If the European Union wants to make British people angry, it’s doing a stellar job. In October, after revising how they calculate gross domestic product, EU officials determined that Britain was wealthier than they thought. They abruptly handed Britain an unexpected bill for $2.7 billion, including back payment, for the EU budget. Then other EU leaders publicly castigated London for noncompliance with the EU’s liberal immigration policies. And in November, Jean-Claude Juncker—a man who openly spurns democratic norms, saying, for example, in 2011, “I am for secret, dark debates”—was appointed president of the European Commission.
Britain’s simmering resentment of the EU boiled over.
Ever since Britain joined up with Europe in 1973, it has experienced rhetorical fights, political impasses and financial catastrophes. Rather than cohering and melding into Europe, its closeness with the Continent has only caused friction. Yet it has remained steadfastly part of the EU.
But signs are increasing that this relationship is at an impasse. These days, major problems with Europe seem to come every few months, each sparking a reaction more impassioned than the last. And in 2014, the British electorate sent a strong message that it is ready to end the status quo. Continue reading