Much like the rise of Donald Trump and, to some degree, Bernie Sanders represents an uprising of the American people against political elites, the apparent up swell of support by the British people for Brexit is a revolt against the same kinds of elites in the UK. As writer Peter Hitchens notes, “Labour doesn’t love the poor. It loves the London elite. The Tories don’t love the country. They love only money.” Thus, the two principal political parties in Great Britain find themselves at odds with their own people on the question of whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union.

The idea of a United Europe is not a new one. But previously the goal was pursued by a single nation through means of military conquest, as with Napoleon in the early 19th Century and Hitler in the mid-20th Century. The European Union was the first attempt to create what amounts to a super state voluntarily. 

The British people have decided that the arrangement is not working out for them. Complaints about how unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels have been running roughshod over the needs and desires of Great Britain have been going on for decades. The surge in support for Brexit suggests that the British have had quite enough of being a province in someone else’s empire and would like some independence if you please. Americans, who remember the fight for independence from the British Empire, cannot but appreciate the irony.

The idea that a state could be cobbled together out of a collection of countries with such different histories, cultures, and languages was likely doomed to failure to begin with. But with the death spiral of socialist economies in placed like Greece and the strains being caused by an influx of millions of unassimilable Muslim migrants has made the project unsustainable.

Brexit and perhaps the unraveling of the EU will not result in the collapse of western civilization as some hysterics claim. But it will serve as a wake-up call for European political elites that the people will be ignored at their peril. #Foreign Affairs