Astonishing as it was to contemplate the breakup of Europe’s most stable nation-state threatened by last week’s Scottish referendum, we now have an even more extraordinary possibility. In the days since the Scottish voters rejected secession 55 percent to 45 percent, a new threat has suddenly appeared to blight Britain’s political and economic prospects for years ahead. It now looks like Britain may be dissolved by one rogue opinion poll.
While recent opinion polls have swung slightly back toward the “no” camp, there remains a distinct possibility that Thursday’s Scottish referendum will trigger a previously unthinkable breakup of Britain.
Matteo Renzi, the prime minister of Italy who took the revolving presidency of the European Union this week, seems to be the sort of man that Napoleon was referring to when he reputedly said that the key qualification he sought in recruiting a general was good luck.
Britain’s government budget released this week is not a statement of economic policy. It is a program for winning next year’s general election.
Is it conceivable that Britain will leave the European Union? A few years ago this question would hardly have been worth asking. In the past 12 months, however, the issue of EU withdrawal has shot into the British political headlines.
Editor’s note: After this column was published, Cameron announced he would be delaying his speech in Amsterdam due to the hostage crisis in Algeria.