International Divorce

DivorceI understand why Britain chose to divorce itself from the European Union. It was a marriage fraught with irritations, and in order to end the annoyances Britain decided to walk away. It was a tough decision and it could have gone either way, but they walked.

I feel very much like you do when good friends get a divorce. You are not really surprised but you are dismayed and disappointed. You really hoped they would work it out. You like both of them and now you feel as though you have to choose sides. Will you invite both of them to your barbecue or just one?

In the end, you phone them both, tell them how sorry you are, and ask what you can do to help. You might temporarily provide shelter to whichever friend is left homeless, but after that the relationship with your friends is never quite what it once was. You still have the memories of the time you all went on vacation together and all the times you met in the pub after work, but now you all start to drift towards different circles of friends.

Britain has decided that, to retain its sense of self, it needs to isolate itself for a while. As a single person and an introvert, I get that. I enjoy being alone a lot of the time, and now that my native land has decided to pull up the drawbridge and cut itself off from complicated, messy, imperfect relationships, I empathize. I don’t like it, and I worry that they might be a little bit suicidal, but I have to accept their choice. I hope the isolation doesn’t last too long, and I really, really hope that they have a few good friends who will check in on them from time to time.

It’s tempting to point out all the reasons Britain would have been better off if it had stayed, but they aren’t in the mood to hear that right now. For the time being they are enjoying their first taste of independence in decades, so they aren’t about to engage in a debate about how they are going to pay the rent. They’ll probably go on a bit of a bender for a while; after that maybe they’ll talk.

A couple of years from now, after the dust has settled, they will look back on this and wonder if they made the right decision, but by then it will be too late. They will have settled into a new place; it may be less desirable than the big house they used to live in, but they can call it their own. They will have found a new place to go shopping and possibly a new job, so they will be getting by.

You don’t have to worry about them, really, but you can’t help wondering what it would have been like if they had found a way to work out their differences. The children would have been better off, for sure, but it’s bad for children to grow up in a divided house, isn’t it? Anyway, they’ll make the best of it. Kids are resilient. Right?


  1. Perhaps I am like many Americans at this moment. I was unaware of the vote being taken yesterday and when I learned of it late in the afternoon, I thought the UK would vote against such a major change (fooled again). Could I compare what has happened to a scenario in which California seceded from the United States and became a country unto itself? Has the UK basically been holding up the EU financially. Guess I’d want to let it go too were that the case. How are Canada and Australia affected? With the tumble in our stock market, I suspect I have been affected financially. Fascinating day!

    Sent from my iPad


    • It was very emotional event, Mary Beth. Yes, you can compare it to California seceding from the union and also Texas wanting to separate from the US and Quebec wanting to separate from Canada, etc. etc. I understand the urge to want to reestablish a unique identity, but we are all better off when we have good relationships with our neighbours.

      I’m not an expert in international trade but I understand that Canada will have to renegotiate lots of agreements. Most of our European trade was through London but if that financial hub ceases to have European ties, it may be problematic.

      (I’m sorry for the delay in responding to this, but I only just saw it in the spam file!)

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