Bloomberg Businessweek

You Must Be This Tall To Be a Global Power

Leavers promise renewed grandeur, but without the EU, Britain will be a smaller player

Its imperial heyday is long over, but the legacy of Britain’s global trading network endures. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the bollards of the Puerto Madero waterfront in Buenos Aires, India’s arterial railway network, and other key pieces of international infrastructure were all designed, engineered, or manufactured by the United Kingdom.

The residual national memory of that era was a powerful motivational tool for those who advocated for the Leave side in 2016’s Brexit referendum. Ditch the collective sovereignty of the European Union, they argued, and you’d reestablish Britain’s special place in the world economy.

But the champions of what’s become a frantic effort to sever the U.K. from the EU have laid bare the paradox at the heart of Brexit. Whatever shape the separation agreement takes, the country that mastered globalization in the 18th and 19th centuries has succumbed to the popular suspicion

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