The EU is more like a league system than a club,
Brexit more like relegation than resigning.
For a brief period in 2001, Leeds United was at the top of English football and flying high in Europe. Six years later, after a collapse which still sets a benchmark for failure in sport, they were playing in League One, football’s third tier. Now, after another thirteen years, they have returned to the Premier League.
As well as a reminder that triumph and disaster are both short-lived, Leeds’ experience can shed a light on the UK’s changing relationship with the EU.
There is no need to study the past if the times we live in are unprecedented. We can face the future with childlike optimism, unfettered by experience. Knowledge need not spoil the party.
The UK’s departure from the EU is a first. No country has ever left the Union before. In the coming months, the UK and the EU will negotiate a trade agreement which reduces their commercial, legal and social alignment. Rather than agree on how to converge from two known starting points, negotiators will try to accommodate future divergence of unknown scope. Another first.
In these unique circumstances…