And now the Union is faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, it will not want to make Brexit too painless for Britain, in case other countries, such as Sweden, follow suit; but on the other, it will not want to disturb trade relationships with one of Europe’s largest economies. Britain’s trade with Europe is largely in Europe’s favor, but it’s easier for Britain to find alternative sources of imports than for Europe to find alternative export markets.
There is now a race between the breakup of the European Union and the United Kingdom itself—for the Scottish leader has threatened another referendum on independence. This breakup would be even more difficult, especially for Scotland; Germany has already said that it would welcome Scotland into the Union, but if Scotland thinks that it would then be able to escape George Osborne’s policy of so-called austerity—which is to say, his feeble attempts to balance the budget—it might get a nasty shock when dealing with German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. And, if Scotland were to sign up to the Schengen Agreement, a ridiculous but real and damaging land border between England and Scotland would suddenly become a reality. This is something not seen for hundreds of years.
The vote might also lead to a unification of Ireland, for the Northern Irish also voted to remain in Europe. Sinn Fein has already called for a referendum on unification. Such unification would be a great blessing for England, but not necessarily for Ireland.