost its enfant terrible and looks small suddenly (Putin will appreciate).  There are only losers in this comedy of errors.


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