The story of a divorce
How Brexit happened
Jan 2nd 2021
The vote in the House of Commons to approve Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community on October 28th 1971 was greeted with widespread jubilation. The “yes” vote was larger than expected, and it passed with a majority of 112. Leading politicians went off to celebrate in different ways—some to parties, while the famously buttoned-up prime minister, Edward Heath (pictured), returned to Downing Street in a mood of elation and played the first prelude and fugue from Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier”.
As Britain completes its departure from the eu half a century later, there is little celebration. Even determined Eurosceptics complain about the terms of the withdrawal treaty, particularly over fishing. Others are regretful if not furious: according to the latest poll, 48% of Britons now think the country should remain in the eu, while 38% think it should leave. There is nervousness, especially among the businesses that trade with Europe, about how the relationship will work. And there is residual puzzlement on both sides. How did it go so wrong?
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