The view from Europe as Britain decides

The world's gaze is fixed firmly on the UK as Britons took to the polls to decide their fate and possibly that of any entire continent

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 7:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:06 pm
The view from Europe as Britain decides
The view from Europe as Britain decides

From Brussels there were reports of snatched and anxious conversations between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and key EU figures including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

“All eyes are turned on Britain,” said French newspaper Le Figaro yesterday, stressing that the result of the referendum would reverberate far beyond Britain’s borders. Should Britain choose to quit the EU, it could “start a minor revolution in Europe”.

Writing in Corriere della Sera, Aldo Cazzullo said that if Britaiin decided to stay in the EU, it would be in part thanks to Jo Cox. But he added that if Brexit happened, it could also represent an opportunity to relaunch the European project.

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Denmark’s right-wing Berlingske published an English-language editorial imploring Britain to “please stay” in the EU, amid fears Copenhagen could lose a key ally in the corridors Brussels.

Spain’s left-leaning El País also called on Britain to vote Remain. “For all its disadvantages, limitations and shortcomings, the EU is one of the greatest political and economic successes of recent history – as President Obama pointed out in Hanover. So why leave it? Why damage it? … Britons, vote in our name. Please.”

Less well considered, perhaps, Germany’s Der Spiegel, called on Britons to stay in the EU club in the same breath as saying it didn’t think much of us. “It’s not easy to like England at the moment,” it said, before adding: “Please don’t leave us!”

In US, The Washington Post argued that even if the UK voted Remain, the damage had been done; The referendum had caused cracks in the EU damn. “From cobblestone streets of France to Soviet apartment blocks in Slovakia, questions about the EU’s reach and powers have been given new focus.”

Meanwhile, Le Monde, evincing a certain French ensouciance in the face of possible epochal change, provided readers with a guide to the practicalities of a Leave vote. One question read: “Will we still be able to buy Marks & Spencer toffees?” It came with a reassuring answer: “Obviously. However, in the short term, they might be more expensive – it depends on what’s negotiated.”