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The United Kingdom's "Brexit" referendum, in which just over half of those who voted chose to leave the European Union, proved that he was not exactly right. We must also fear the people, like Britain's populist leaders, who prey on public fears to bring about truly terrifying outcomes. In this case, the outcome may well lead to the EU's disintegration.Reason, weakly defended by uninspired and untrusted establishment voices, could not stand up to fears of what might come through a door left open to the rest of Europe – and, indeed, the rest of the world.The true paradox here is that it is precisely when they are saying "Non" to Europe (echoing Charles de Gaulle's famous veto of Britain's first application to participate in European integration) that the British are the closest in emotional terms to the rest of Europe's citizens. People are afraid all across Europe – indeed, all over the world. People like Trump don't seem to worry much about consequences.With Europe's role on the international stage under threat, its leaders must urgently undertake a massive self-assessment, both literally and metaphorically.
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