Brexit’s leaders want to smash the system — but they won’t pay the price

Rafael Behr writes: There is no precedent for a country quitting the EU. The crisis would be continental. The Brexit camp has no idea what should happen. There is a plan to walk out and slam the door, but nowhere to go next. Turmoil is part of the appeal for leaders of the leave campaign, although they dare not advertise thrill-seeking among their motives. It makes them sound reckless.

They are reckless. For Boris Johnson, there is a career advantage in hastening the collapse of David Cameron’s premiership. Relations with Britain’s closest trading partners can be collateral damage in that campaign. There is nothing in Johnson’s record to suggest interest in the welfare of anyone who cannot advance his ambition.

Michael Gove’s case is more intriguing. The justice secretary is drawn to disorder as a purgative tonic – a moral enema for constipated bureaucracies. David Laws, the former Liberal Democrat schools minister, in his chronicle of coalition, recounts a private apology Cameron once made for Gove’s impulses: “The thing that you’ve got to remember with Michael is that he is basically a bit of a Maoist. He believes that the world makes progress through a process of creative destruction.” [Continue reading…]

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