Brexit and Burst? Britain’s Existential Crisis
BERLIN: Britain’s hard-fought referendum on whether to remain a member of the European Union is emblematic of a wider shift in Europe’s geopolitics. As much as the British want to believe their islands have a destiny separate from that of the continent, they have in fact been pacesetters for Europe writ large, from the consolidation of parliamentary democracy to the industrial revolution to the market reforms of the 1980s. This year’s “Brexit” debate, although in many ways peculiarly British, has amplified broader trends in European politics – including questioning the fundamentals behind the unity of the continent – that are likely to intensify rather than subside. The future of Europe, the transatlantic alliance and the international liberal order are all in play, and the June 23 referendum has done little to settle them.