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Britain’s next great Brexit mistake

38 1 10

NEW YORK - Britain’s government will soon begin pleading for a delay in the country’s exit from the European Union. Without this, Brexit would go ahead on March 29 with no agreement in place to manage the disruption that would follow. The House of Commons has already rejected (twice, and by huge margins) the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May, and this week voted against leaving the EU with no deal — so a delay is undoubtedly necessary. The question is, what sort of delay?

A short pause is seen as most likely. But this is not the right answer. The delay shouldn’t be for a few weeks or months. It should be long and indefinite. In other words, Parliament should steel itself not just to briefly suspend Article 50, Britain’s notice to quit the union, but to revoke it altogether — and to do so while it still can.

I’m offering this advice as somebody who’s sympathetic to the Brexit cause. In my view, the EU is a political project devoid of effective democratic leadership, heedlessly committed to a program of constitutional integration that most of its citizens don’t want.

For years disaffection has been especially pronounced in the United Kingdom. The narrow win by the “leavers” in the referendum of 2016 understates it, because there were many reluctant “remainers” like me, who believed that Brexit would end badly but have no great regard for the EU. If Britain remains a member after all, especially under these circumstances, popular resentment will only increase, and the issue will be anything but resolved. I understand all this. Nonetheless, I’m saying that Article 50 should be revoked.

The essential point is that the Brexit process has finally collapsed — and in the foreseeable future, starting from here, it cannot be rescued. Until further notice, it needs to be scrapped.

Things didn’t have to be this way. A wisely led EU would have come to an accommodation with the U.K., developing a form of associate membership combining a high degree of economic integration with a........

© The Japan Times