I am writing this article in a state of exasperation as a result of some of the remarks I have heard recently concerning the possibility of « Brexit » as a result of the referendum in the United Kingdom due to take place on Thursday. I am reacting to comments made by a number of apparently pro-European centrists who have been saying that it might not be such a bad thing if we did get rid of the United Kingdom in this way as it might allow Europe to get off to a fresh start .
1°) I believe that this point of view fails to take proper account of an important factor. Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union they would be sending a very dangerous signal to europhobes across the continent. Public feeling is running so high against what the European Union has become that there is a real danger of the whole edifice being brought down. The populist governements of Central and Eastern Europe may well be excited by the prospect of no longer having to bow to the rules of democracy and European values. Perhaps even in Western Europe this situation could come to pass...
2°) I consider this situation to be terribly unfair for those British citizens who are campaigning for the Remain movement (and how could I not think of the abominable murder of Jo Cox) . The United Kingdom belongs to the European continent both culturally and historically. During WW2, liberty triumphed thanks to them. In our darkest hours (between June 1940 and June 1941), they fought on alone against Nazi barbarism and London served as a rallying point for all the European resistance movements, be they French, Belgian, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Yugoslavian or Greek. It seems to me that to let the British leave the European Union without a second thought because we have had enough of them and would prefer to continue without them would be appalling.
I sincerely hope that the British will vote to remain members of the European Union but that this referendum will encourage European leaders across the continent to ask themselves what needs to be done to encourage more widespread enthusiasm for the idea of European Unity. Europe needs to be closer to her people. And this includes the British people.
Many thanks to Helen who translated this post into English. A contribution to French/British friendship.
==> French version