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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 24th June 2016 > BRITAIN’S EUROPEAN EXPERIMENT

BRITAIN’S EUROPEAN EXPERIMENT

WHATEVER THE RESULT OF BRITAIN’S VOTE ON WHETHER TO LEAVE THE EU, THE COUNTRY WILL LIKELY HEAL QUICKLY

FOUNDING FATHERS

Winston Churchill, left, and French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman, in Strasbourg, France, in 1950. Both men believed only a united Europe could maintain peace on the continent after World War II. That same year, Schuman proposed the first pan-European bloc, which ultimately became the European Union.

RIGHT NOW, people in Britain and around the world are focused on June 23, the day British voters will go to the polls to answer the question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” But it’s June 24 that really matters. That’s when millions of British voters will have to accept that their often passionately held views about the political status of their country have not prevailed. Many will be deeply disappointed with the result.

So will Britain then be a nation embittered and divided? Unlikely. That was the fear in 2014, when Scottish voters had their referendum on whether Scotland should become an independent country. The majority, 55.3 percent, voted no. Two years on, Scotland has suffered no great social schisms or upheavals. There’s no reason to suspect that Britain—which, of course, still includes Scotland—will be any different in the aftermath of the EU referendum. Many economists predict the economy will take a hit if the U.K. votes to leave, as business owners and trading partners wait to see what new rules and laws come into place and uncertainty undermines confidence. If the Remain side prevails, the far right might become more aggressive, and frustrated anti-Europeans will likely continue to do what they can to undermine the EU and Britain’s ties to it. But Britain has been through a lot worse than liv ing with the result of a democratic vote.

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Britain’s European Experiment - Whatever the result of Britain’s vote on whether to leave the EU, the country will likely heal quickly. Essays by Iain Duncan Smith and Sadiq Khan
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