Was Brexit Inevitable?

A blog post over at the American Enterprise Institute has some interesting quotes from a couple French interviews with Cambridge historian Robert Tombs on the Brexit situation. Tombs believes, “In 100 years, historians will say that Brexit was inevitable.” He suggests that Britons

are very attached to the political mythos of decisions being made, in the end, by the people — that is the idea that legitimizes the referendum. The Magna Carta of 1215 is the basis: it obliges a king to obey his people. Such a mythos does not exist in countries like Germany, France, or Italy, where crucial decisions are more often made by an elite, whether it’s the Jacobins, Bismarck, or the Risorgimento. Each time, a small group changes the course of national history and the rest of the country is called to follow.

The European Union’s reaction to Brexit

Elsewhere, he states,

In voting by a large majority to Leave, Britons did nothing other than live out a history that has seen them regularly take distance from the continent and even try to keep it divided.

The fact that the UK clearly voted this week in favor of leaving the EU was a shock the world over. The markets, obviously surprised by the vote, were taken over by a panic; journalists and the media are too petrified. But if we observe this episode in the longue duree, Brexit was not astonishing; future historians can well consider this an inevitable event. As she has done multiple times in the past, Great Britain is going to have to renegotiate her relationship with her neighbors and the rest of the world. And since that has happened multiple times in the past, we know this will lead to many internal divisions and many potentially hurtful conflicts.

Check out the full post for more of Tomb’s thoughts on the history of Great Britain and its relation to Brexit.