Britons' debate on EU mirrors US discontent


Let's take a little quiz. Who said this last Monday?

"We are seeing an alienation of the people from the power they should hold, and I am sure this is contributing to the sense of disengagement, the apathy, the view that politicians are 'all the same.' "

Donald Trump? Bernie Sanders? Good guesses, but it was Boris Johnson, the charismatic mayor of London, explaining why he is backing an effort to remove Great Britain from the European Union.

Many Britons believe their country's membership in the 28-nation alliance has ceded important sovereign British decisions to EU bureaucrats in Brussels. These euroskeptics argue that British voters have no electoral redress.

The issue was brought to the front burner when Prime Minister David Cameron reached a negotiated settlement with EU leaders giving his nation exemptions to some EU rules. Cameron had promised voters he would negotiate exceptions and then let them have their say.

He has called for a June 23 referendum on whether Great Britain should stay in the EU or leave it. The journalistic shorthand for this decision is Brexit (British exit).

A Great Britain exit could undermine the entire EU. It surely will send economic shock waves throughout Europe and the world.

Polls indicate the vote on Brexit is up for grabs. Six of Cameron's own 29 Cabinet members have aligned with those who want to pull out. The level of voter disgruntlement toward the status quo is palpable — and similar to what we're seeing in America's presidential primaries.

Perhaps Americans can watch Great Britain vote first to see if maximum drama is really what the Brits want.

San Jose Mercury News


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