It is by no means a foregoneconclusion that the Britishpopulation will vote to leavethe EU.
consisting o eurozone countries, “pre-ins” such as Poland,and “opt-outs” such as the U.K.
Moreover, they must makethe case or Britain to be part o an EU that is evolving ina way with which they eel uncomortable. In particular,through the scal compact and other measures that havebeen taken in response to the euro crisis, the eurozone, ledby an increasingly powerul Germany, has institutionalizedausterity. Most on the le view macroeconomic ques-tions in more Keynesian terms: they think simultaneousausterity at a time o recession is likely to increase ratherthan reduce government debt.However, with the debate about a possible British utureoutside the EU just beginning, it is by no means a oregoneconclusion that the British population will vote to leave theEU. In act, i the only precedent — the reerendum held onBritish membership o the European Economic Commu-nity (EEC) in 1975 — is anything to go by, there are goodreasons to think that the British may ultimately vote inavor o the status quo. Polling ahead o the reerendumin 1975 showed most British voters wanted to leave theso-called Common Market, but in the end, two-thirds o them voted to remain in it. Peter Kellner, the president o the polling organization YouGov, predicts that although thecampaign is likely to be “scrappy and negative,” somethingsimilar might happen again.
Tis brie will argue that the U.K. should remain in theEU. But it is dicult to see how Britain can remain “at theheart o Europe,” as some, such as U.S. Assistant Secretary o State or Europe Philip Gordon, have urged it to.
Rather,given that the U.K. is unlikely to join the single currency inthe oreseeable uture, pro-Europeans will need to make amore dicult case: that the U.K. can retain inuence romthe margins o Europe. In particular, they will have to show why, even as the EU evolves in problematic ways rom aBritish perspective — and perhaps even because o this— it is in Britain’s national interest to remain within it. In
5 On the emergence of a three-tier Europe, see Charles Grant, “A three-tier puts single
market at risk,”
, October 25, 2012,
6 See Peter Kellner, “Who might win a British referendum on Europe?” European Councilon Foreign Relations, October 5, 2012,
7 See Jim Pickard, George Parker, and Richard McGregor, “Stay at heart of Europe,
U.S. tells Britain,”
, January 10, 2013, http://www.ft.com/cms/
. See also theletter by business leaders including Sir Richard Branson to the
, January8, 2013,
order to do so, pro-Europeans in the U.K. will need helprom sympathetic continental Europeans in trying toimagine a meaningul role or Britain in a rapidly changingEU.
From the “Happy Situation” to Halfway In
Britain’s notorious semi-detached approach to Europe andits ambivalence about European integration are older thanthe EU. Tey go back to its traditional geopolitical role inEurope as ofshore balancer. As a sea power, Britain soughtto remain aloo rom the European continent while main-taining a balance o power on it. In particular, it soughtto stay out o continental European conicts in order topursue trade, and later an empire, beyond Europe. TusBritain was, as Henry Kissinger put it, “the one Europeancountry whose
did not require it to expand inEurope.”
However, Britain was nevertheless periodically orced to intervene in Europe order to prevent the emer-gence o a dominant continental power that could threatenits own security.Each time the balance o power had been restored andBritain was secure, it tended to revert to “splendid isola-tion” in relation to Europe in order to concentrate onceagain on its global empire. As the U.S. strategist NicholasSpykman put it, its ocus was the problems o the Congorather than problems on the Vistula.
Te danger, however,was that when London thought it was in a commandingposition in relation to its continental counterparts andocused on the world, it oen took its eye of the Europeanball.
As equilibrium in Europe eventually gave way to the
8 Henry Kissinger,
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), p. 70.9 Nicholas Spykman,
America’s Strategy in World Politics
(New York: Harcourt Brace,
1942), p 105. I am grateful to James Rogers for this reference.10 See James Rogers, “British geostrategy for a New European Age,”
(Vol.156, No. 2, April 2011), pp. 52-58.