Can a single public vote undermine a century of cooperation and friendly rivalry? Was the Brexit referendum indicative of a long-running shift in the United Kingdom’s relationship with the Continent, and especially with allies like France? Britain and France were competitors, and even enemies, for almost a millennium before they allied, first to contain Russia in the Crimean War, and then to prevent German dominance of Europe in the two world wars. But now, France is taking the hardest line among European Union members in Brexit talks. French President Emmanuel Macron has called Brexiteers “liars,” while the British press has accused France of trying to inflict maximum pain on British citizens and trap the U.K. in its orbit.
Those in favor of Brexit saw the vote as an opportunity to escape what they perceived to be an increasingly authoritarian, German- and French-dominated bloc – one that they believe is determined to punish the U.K. for the trouble it’s caused