The European Union has had a bad couple of years. There were the major crises in southern European states, especially in Greece; support for the EU has eroded; and the Dutch voted against an EU treaty with Ukraine last month.
That’s bad enough for the federalists in Brussels, but it may get even worse in the month ahead. In June, British voters will decide whether their country remains in the EU or will cease to be a member state. Although most recent polls show the Remain camp in the lead, they realize they can’t afford to make any unforced errors. Besides, who knows which voters will actually show up? Anti-EU voters may be more passionate than those who wish to remain. If that’s the case, it could be closer on voting day than polls suggest.
This is why Eurosceptics from Britain and other EU countries haven’t given up hope just yet. In fact, Dutch populist Geert Wilders is already promising a similar exit referendum in the Netherlands:
Mr Wilders says that if Brexit happens, he will “immediately” propose a referendum on Dutch exit from the EU.
Sitting in front of a portrait of Winston Churchill, Britain’s wartime leader, in his office, he told the FT: “When after Brexit it turns out that the lights don’t go out and war doesn’t come, that could be an enormous stimulus not just for the Netherlands but for several countries to think of leaving.”
Like many other sceptics of the grand European project, Wilders looks at Switzerland as an example to be followed. Switzerland is a strong and prosperous European nation, but has always refused to become part of the EU. Unlike what Europhiles would like Brits to believe, that hasn’t hurt the Swiss in the least. In fact, it has enabled them to do business with whomever they want and on their terms, which is something EU member states can only dream of.
Perhaps this dream can finally become reality in the months and years ahead. In order for that to happen, though, the British people will have to take back their independence on June 23rd by voting to leave the EU. If they do, Wilders and other European populists may very well force through referendums in their own countries, which could result in the end of the European superstate. The thought alone fills my heart with joy.