The New York Times reports: The rest of the European Union nations are looking at the possibility of a British departure from the bloc with disbelief, trepidation and anguish. But they are also preparing to retaliate.
If Britons do vote in a referendum on Thursday to leave the European Union, they can expect a tough and unforgiving response, with capitals across the Continent intent on deterring other countries from following the British example, European officials and analysts said.
In other words, Britain will be made to suffer for its choice.
With other issues pressing, including Greek debt, the migrant crisis and terrorism, the largest and most powerful European nations will want clarity, and are not likely to tolerate a long period of post-referendum confusion.
“In is in — out is out,” the powerful German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, told Spiegel magazine. “I hope and believe that the British will ultimately decide against Brexit. The withdrawal of Britain would be a heavy loss for Europe.”
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, spoke apocalyptically about a British exit, or “Brexit,” to the German tabloid Bild. He said all members of the European Union would suffer, as would the postwar structure of Europe that had kept the peace.
“Why is it so dangerous?” Mr. Tusk asked. “No one can foresee what the long-term consequences would be. As a historian, I fear that Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the E.U., but also of Western political civilization.” [Continue reading…]