Splendid Isolation Again? Options for the U.K. After the Withdrawal Referendum
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"Splendid isolation" is a popular conception of Britain's foreign policy in the late 19th century. It aptly describes Britain 's minimal involvement in continental European affairs in the late Victorian era. Almost forgotten by now, this policy concept might experience some sort of revival: In his long awaited speech on Europe, Prime Minister David Cameron promised the British people to hold a referendum on EU membership should he be re-elected. This referendum will take place in 2017 at the latest and will be a so called "in/out referendum. " In other words, it will determine Britain 's future in Europe. Yet the issue of withdrawal is not confined to the UK, since other states, such as Hungary, are also contemplating leaving the European Union.' What will happen if a majority of the electorate actually votes for withdrawal? Will all links with the continent automatically be severed upon withdrawal? Or is there a possibility for continued cooperation albeit on a less formal level? This paper provides answers to these crucial questions.