Brexit: The day after...

Published 27.06.2016 22:36

Now that the British people have decided to leave the EU, it is time to establish an inventory of what will happen. The trouble is that nobody really knows how the exit will take place or who will be in charge to carry it out.

Prime Minister David Cameron is obviously not going to lead his country out of the EU, as he said that such a move would require "fresh leadership." It is one thing to campaign about how great an exit from the EU would be, but it is another totally different thing to take care of it. Next October Cameron will step down and he will certainly be replaced by another leader capable of getting enough votes in the House of Commons for a vote of confidence.

Things could go very wrong at that point. The Conservative Party is deeply divided, and there is huge resentment in parliament over the way the referendum was organized and its results. The next prime minister and his government will have to govern and manage the Brexit with a parliament whose majority is hostile to any Brexit. Nobody knows what to do. The Bagehot column in The Economist this week was eloquent: "[A]t the top of British politics, a vacuum yawns wide. The phones are ringing, but no one is picking up."

On the part of the European Commission, European Parliament and member states, reactions have been immediate and very harsh. European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have asked to "hasten" the U.K.'s departure. All major member state leaders have voiced some regrets on the issue, and all, without exception, would like to see Britain leave as soon as possible.

This sudden repulsion can be explained by the oft used phrase: "Enough is enough." The U.K., since its accession, has been extremely difficult as a partner and has served as deadweight each time the EU tried to implement a new step. It has been so for so many issues that this time the European public is saturated with what has turned in decades into an institutional British blackmailing.

The reaction of EU leaders and opinion makers is not good news. It will not prepare an easy ground for exit negotiations. What is going to be negotiated also remains unknown, because it is the first time ever a full member state has decided to walk away from the EU.

There are analyses talking about the opportunities the Brexit could create for Turkey. I would humbly disagree with any positive scenario for Turkey-EU relations. At no time in history has a turbulent EU had better relations with Turkey. The fall of the Berlin Wall in December 1989 coincided with a visit of a delegation of Turkish private sector representatives to Paris and Brussels. I was working with the Economic Development Foundation (İKV), which organized the trip to lobby for Turkey's membership. When the delegation was welcomed into the office of Simone Weil, an important political figure in France and speaker of European Parliament, she looked at them and said plainly: "We have no time for Turkey now, Europe is being reunited."

It is always the case when things go bad that Turkey is the first issue to get out of the list of things to do in the EU. Somebody someday may notice a similitude between Turkey and the EU. There are so few resemblances that this one can come to the agenda soon: Neither see the EU as a symbol of redemption for having lost World War II. Great Britain did not lose it, and Turkey did not participate in it.

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