Great Britain, the birthplace of realpolitik, a country which has always scorned the EU idealism found on the Continent, has now been backed into a corner — and it has been pushed there by exactly those idealists it has long disdained. The question is a simple one: Do you want to remain part of a united Europe or do you not?
The euro crisis has exposed a kind of creative momentum that is in the process of creating something new. A new Europe. It is an entity which Chancellor Angela Merkel calls a “fiscal union.” But in reality, Europe is on the path toward becoming a federal country. Germany and France would lead, as became clear on Thursday night in Brussels. But leaders must also ensure that all are included. Arrogant posturing aimed at appeasing the electorate back home is damaging.
That is true of relations between large and small EU member states. But it is also true of relations with Great Britain. The preferred outcome is clear — of course Great Britain should become part of an integrated euro-Europe. Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy should clearly say so.Europe, though, can work fine without the British. But what kind of future does Great Britain have without the Continent and without the euro? Will it, in the future, focus exclusively on its alliance with the United States? Will the Commonwealth become a greater priority? What is this small country’s role in a world made up great powers such as China, Russia, Europe and the US?
These are the questions that Britain must now answer. And it doesn’t have much time. If the Brits wait too long, history will simply move on.
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