Brexit represents a failure of the UK’s political elite. It also represents a failure of the EU. The UK was always an awkward member of the EU. Nevertheless, rupture was not intended or sought by either side. Cameron triggered the referendum on membership in order to call the bluff of UKIP and expected to win. It became an act of self-defenestration.
The EU has responded defensively to the UK’s departure. It has stressed the importance of a ‘rules-based’ union where there are no departures from a ‘level playing field’. The rule book has become an end in itself rather than a means to an end. It has established a new relationship with the UK based as much on deterring others from following the UK as on maximising the mutual benefits from close ties. This blog looks at the outlines of a different kind of EU response. It asks whether the departure of a major member suggests that the EU should engage in some introspection and rethinking of the kind of union it wants.