Four years after the referendum, we may confidently state that Boris, Nigel and Jacob have been proven right; Brexit has been a glorious success, as it has brought prosperity and good governance to the people.
Not the British people, mind you. For them, Brexit is as acrimonious an affair as it has always been, a tragic decision that will haunt both Whitehall and Blackpool for decades to come. But for the remaining 27 member states, Brexit has finally liberated them from the perennial threat of a British veto in the Council. Since British politics took a Eurosceptic turn in the ‘80s, continental Europeans have again and again seen the promise of an ‘ever-closer union’ frustrated by the Brits. Admittedly, the UK was not the only obstacle to federalism – the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Austria and Germany have all at various times opposed further integration. But with the UK gone and Germany having had a change of heart, the balance of power has changed markedly in European politics.
Take the recent Council agreement on mutual debt. The road to the agreement was ugly and fractious, filled with personal attacks and zero-sum mentality. Yet after five days of negotiation, the Brussels equivalent of habemus papam, consensus, was proclaimed by Council leader Charles Michel on Twitter at five in the morning. A historic agreement had been reached: hundreds of billions of euros of mutual debt would be issued, to finance the post-covid recovery of Europe. A dream come true for Europhiles across the continent. Britain, if still a member of the EU, would almost certainly have popped that dream, leaving Europe poorer and weaker. Good riddance.