EU splintering: More member states tipped to quit bloc after Brexit

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The bold prediction was made by Professor Christian Lequesne, with the French academic suggesting “nothing” could now prevent other nations from a leaf out of Britain’s book. Prof Lequesne, a professor of political science at Sciences Po Paris as well as a former visiting professor at the European Institute of the London School of Economics, is a frequent critic of Britain’s decision to leave.

However, he acknowledged the fundamental “weakness” of the ties which bind member states to the EU.

Writing for Politico, Prof Lequesne said: “Brexit helps us understand that Britain is more obsessed with identity politics than liberal economy.”

Taking back control and national identity were “what British Brexiteers are really interested in”, he stressed.

Prof Lequesne added: “For the Conservatives who govern the UK, economic performance has now become a minor issue compared to the days of Thatcherite neoliberalism.

“The liberal discourse on ‘Global Britain’ seems to be a big joke.”

Turning his attention to Brussels, he said: “I remember a time not so long ago when I had no difficulty in convincing my students that leaving the EU was impossible because membership creates too high policy interdependence.

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“What a mistake! With Europe now a matter of political passion rather than reason, nothing can stop Europeans from leaving it.”

Recent months have seen spiralling tensions between Warsaw and Brussels, with the latter threatening legal action in response to Poland’s controversial reform of its judicial system.

Referring to arguably the most Eurosceptic member-state, Mr Lequesne said: “Arguments that Poles will stay in the EU because of generous budgetary subsidies appear very weak in light of the Brexit experience.

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“When people are obsessed with national identity and sovereignty, trade and market benefits seem very weak reasons to stay in the EU.

“From this point of view, pragmatism being a structural value of UK politics seems another big myth.

“Who appears more emotional and distant from rationality than a Brexiteer explaining the reasons for the UK’s choice?”

Divisions within Poland were highlighted last month after Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said he vetoed a controversial media bill as he shared some Poles’ worries about freedom of speech and that signing it into law would strain relations with Warsaw’s key ally, the United States.

Unexpectedly rushed through parliament this month, the legislation would have tightened rules around foreign ownership of media, specifically affecting the ability of news channel TVN24, owned by US media company Discovery Inc, to operate.

Mr Duda said: “I believe that generally limiting the possibility of holding shares or stocks in media companies is sensible when it comes to foreign capital I share the opinion that it should be introduced in Poland, but for the future.

“The bill and its amendments concern entities which are already present in the market. There is also the issue of media pluralism, of freedom of speech.

“When taking my decision, I took this element into serious consideration.”

Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has long said that foreign media groups have too much power in the country and distort public debate.

Critics say the government’s moves against foreign media groups are part of an increasingly authoritarian agenda that has put Warsaw at loggerheads with the European Union.

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