Brussels-based American journalist's take on Brexit
My guest today is Gilbert Doctorow, an American journalist based in Brussels.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Gilbert. We last spoke several months ago: Brussels-Based Journalist on Belgian Terror Attacks. I can't help but think that your perspective would be helpful for those of us trying to figure out what happened in the UK regarding the vote to exit the EU. Can you get us started?
Gilbert Doctorow: The vote to leave the EU resulted from a great many different factors, but I would like to highlight two groupings of factors: splits within the ruling elites of the UK and a split between the elites and the UK population at large.
The UK was a late joiner of the EU because of its historical traditions as a "balancer" of forces on the Continent rather than a permanent member of a predominant bloc. Once inside the EU, the British were unenthusiastic about the gradual attempts by federalists on the Continent who sought to turn what was a common market into a political union or United States of Europe. They were foot-draggers. Thus, they were the most significant Member State to refuse to join the common currency.
British disenchantment with the EU grew significantly in the new millennium and particularly after the financial crisis of 2008, which revealed the foundation of sand on which the Euro and the Europe-wide banking system rested. The leadership of the EU institutions at this point was particularly weak and and grey, unable to produce any creative solutions that would allay British doubts about where the Union was headed.
The Tories were torn over the issue of remaining in the EU and some of its leading politicians quit the party to join UKIP [UK Independence Party]. To stem this hemorrhaging, David Cameron made the holding of a referendum on the issue one of his campaign pledges in the last general election. But the party remained split as became very clear when a significant number of his cabinet members spoke out in favor of 'leave' before the referendum.