As Brexit begins, the British face a Europe with far more at stake

Michael Birnbaum and Griff Witte, Washington Post, 28.03.2017

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In the bitter breakup between Britain and the European Union, Britons on Wednesday will finally file the divorce papers. But the 27 spurned partner nations of Europe may have far more at stake. 

French leaders are fearful of their country’s insurgent anti-E.U. forces, who will chalk up any British gain from the divorce settlement as a reason to file exit papers of their own. Italian leaders are combating anti-establishment parties who may gang up to hold a Brexit-style referendum. And surging anti-E.U. campaigners elsewhere are eager to press any advantage they see from the negotiations, which will start after Wednesday’s formal notice from Downing Street. [...]

“If Brexit leads to a bright, prosperous future in the U.K., that is something that could lead to a domino effect,” said Janis Emmanouilidis, the director of studies at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre, an influential think tank that often advises E.U. policymakers.

“It clearly will have to be something which is not better than when they were inside the club. The red lines we have drawn, I think we will clearly stick to them,” he said.

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