Some days the axis of history changes. One such was 23 June 2016, when the UK people voted to leave the European Union.
Within days prime minister David Cameron was forced to resign, having lost the confidence of his party. Boris Johnson was soon installed as leader.
The Scottish electorate had voted to remain in the EU, so there was soon unstoppable momentum for a new referendum on Scottish independence – leading to the eventual end of the UK.
The pound plummeted, interest rates went up. There were two years of financial turmoil as ill-tempered negotiations proceeded with the EU on new arrangements.
Even if Germany had been inclined to give favourable terms, France was not. Tariffs were raised. Trade fell. All parties suffered as a result.
The Irish troubles soon flared up again and eventually the border was closed.
Anti-Brussels and right wing forces across the continent were invigorated, eventually leading to exit votes in France, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. The haunting spectre of fascism stalked the continent. The EU and the euro collapsed.
Taking advantage of European weakness, trouble was fomented on the eastern borders. With support from Putin’s Russia, rebels gradually advanced across Ukraine, preceded by a tide of new refugees.
The hastily-formed German-Austrian-Italian-Iberian federation, like a reformed Holy Roman Empire, set in train rapid rearmament and threatened Russia with consequences…
Meanwhile, an inward looking America under Donald Trump looked the other way. Europe had to sort its own problems.
The pattern of history was being repeated. Humanity had learned nothing. And this time there were nuclear weapons.
It couldn’t happen, could it?
Featured image shows WW2 victory celebrations in Bar, Ukraine
– by Viktor O. Ledenyov via Wikimedia Commons