Brexit hasn’t caused the sky to fall in (yet). In the run-up to the referendum vote in June 2016, the British government issued dire predictions of the short-term consequences of voting to leave the European Union. Ultimately, however, the UK economy proved surprisingly resilient. Analysts, of course, point out that Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet (and, even then, Britain is beginning to feel the pinch from a weaker pound and rising inflation).
Economists weren’t the only ones who made failed predictions, however. Many people also thought Brexit might herald the break-up of the European Union. The Netherlands could be next with ‘Nexit’, then France could vote for ‘Frexit’, Denmark could choose ‘Dexit’, and the Swedes could choose… ‘Sexit’?
Soon, however, a sense of normalcy returned. European leaders shrugged their shoulders, and declared that Brexit wasn’t “the end of the world”. Like the British economy in the early months after the Brexit vote, the European Union seems unexpectedly robust. But for how long?
We had a comment sent in on our “Suggest a Debate” page from Dexter, who asked if the EU could survive another Member State leaving after Brexit.
The Brexit negotiations could establish a precedent. If the UK tests the waters (and doesn’t drown or get eaten by sharks) then one or two others may paddle out to join it. Membership of the European Union could become much more fluid, with members leaving and joining without upsetting the greater whole.
Of course, Britain is not a member of the Single Currency. As complicated as Brexit negotiations will be (and they will be complicated enough), things would be unimaginably more difficult for any country wanting to leave the Eurozone. The American economist Barry Eichengreen was writing a decade ago about the difficulties of exiting the euro, and his argument still applies. And if one of the big founding countries, such as France or Germany, decided to leave then surely it would be game over for the EU.
Could the EU survive another member leaving after Brexit? Could Sweden or Denmark follow Britain out the door without leading to the collapse of the EU? Or would the whole house of cards come tumbling down? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!