Sunday, July 31, 2016

I’ve Got The British Blues

Working out of London last week, I started feeling blue. Don’t get me wrong, I love the capital of Great Britain. It’s bustling, bountiful, beautiful … But I wonder how long it will last.

Britain will change as it exits the EU, that’s for certain. As you know, on June 23, the British went to the polls and decided to exit the EU. It may take a few years or a decade, but I fear the country won’t be the same again.

Ever since the Chunnel opened more than 20 years ago, connecting France and the U.K. with underground rails, the two countries became closer culturally, economically, socially. I began to think of Merry Old England as a state, rather than a country. In travel time, going from Paris to London is like going from Philadelphia to New York City. (For those of you and me who can’t keep straight the difference between Britain, England, and the U.K., see this hilarious video by Foil, Arms & Hog.)

While I don’t think the U.K. will cut the cord and close the Chunnel, sooner or later we’ll feel the island nation break with the continent. We’ll hear fewer French accents among the workers in London, see fewer British students at universities in Europe. The financial district, Canary Wharf, will suffer as banks and brokers try to find another city to serve as the capital of Europe.

In the U.S., the Founding Fathers decided that the states were better together than apart, but that didn’t prevent the Civil War. Texas talks about seceding, but that’s Texas Talk. Let’s remember what the founders said: “e pluribus unum,” out of many, one. We have our differences, still, but we have learned (the hard way) to work them out, peacefully, democratically.

There are some benefits of togetherness: economists call it economies of scale. The U.S. is enormous, and in world affairs, size matters. My fear is that once out of the EU, Britain will shrink in stature and size. Twenty years from now, will the U.K. still matter? Will London be anything more than the capital of England?
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Rose Marie Burke, an editor and journalist, writes the blog Paris, Pittsburgh, And More, about her personal insights into life in Paris. After 20 years in the City of Light, she still calls her native Pittsburgh "home." Want to follow this blog? Find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, email me at rose.burke89 "at" yahoo.fr, or Google+.