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For Europe, losing Britain is bad. Keeping Hungary and Poland could be worse | Timothy Garton Ash

The populists of Budapest and Warsaw are blackmailing the EU over the rule of law. They cannot be allowed to succeed

“Brexit means Brexit” – the mantra of the former British prime minister Theresa May – deserves a place in philosophy textbooks as the most meaningless sentence ever to contain the word “means”. But let’s not fool ourselves that when we finally discover if there is to be a minimal UK-EU trade deal, or no deal, we will then know what Brexit means. It will be five years at least, and probably 10, before we see a clear outline of the new relationship between the offshore islands and the continent. By then the EU may be a very different community, and the UK may not exist.

In a further referendum that is likely to happen in the next few years, the Scots will decide whether they want to leave the 300-year-old union with England and rejoin the European one. If they vote for independence, despite the attendant economic difficulties, then the UK will effectively cease to be. Any British politician who wants the Scots to stick with the English must soon present a different, federal model of the British union as the alternative to independence. So the choice will be the end of the UK or a new Federal Kingdom of Britain. (Federal United Kingdom produces an unfortunate acronym.)

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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