Nicholas Barrett and Guntram Wolff discuss Brexit with Kalypso Nicolaïdis, based on her book Exodus, Reckoning, Sacrifice: Three Meanings of Brexit. They discuss the meaning of her book title: Brexit being symbolic for British people and akin to an exodus. The ‘reckoning’ relates to how Brexit represents a reckoning for the EU where they have to deal with questions of identity and sovereignty. Lastly, Britain represents the ultimate ‘sacrifice’ for the EU.
The panel also question whether there was a chance of avoiding Brexit and if there could have been a more generous deal beforehand to limit free movement of labour. They conclude that one way for the EU to move forward is to rethink migration as circular and consider the irony in British macro policy, which rejects collectivist policies from the EU while being one of the most collectivist nation in the EU. Lastly, they discuss the Backstop in Northern Ireland and the Belfast agreement and the need for creative solutions to democratise the backstop and to implement checks in Northern Ireland.
Why does this matter? Nicolaïdis’ book takes a Biblical and mythological approach to understanding the relationship between Britain and continental Europe as well as how British people themselves grapple with Brexit.
Putting this important issue within such a powerful and vivid narrative aid thinking about issues such as the free movement of people across borders and how the EU – a borderless institution – is to create borders with the UK.
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