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Europe has forgotten what it means for a nation to govern itself. Article 50 will remind them

British Prime Minister Theresa May gives her keynote speech during the Conservative Party Spring Forum, at the SSE SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Britain, 17 March 2017
Here we go, here we go, here we go Credit: Geoff Caddick/EPA

So it begins. Article 50 is either going to be the most tedious two years of argy-bargy, mind-numbing detail, procrastination, futile grandstanding, and empty threats ending with something that looks remarkably like the present arrangements... or it isn’t.

What could and should happen is that the UK creates not just a stunning precedent in the modern European era of a country leaving what was supposed to be an everlasting relationship, but an entirely new model of the nation state fit for the 21st century.

Europe has almost forgotten – sometimes with good historical reasons – what pride in nationality might mean, and how democratically responsive governments in touch with their populations might have something valuable to offer the world.

Ironically, the idea of the self-governing state directly answerable to its own people was lost in the terrible shame of the twentieth century’s nationalist...

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