Friday, March 31, 2023

UK’s Path Back To EU: A Journey of Pragmatism and Cooperation

Three years ago the United Kingdom ceased to be part of the European Union. Today the majority of its citizens…

By Editorial , in Latest , at February 5, 2023

Three years ago the United Kingdom ceased to be part of the European Union. Today the majority of its citizens regret this decision, which has impoverished them and has diminished their country’s international influence. For conservative politicians still in favor of Brexit, the blame for the setback lies with the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine.
They continue to treat the European Union as the external enemy to blame for their ills, a reflex action that is difficult to outrun. It is not foreseeable that in the medium term the British will request to be part of the EU again. Possibly it will be a decision of the next generation. But we are witnessing a positive change of mentality among many of its leaders.

Irrational Passion For National Identity

Brexit was the product of an irrational passion for national identity and self-delusion with populist fantasies without any support in reality. No one better than the folkloric Boris Johnson embodied that frivolous and agitated way of understanding politics, which has been part of an epidemic of ‘strong men’ in many countries. Rishi Sunak’s more temperate government represents the end of a highly destructive nationalist cycle. Possibly, the Conservative Party must lose the election to catharsis and retire Boris’s merry supporters, just as Labor has done with the anti-European old guard led by Jeremy Corbyn. Today the polls give them an advantage of more than twenty percentage points.

Sunak is showing some signs that things have changed. Instead of openly challenging international legality, he has adopted a constructive attitude to negotiate with Brussels the necessary improvements to the Northern Ireland Protocol, a key piece of the British withdrawal. This agreement maintains the free movement of goods between Ulster and the rest of the island of Ireland, something essential to maintain the peace agreements, but creates an uncomfortable intra-British economic border.

The sooner the United Kingdom recovers its traditional pragmatism, based on interest calculations and cost-benefit analysis, the more likely it will be to regain influence in Europe and participate once again in its shared prosperity project. The same attitude would be desirable on the continental side, leaving aside any punitive tactics towards the British and with a certain degree of self-criticism towards the technocratic excesses of the community mandarins. On two of the great common challenges that lie ahead, defense and the climate emergency, cooperation between London and Brussels is working. The United Kingdom again seems ready to do what is convenient for it. The long road back home has begun.

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