Ali je tako, kot je Mihail Gorbačov leta 1991, ko je izvedel zgodovinski referendum o prihodnosti nekdanje Sovjetske zveze kot zveze držav in pogorel, država pa je razpadla, tudi David Cameron z nepremišljenim referendumom odprl Pandorino skrinjico v razpad Združenega kraljestva? Zgodovina se spet piše na novo in nikomur se ne sanja, kaj se bo iz tega izcimilo. Štiri nove države v Evropi se zdi še zdaleč najbolj prijazen izid.
Twenty-five years ago, in March 1991, shaken by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of nationalist-separatist movements in the Soviet Baltic and Caucasus republics, Mikhail Gorbachev held a historic referendum. He proposed the creation of a new union treaty to save the USSR. The gambit failed. Although a majority of the Soviet population voted yes, some key republics refused to participate. And so began the dissolution of the USSR, the event that current Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.
Today, in the wake of the referendum on leaving the European Union, British Prime Minster David Cameron seems to have put the United Kingdom on a similar, potentially catastrophic, path. Like the fall of the wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fallout from Brexit could have momentous consequences. The U.K. is of course not the USSR, but there are historic links between Britain and Russia and structural parallels that are worth bearing in mind as the U.K. and the EU work out their divorce, and British leaders figure out what to do next, domestically and internationally.
The U.K is a multi-ethnic state, with degrees of devolved power to its constituent parts, and deep political divides at the elite and popular levels. Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with Gibraltar (a contested territory with Spain), clearly voted to stay in the European Union. The prospect of a new Scottish referendum on independence, questions about the fate of the Irish peace process, and the format for continuing Gibraltar’s relationship with Spain, will all complicate the EU-U.K. divorce proceedings.
At the end of the divorce process, without careful attention from politicians in London, England could find itself the rump successor state to the United Kingdom. If so, another great imperial state will have consigned itself to the “dust heap of history” by tying its future to a referendum.
Vir: Fiona Hill, Brookings