Whither Brexit, and what on earth happens next?
The Great British Break-Off
This week, we’re catching up on the split heard round the world.
People laughed at Tory historian Niall Ferguson for warning that Brexit—Britain’s proposed exit from Europe—would be like his own divorce: a nasty and desolating affair that left him alone with his problems.
And yet! A week since it’s happened—52% out, 48% in—what we’re watched does resemble the bitterest of family fractures. The adults are checked out: prime minister David Cameron abruptly resigned, while Jeremy Corbyn, his Labour adversary, is himself embattled. And few of the victorious “Leave” leaders seem prepared to step in and help the process along.
Sparkling London, with its skyscrapers and trillions of dollars of daily business, was a spot of deep “Remain” yellow on the popular map. But it has been indicted by the towns and villages, even Labour strongholds, that no longer recognize themselves in the capital. Scotland and even Northern Ireland—decidedly for remaining—are threatening to go their own way. Everywhere, racial and xenophobic rhetoric—directed at Poles and Pakistanis—is, painfully, on the rise.
Our guests—many of them intelligent, cosmopolitan Brits—had nothing but distaste for the “Leave” campaign led by Nigel Farage, with his Hitlerian posters, and Boris Johnson (he of the misleading megabus). But they’d disagree on the nature of the case for remaining in a European Union: how to sell it, or whether the U.K. should do it at all.
We thought the best thing to do would be to convene our favorite Brits and Anglophiles to discuss just where this came from—and what’s next.
professor of political economy at Brown University author of Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea.
professor of political science of capitalism at Brown University and 2016-2017 fellow at the Radcliffe insitute
journalist and author of If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran
English novelist, art critic, and author of Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush
French translator and affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard
English novelist and author of How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--and What It Really Means