Brexit It's smarter to stay

The choice is between a moment of pride and a new future built together: If Britain is clever, it will remain a member of the EU, because it will recognise that the future of the west is at stake. An editorial by Klaus Brinkbäumer and Florian Harms


Die deutsche Version dieses Artikels lesen Sie hier.

It's rare to see historic moments coming, because it's impossible to know how history will change and what course it will run. But sometimes you do see it. Sometimes you know something is about to happen that has the potential to change our world.

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If Britain is clever, it will remain a member of the EU, because it will recognise that the future of the west is at stake.

This vote is about preserving Europe's competitiveness in times of change and struggle between world powers. It's about nothing less than the future of the peace project started in 1946 by erstwhile enemy nations on a devastated continent, ("Let Europe arise!" as Churchill put it). It is a project that has unified western Europe for seven decades.

The words are becoming increasingly heated. EU opponents are comparing Brussels to Hitler and producing dangerously false statistics, while the dominant tone among EU supporters is pathos. For once, the latter is justified, because fundamental principles are at stake.

Britain is a bridge between Europe and the US. If Britain leaves the EU on this side of the Atlantic while Donald Trump becomes president on the other, then seemingly permanent alliances will wobble, and a weakened Europe would end up alone, helpless amid myriad global crises.

If the right-wing populists grow stronger, because Europe suddenly weakens and shrinks just as they are on the rise, what will remain of the ideal of tolerant and progressive cooperation that defines the west?

So if Britain is clever, it will realise that it is not a world power on its own, that it will lose much with a yes to Brexit on June 23, and gain nothing but a brief moment of pride.

If it votes to leave because a disproportionately high number of older and less well-educated British want it so passionately, Germany and the rest of Europe will have to accept that today's EU is dysfunctional and unattractive. The EU should then mourn the loss of departed Britain and learn from it, and it should cease giving humiliating gifts to those who have left and develop some resolution.

Or else, hopefully, it will be the other way round: Should the British vote against Brexit, perhaps by 55% or 60% rather than 50.1%, then that would be a mandate. Then the British should stop doing the things that have irritated the rest of Europe for years: special requests, self-pity and wretched haggling over every last detail.

The day after the vote, the British should understand that they themselves helped create this detested Europe that they were so close to leaving, and start building a better one.

A translation error in the print version has been corrected in this editorial to read that a "disproportionately high number of older and less well-educated British want (Brexit) so passionately" and not "the mainly older and less well-educated British want it so passionately."

The authors

Klaus Brinkbäumer is executive editor of DER SPIEGEL, Florian Harms is executive editor of SPIEGEL ONLINE.

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sojetztja 11.06.2016
Was soll diese Speichelleckerei? Die Briten (Engländer) fallen seit Jahren durch politische Anmaßung und kulturelle Arroganz, die in keinem Verhältnis zu ihrer wirklichen Bedeutung stehen, auf. Und das befeuert ihr jetzt auch noch durch "Bitte, bitte, verlasst uns nicht, sonst müssen wir alle steeeeeerben" ????
caspa7 11.06.2016
2. Like Mike Strutter once said:
"If you got problem with that, go suck on your mom's t*ts!
großwolke 11.06.2016
This article is a new low in journalistic reasoning. What you are saying is basically: "Please don't leave, Britain, because it would be bad for us, and the dysfunctionality of the EU would become painfully obvious." While this may be true, I would not find it very convincing if I were a Brit. 11.06.2016
4. Dear fellow British,
don't let your minds be clouded by foolish german (or european) threats and appeals. We germans envy your government as they have the guts to let their people choose between staying in the EU or leaving it and start over as a real souvereign country. I wish you all the best, no matter what choice you will make. Just ignore the pathetic attempts of our politicians and so-called journalists to sabotage your democratic opportunity!
DJ Doena 11.06.2016
"If it votes to leave [...], Germany and the rest of Europe will have to accept that today's EU is dysfunctional and unattractive." And if they vote to stay, Europe is suddenly not dysfunctional and unattractive anymore? We see it here in Germany all the time: Whenever politicians don't get their way on a national level, they go to Brussels, make some EU law which is then forced upon the nation without any legal recourse. That's what the EU boils down to. So in a way the EU is like the arbitration courts of TTIP and TPP and CETA and other trade agreements: They completely work outside the tripod of a nation's democracy: executive, legislative & judiciary. The Brexit would be the best thing happen to it. Because then it would be forced to take a long hard look at itself for once.
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