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Brexit and the Special Relationship

Author: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
February 15, 2016

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NEW YORK – The decision whether to remain part of the European Union is obviously one for the British people and their elected representatives to make. But more than British and European interests will be affected by the outcome, so it is both legitimate and appropriate for other parties to weigh in.

So let me exercise my right as an outsider with a stake in what happens to express a clear opinion: From my perspective (and that of many other Americans), a decision by the United Kingdom to exit the EU would be undesirable – indeed, highly undesirable.

I am aware of the irony some are sure to note in this, given that the United States’ own independence came about when the American colonies exited Great Britain. But that was then, and this is now, and the UK’s exit from Europe would be greeted with equal parts regret and concern by its closest ally.

There are several reasons for this. One reason why the US values its ties to the UK as much as it does is the UK’s role in Europe. Britain is important not just as a bilateral partner, but because more often than not it can be counted on to argue for and support positions in Brussels consistent with, or at least not far from, those of the US.

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