by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom to leave the european Union Friday, an hour before midnight (23h00 GMT), embarking on the path of an uncertain future is a challenge also for the european project, born on the ruins of the Second world War.
This day, January 31, will mark the climax of an interminable soap opera, which began on 23 June 2016, when the British voted with a narrow majority for a divorce with the european Union.
In practice, however, this breakdown of the geopolitical majeure will be of no consequence in the coming months, the Uk is entering a period of transition during which it will remain subject to the rules and community obligations, and until the end of the year, the time to negotiate the terms of the future relationship with Europeans.
The british Prime minister, Boris Johnson has not given clues on what the future will hold for the country, promising only to restore the confidence of households and businesses. “We will be out of the EU, free to chart our own course as a sovereign nation”, he said.
But 43 months after the referendum, the british nation remains so divided, and the consultation itself has shown that these fractures went beyond the single issue of european membership, affecting both the effects of capitalism, the topic of immigration or the clash between traditions and modernity in the uk.
The voting also has shown a rise of nationalism in English with the inherent risk of a potential breakup of the Uk: while England and Wales voted overwhelmingly for the Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland, rejected this perspective.
The european Union will for its part have to be separate from a member State which had joined the block community in 1973, and accounted for 15% of its economic power, giving the Old Continent, with the City of London, a capital city of international finance.
A COUNTRY TO REINVENT
To mark the event, a new piece of 50 pence has been specially struck, calling for “peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”.
The Brexiters the most fervent wished to ring the bells of the kingdom Friday at 23: 00. But Big Ben, the great bell of the tower of the palace of Westminster renovation, will remain silent. The amounts required to surrender the provisional service could not be met.
For them, the date of 31 January is a celebration of independence day.
“A country quite major goes, and perhaps we should begin to think about the reasons of this departure,” points out Nigel Farage, who was with Boris Johnson is one of the main voices of the camp of the Brexit in a referendum by David Cameron.
In his view, the european project became, under German domination, in a project of empire that the United Kingdom cannot accept.
In the constituency of Dagenham, in east London, which has voted more than 62% for the Brexit, Tommy Smith, a former delivery driver 63-year-old, is ready to go. Friday night, he will drink a glass of whisky to celebrate the divorce.
“It was time, and I hope a England much better,” he says. “Let’s hope that this will reduce immigration and prevent people from coming here to steal our country and leave millionaires. There are far too many migrants.”
Conversely, and in spite of their repeated inability to unite their forces, supporters of maintenance in the EU are delaying their fight on to the generations to come, estimating that the economic impact of Brexit the convince to cancel the divorce and return to the block community.
They don’t see how in a world that is changing leave the EU could strengthen the position of the United Kingdom. London could until now rely on the economic strength of the EU and its 500 million inhabitants; it would now be necessary to confront alone the challenges posed by China or the United States.
“The Brexit is a re-imagination of our country, our politics and our place in the world. This is definitely the time to be the most significant in our history since the Second world War,” points out Anand Menon, director of the circle of studies “The UK in a Changing Europe”.
(with Parniyan Zemaryalai and Elizabeth Howcroft; French version by Henri-Pierre Andre, edited by Sophie Louet)