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The ultimate Brexit counterfactual

What if it wasn’t Britain leaving but another member state?

By Christopher Grey  

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. If it were another country leaving, would Britain allow cherry-picking? Photo: Monasse Thierry/ANDBZ/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

Imagine a scenario where it was not Britain leaving the European Union but one of the other member states, whilst Britain was remaining. It is worth considering because it helps us to understand how—in the real scenario of Brexit—the EU27 are reacting. In particular, it helps us to understand why that reaction should not be described as punishment.

In the hypothetical case, Britain’s reaction would depend partly upon which country we imagine was leaving. Suppose it was Ireland. Then, Britain would see as its key strategic interest the need to preserve the…

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