Wolfgang Münchau, who is an Associate Editor of the influential Financial Times and a well known author/commentator and expert on the Eurozone, weighs in through an article in the Financial Times that begins by saying that: “The UK’s vote to leave the EU will not only break the ties between the UK and the bloc, and probably between Scotland and England — it has the potential to destroy the eurozone. This is not the issue at the forefront of people’s minds right now. But it is potentially the biggest impact of all. I am convinced Brexit’s consequences will be neutral to moderately negative for the UK, but devastating for the EU …[but] … The main problem is not other countries wanting to hold EU referendums. The problem is more acute.“
For this “more acute” problem, which he thinks may destroy at least the Eurozone if not the entire EU, he blames the Union’s “appallingly weak leaders” and he appears to consider that all of them fall into that category.
I am with Herr Münchau: I think that Britain, England, anyway, may actually benefit, slightly, from a fairly severe economic shakeup and shakeout. Plus, I think it needs to evolve, again, into a more proper federal state ~ rather like Canada, perhaps even looser in some respects. But I suspect that an EU without Britain is markedly weaker and far less able to reconcile the differences between the German led North and the South, which, while it doesn’t actually include France is likely to be led and protected by France. Those differences are not just in productivity and prosperity.The South is, broadly, less cautious, in foreign policy, than the North, except that it has a different, friendlier, history with the Russians. Right now Europe needs a bit of Northern worry.
But, to leadership:
Britain is, of necessity, about to get some new leadership. Prime Minister Cameron will step down by November, and it looks like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is toast … or his party is. But both are in the ‘good news’ column: Britain needs new, firm Conservative leadership: I have no idea who is likely to take over, presumably one of Cameron’s stronger pro-Brexit ministers like Andrea Leadsome.
It seems to me (and to others) that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg) (pictured above) must bear some of the blame for this fiasco, by reason of some of his public pronouncements that made David Cameron’s case very hard to support, and he needs to go … but what about the other EU leaders? There are a lot of (too many, according to Wolfgang Münchau) weak sisters around that table …
… and most of them are men who are the presidents and prime minister of EU nations and many of them helped the ‘Leave’ campaign by their words of outrage or their lack of support for the kinds of changes that David Cameron sought for Britain.
Now, if the EU wants to, somehow, reverse the Brexit ~ and that might be possible ~ they will have to offer more concessions than Britain sought in the first place … my “layer cake,” in other words. My guess is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is going to need to slap some of her colleagues on the sides of their heads and tell them that Oliver Hardy was right. I expect that she, and a few others, might want to renegotiate the entire EU structure so that Britain can stay and Norway can join … Norway, we might remember, stood aside for, largely reasons of sovereignty and an anti-centralization sentiment, the very reasons that the Brexit “leave” vote won. I’m not entirely sure it’s possible to square the circle of the Treaty of Rome (and subsequent agreements) with what sense that Brits and Norwegians want, but if the EU is going to survive as something useful then it may be necessary and it will require some very firm leadership.
The big question is: does Europe have enough strong leaders to resolve this “fine mess?”