United Kingdom at the moment of truth
Shocking, depressing, unthinkable, these are terms that define the prolonged implosion of Brexit that develops before our eyes in the United Kingdom. But, perhaps, the adjective that
Shocking, depressing, unthinkable, these are terms that define the prolonged implosion of Brexit that develops before our eyes in the United Kingdom. But, perhaps, the adjective that best defines the process is surreal. Surreal in its literal meaning. The political class in the United Kingdom lives today in another world. Disconnected from reality, consumed in itself and devoid of any outside perspective. Brexit is a black hole and, as in astrophysics, everything around it is deformed . And it can catch us in its vertigo.
Continental Europeans continue with morbid fascination as a country traditionally exemplifies self-control and institutional strength. The debates in the House of Commons and the night votes compete with the most dislocated television series . What will be the next rule, the next founding principle of the rule of law that will be kicked in this madness?
But we cannot afford to be mere spectators. Because we are doing a lot in it. The European Union and the other 27 members have a vital interest; and not only in how he concludes this mess. Because we have to continue in our common enterprise . And while the London disputes monopolize focus and energies, we are increasingly - I count among them - those who see with great concern how the Brexit labyrinth is blinded.
Because, the more extreme the Westminster theater, the more evident it is that this agony can be extended indefinitely, dragging the EU.
We cannot afford it. A new stage for the EU opens . After the Juncker Commission the von der Leyen Commission starts, Donald Tusk is replaced by Charles Michel, Mario Draghi, Christine Lagarde, and a new European Parliament begins its work. It is a vital moment. Europe faces significant social, institutional, and economic challenges, among which the recession and political fragmentation that afflict its most important member stand out. It is time to take stock and gain momentum. To look at reality straight ahead without glazes. Without contemplations. The European project needs vision and commitment . What we want and what we can achieve. The bleeding ulcer of a prolonged Brexit, a slow-motion amputation, compromises our future.
It has been said of Ukraine that it is the geopolitical equivalent of a broken suitcase in the middle of the trip, too large to cover its contents, but too important to abandon. The United Kingdom, in full maelstrom of Brexit, is becoming the broken suitcase of Europe. Because of Brexit, we are stuck at a time when progress is crucial.
It causes great dismay how, in the discussions that have taken place in the United Kingdom in recent weeks, it is assumed that the EU will always and in any case respond favorably to a request from London to extend the deadline of October 31 for the Departure from the United Kingdom.
Many will argue, I have done it for a long time, that the EU should avoid getting involved in this train crash. That external pressure would only serve to drag Europe. That it is better to let the British fight this battle without interference. This is a cautious, prudent approach. That, as I said, I have defended myself. But today we cannot ignore that a Brexit that lengthens indefinitely is a mill wheel around the neck of Europe.
Europe must say loud and clear that it will not grant another extension to the deadline. Before October 31, the United Kingdom must have reached an exit agreement, withdraw its notification in accordance with Article 50 of the EU Treaty announcing its intention to leave the EU, or leave without an agreement. This positioning has been making its way for some time now. Even within the European Council. Yes, the moment of truth comes, the EU has to stand firm.
It can be seen as crazy by some: wouldn't it be to give Boris Johnson exactly what he wants, a way out without agreement? This exit, would not be a blow to the EU? Wouldn't it be better to extend the deadline, allow elections and wait for a more sensible tenant to arrive at 10 Downing Street? One that can reach an agreement or even call a second referendum?
The temptation to subscribe to these considerations is great. But we have learned from this slow motion fiasco that hopes have not been fulfilled and expectations have been disappointed. Perhaps an extension would give time for new elections. And maybe Jeremy Corbyn would win those elections. Corbyn could fulfill his promise, against his Eurosceptic beliefs, to hold a second referendum . In that referendum, those who support permanence could win, maybe even change the result of 2016. A long concatenation of imponderables.
But, more importantly, in this "best case", Europe would continue to find a deeply divided, undecided Member State about what it wants and how it wants it. About his future And so, the rest of the Europeans are bound to advocate cutting. Let the United Kingdom determine, without the haste and technical warnings of Article 50; Without the vicissitudes it entails.
It is clear that I am not talking about a future without the United Kingdom. Europe needs the United Kingdom; for our security and defense, for our economy, for our common history and culture . We must build a strong and sensible partnership together for the future. And spare no effort for his return. And we will do it. But Europe also needs to address the real challenges it faces. To do this, we must free ourselves from the drifts of Brexit. October 31 is the date. The decision is in our hands. Let's take it
Ana Palacio was Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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