Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016 stunned many observers and was part of an international populist wave that included President Trump’s election later that year. Britain’s “Remainers” were never reconciled to the popular vote and worked for years to prevent Brexit from actually taking place. Now, after years of negotiation and posturing, Britain and the EU have finalized a Brexit agreement. This is good news, I think, for all who believe in democracy.
You know that Brexit will prove to benefit the U.K. Why? Because CNN headlines: “Brexit is finally done. It will leave the UK poorer.”
In recent months, semi-serious discussion of the potential breakup of the United States has begun. I wrote about my radio interview with Frank Buckley, author of American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup, here. One of Buckley’s themes is that if America’s red and blue states decide to go their separate ways, the result will not be a civil war as in 1861. Rather, disunion would be accomplished through long, painful negotiations, like Brexit. Disunion in the foreseeable future still appears to be a relatively remote possibility, but it is worth studying Brexit as a possible model for an alternative future, if it becomes clear that progressives and the rest of Americans no longer want to share the same country.