With a “continental blockade” across the English Channel, commercial agreements between London and Brussels will not be easy to negotiate — which way will the UK look? Toward the US? However, US President Barack Obama sees the Europeans, the British included, the way we Europeans see the Swiss: slightly weary rich friends who do not create any problems for you, but do not bring you any solutions either. What is the point of a UK back in splendid isolation when its preoccupations were Chinese, Asian and Pakistani? What weight will an isolated country of 65 million people carry in the eyes of the Chinese, or even the Indians?
The wager of the British Euroskeptics is based on a double premise: taking advantage of the single market and the euro while remaining outside it; and being a “hub” of a globalized economic space. The first premise assumes the continentals being conciliatory, when they will be acrimonious.
The second confuses London and the UK. Even if London maintains the extraordinary status it has invented for itself, which makes it the capital of the non-US world, it is not enough to ensure a good standard of living in the Midlands (central England), Wales or Scotland.
What can we call a fatal error in history? An irreversible decision based on a mistaken diagnosis with incalculable consequences. Which this would be.
Alain Minc was an adviser to Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy