As Britain formally triggers the doleful negotiations to exclude itself from the mainstream of European politics and economics, Prime Minister Theresa May refuses to use the word “divorce” to describe what is happening. My wife, a retired family lawyer and mediator, thinks Ms. May could be correct. After all, the family house the British are exiting still contains much of our history and family silver, as well as our future economic interest. In that sense, divorce is scarcely an option.
Britain has not been as insular an island as some people take it to be. From our reigning royal family (which is German) to our exports (overwhelmingly to Europe), we have both shaped and been shaped by developments in the rest of Western Europe. We are separated by just 20 miles (33 kilometers) of water at the Strait of Dover. These days however, it’s felt like a very wide 20 miles.
So why are we leaving? The cause is a mixture of frustration, delusion, mendacity, and bloody-mindedness. We were fed up with Europe’s inability to tackle some of its biggest challenges – from competitiveness to immigration – without seeking to acquire more central powers.