It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
Before the vote, polls suggested that British citizens would opt to remain in the European Union, rather than choose what pundits dubbed “Brexit.” As we all know now, they didn’t make that choice. And as a result, what is now “Great Britain” is doomed. As is the European Union itself.
They’re not doomed in the sense that a foreign power such as Russia will invade and take over major parts of Europe… although that could happen if Donald Trump is elected US President and pulls the US out of the NATO alliance, as he’s threatened to do. Rather, they’re doomed in terms of geopolitical power and influence. And as I’ll describe momentarily, they’re doomed in terms of options that will disappear for holders of British and EU passports.
Downsizing Great Britain
Let’s deal with Britain first. Downsizing has been the theme of the last century. But it has a lot more to go.
British citizens once boasted, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” That was quite literally true, because Britain then occupied territory over the entire globe. By Protected content , one-fifth of the world’s population – more than Protected content people – lived in Great Britain itself or in countries it controlled. The territories originally included Australia, Canada, India, much of Africa, and of course, the 13 American colonies.
Today, apart from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (the “United Kingdom”), the only territories still controlled by Great Britain consist of a handful of islands scattered across the globe but concentrated in the Caribbean.
And Great Britain is very likely to get even smaller in the near future. England and Scotland have been united as a single country since Protected content , but that union has become increasingly precarious. In Protected content , Scottish voters narrowly rejected a proposal to end that union. Had it been approved, Great Britain – the union of England, Scotland, and Wales – would have shrunk by nearly half.
Now that Brexit is a reality, Scotland has already started planning a new referendum on independence. If Scotland separates from England and Wales, Great Britain and the “English Empire” will be that much smaller.
And speaking of downsizing, separatists in Northern Ireland now are speaking of a divorce from Great Britain. Not to mention Gibraltar, once part of Spain, but occupied by Great Britain since Protected content . In the wake of the Brexit vote, Spain’s foreign minister spoke of “the Spanish flag” flying over Gibraltar once again.
It’s a grim time for Great Britain. But what the EU faces is even worse.
Implications for the EU.
I’ve been skeptical about the EU experiment for decades. The idea that German shopkeepers, Romanian peasants, and Italian salami-makers could somehow live in a cooperative federation led by bureaucratic functionaries in Brussels has long struck me as ludicrous.
I’m therefore less than surprised that in the Brexit aftermath, separatist parties in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden, among others, are demanding a vote to leave the EU. In other words, in the next year or two, we could see votes on “Czexit,” “Dexit,” “Frexit,” “Itexit,” “Nexit,” “Swexit,” etc.
Second Passport, Anyone?
These developments have profound implications for anyone using or considering acquiring citizenship and a passport from the UK or any EU member country.
Some months ago, UK citizens had the right to live and work not only in the UK, but in any other EU country – 27 in all. But once the process of separation from the EU is finalized, UK citizens will no longer have that right, and citizens of EU countries won’t have the automatic right to live and work in the UK. Indeed, if the UK imposes significant restrictions on visitors from EU countries, it’s possible the EU would retaliate by requiring UK visitors to the EU to obtain visas in advance.
In other words, thanks to Brexit, the UK passport has become a significantly less valuable travel document. And as the EU disintegrates, passports from both the countries withdrawing and the countries remaining in the EU will become correspondingly less useful. Sure, if you qualify for an EU passport by virtue of your Italian or Irish ancestry, it’s still worth acquiring these documents. On the other hand, the citizenship-by-investment program in Malta, which requires a total expenditure exceeding €1 million, isn’t as attractive as it once was.
With a Dominica passport, you can travel to more than Protected content without acquiring a visa, or by obtaining a visa on arrival. The full list includes the UK, every country in the “Schengen Region” Protected content countries), Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Why might you want a second passport? Well, for starters, the State Department must now revoke your passport if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt. And if you live outside the US, you won’t be able to leave that country; indeed, without a valid passport, you might even be depor