The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union. Sort of. At some point. Maybe.
Almost three years since the UK voted to leave the EU, the process remains incomplete. Successive deadline extensions have pushed the date of Brexit back to Oct. 31, 2019. The British Parliament failed time after time to pass any sort of Brexit deal, though its members repeatedly rejected the idea of a no-deal Brexit. And now, in a case of real-life tragicomedy, the country finds itself poised to participate in European Parliament elections.
“No one, least of all British lawmakers, seems to know how Brexit will happen, or even whether it will happen at all,” writes Yasmeen Serhan in the Atlantic.
At least one prominent figure, European Council president Donald Tusk, thinks there’s a decent chance Brexit won’t happen at all. In an interview published yesterday in Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza and shared with other European newspapers, he said, “Today the chance that Brexit will not happen is, in my opinion, 20%-30%.” He noted the possibility of the UK holding a second referendum vote against Brexit, something he has previously called for.
Echoing the argument used by People’s Vote, an organization calling for a second Brexit referendum, he said that “a real debate about the consequences of Brexit wasn’t had during the referendum campaign, but only after the vote…Today, the result would probably look different. Paradoxically, Brexit awoke in Great Britain a pro-European movement.”
Many in the UK have argued that a second referendum would be a divisive process that could further alienate the part of the population that voted to leave the EU in 2016. And it’s not clear that a second referendum would yield a different result than the first one. But Tusk is not the first to call for it. The UK’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, recently said a second vote could be a “healing process” for the country. So did former British prime minister Tony Blair.
“From month to month, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK’s exit from the EU will look completely different than the Brexit that was promoted,” Tusk added. “I see no reason to capitulate.”