British Exit “Wakeup Call” for Europe: Dutch

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands speaks with his British counterpart, David Cameron, at Chequers, England, February 21, 2014
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands speaks with his British counterpart, David Cameron, at Chequers, England, February 21, 2014 (Rijksoverheid)

Parties in the Netherlands regret Britain’s decision to leave the European Union but are also motivated to press ahead with their own plans to reform the bloc.

Halbe Zijlstra, the parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party, said on Monday that he understands the British were dissatisfied with the “European express train that keeps thundering on.”

“This sentiment lives in the Netherlands as well,” he said.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, another liberal party member and the defense minister, told the European Parliament the next day the vote in the United Kingdom should come as a “wake-up call to us all.” Read more “British Exit “Wakeup Call” for Europe: Dutch”

British Vote to Leave EU Roils Western World

British prime minister David Cameron and French president François Hollande pay their respects at the First World War memorial in Pozières, March 3
British prime minister David Cameron and French president François Hollande pay their respects at the First World War memorial in Pozières, March 3 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Georgina Coupe)
  • Britain shocked its allies on Thursday, when it voted 52 to 48 percent in a referendum to leave the European Union.
  • The remaining 27 member states want Britain to make haste, but Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will not trigger Britain’s exit at next week’s European Council.
  • Britain’s departure is a diplomatic disaster for France, Europe’s only other nuclear power. Read more “British Vote to Leave EU Roils Western World”

British EU Exit Would Be Diplomatic Disaster for France

British prime minister David Cameron welcomes President François Hollande of France at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, January 31, 2014
British prime minister David Cameron welcomes President François Hollande of France at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, January 31, 2014 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

François Heisbourg reports from Paris that Britain’s decision to leave is a diplomatic disaster for France, Europe’s only other nuclear power.

Whitehall’s energies will be devoted to negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU over the next two years. That will distract its attention from the United Nations where Britain and France often work together as permanent members of the Security Council.

The French will press for the continued implementation of the Lancaster House defense treaty, which binds the two countries in military terms, writes Heisbourg, notably in the crucial area of nuclear warhead stewardship.

There’s a problem there in terms of Scotland’s renewed independence bid. The British nuclear deterrent is based in Faslane, Scotland. The ruling SNP has been opposed to their presence for years. If Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom, a new base would have to be found for the nuclear-armed submarines, which could leave France as the only Western power this side of the Atlantic with a credible nuclear deterrent for several years. It’s not a position the French like to be in. Read more “British EU Exit Would Be Diplomatic Disaster for France”

You’re So Vain: Americans and Britain’s EU Referendum

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama speaks on the phone in the Green Room of the White House in Washington DC, March 18 (White House/Pete Souza)

There’s been a tendency the last few days in the United States to make Britain’s EU referendum about America. Commentators are wondering what this will mean for Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions, given that his nativist platform isn’t too dissimilar from the leave campaign in the United Kingdom. They wonder what it effect it will have on transatlantic relations, given Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States.

Some of this is self-indulgent, some of it makes sense.

Perhaps the best reflections on what Britain’s decision to leave the EU means for the United States come from Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest.

He writes that the island nation’s exit is a blow to the West as a whole. Read more “You’re So Vain: Americans and Britain’s EU Referendum”