"The costs inflicted upon the British economy and the British brand are beyond all predictions"by Christine Ockrent / July 12, 2016 / Leave a comment
At first the temptation was to say: good riddance. After 43 years of hassling, bickering and constant bargaining, the British will no longer try and twist the European process to get a better deal at the expense of other EU members.
After the shock, the grief—we, on the continent, would not be family anymore?—there was also irritation. With insular arrogance, whether they lamented or rejoiced over the referendum result, most British commentators immediately predicted the disintegration of the European Union. Really? Isn’t it the UK which is about to disintegrate if Scotland and Northern Ireland have it their way? Isn’t it the UK’s admirable system of government, a model of stability for hundreds of years that contrasts with the French mania of always changing our Constitution, which is now in total disarray? After all, Britain’s two main political parties are divided and a majority of MPs think Brexit would be a mistake.
The European Union should fast-track Britain’s exit wherever possible. It should not have to accommodate their timing and conditions. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, immediately appointed a seasoned Belgian diplomat to run a Brexit task force. Francois Hollande declared that there had to be a strong, decisive and common reaction to Brexit.
Revenge? Not exactly: politics. In France, domestic issues so dominate the agenda that Brexit has become an ingredient of the domestic political debate. The most unpopular leader in the history of the 5th Republic, Hollande has seen Brexit as a window of opportunity to restore his status over political parties at home—he spent a whole Saturday summoning them to the Elysée for consultations. It has also given him an opportunity to try and revamp the “French-German engine” of historical fame which propelled so much of the EU’s processes in the past. The problem is that France has been so passive during his tenure that its voice does not resonate as much as it should.
Our next presidential election will take place in less than a year. Marine Le Pen, glowing from Brexit and praying for Frexit, has immediately called for a referendum on France’s EU membership. The major difference between the UK and France is that the French government has no intention of shooting itself in the foot, even in order to…