Fifteen Thoughts on Brexit for the Cosmopolitan Intellectual Elite

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Brexit, Travel, European Union, Social Commentary


1. When I pass through Frankfurt or Amsterdam (and almost inevitably, it is one or the other) from a visit to North America or Asia, I use my British passport to skip the long lines for non-Europeans. Likewise when I vacation around Europe. Embarrassingly, these airport conveniences, provided through EU-wide agreements, are pretty much the only way that I’ve directly experienced life as a British subject. My wife, by contrast—like me a Canadian who is also a British citizen by happenstance rather than by upbringing—is able to live and work in Italy without visa or hassle, pay Italian taxes, and receive Italian health care. To this extent, Britain’s membership in the EU has worked incredibly well for the two of us. It is a source of just ever-so-much convenience. But that is no measure of its justice. To put it more sharply, and less selfishly: by me, 70 years without war between European powers is a victory of the European project. But I don’t have to e.g. post notices about the allergens in the food I’m serving, compete for low-paid service work, or live on a pension reduced by fiat from Brussels. The post-war project of economic integration through law may have been sufficient to underwrite the peace, but that does not make the EU necessary.