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Clive Crook

How Europe Should Move On Without Britain

Instead of punishing the U.K., the EU's leadership should pursue its enlightened self-interest.
Will she pursue revenge or enlightened self-interest?

Will she pursue revenge or enlightened self-interest?

Photographer: Carsten Koall

To say that the U.K. will be tested over the coming months would be an understatement even by British standards. The next prime minister, leading a deeply divided country, must negotiate a complex new relationship with the European Union and arrange trade pacts from scratch with non-EU countries -- while dealing with economic and financial stress, new uncertainty over Scotland's independence, and the sensitive issue of Northern Ireland's border.

That's daunting enough, but there's more. What happens next could be difficult or downright disastrous, depending in large part on Europe's response to Britain's choice. That's disturbing, because the rest of Europe is hardly rooting for Brexit to succeed. But for the sake of argument, let's assume an EU leadership acting not to punish Britain but to pursue its enlightened self-interest. What might it do?