Just when we needed a well-deserved break from the circus that is the Trump Administration – what with former National Security adviser Michael Flynn seeking immunity to testify about Ruskie hacking and oxymoronic House Intelligence chair Devin Nunes skulking around the White House bushes like the star of some third rate Tom Clancy thriller and President Trumpet and Ayn Rand-reading House Speaker Paulie PowerPoint trying to keep the No, No Nanettes of the Freedom Caucus in line for another pass (God help us) at repeal and replace – Brexit is back to remind us that it is just a transatlantic mirror of all of the above.
Brexit puts into relief the possible end of the last 200 years of Pax Britannica and Pax Americana, Charles Kupchan of the Council of Foreign Relations told Charlie Rose Wednesday night, as both Britain and President Donald J. Trump shrink from the world stage – and world prestige.
That is the very troubling long game. The short game is that the trigger of Article 50, launching Brexit, is a divorce, and divorce is always messy, no matter what anyone says. Somebody’s always leaving (that would be the Brits in this case) and someone else is always left – rejected and hurt (that would be the European Union).
On Wednesday, Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, did his best stiff-upper-lip Brit impression to assure Judy Woodruff and “PBS NewsHour” viewers that this was a limoncello-out-of-lemons situation – you know much in the same way Paulie PowerPoint spun the repeal and replace debacle or in the way that cancer is a challenging opportunity. But Darroch isn’t kidding anyone. Britain isn’t going to get favorable terms from the E.U. anymore that a wife is going to let the two-timing hubby and his little chippie stay in the house while they wait for their new Florida condo to be finished. Britain holds virtually no cards. The leaver never does. That’s why employment experts always say you should have a new job lined up before your leave your current job.
So the Brits are going to take a hit economically and politically. They will not have access to the single market. And they will no longer be the bridge between the U.S. and continental Europe.
The ripple effect will be great, too. Already, the assertive First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, is pushing for another referendum on Scottish independence (free Andy Murray!). British PM Theresa May has said, No can do until Brexit is settled. Guess Terry doesn’t like it when the kitten-heeled pump is on the other foot.
And then there’s Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, which becomes the border with the European Union in the form of the Republic of Ireland. Should the North reunite with the Republic, it would immediately become part of the E.U. whereas Scotland, part of Great Britain, would have to wait its turn. But does the North want to reunite with the Republic, and if it doesn’t, does Brexit threaten the peace accord?
And whither America in all this? Can the Brits strike a trade deal with their powerful problem child to make everyone feel divorce is a good thing?
With the Trump circus constantly sending in the clown car, don’t make me laugh.