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The British question: Leave the EU?

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The sooner Great Britain leaves the one-size- doesn't -fit-all European Union, the better. And with anti-EU sentiment rising among Brits, Prime Minister David Cameron now promises a referendum on continuing EU membership.

The promise is contingent on Mr. Cameron being re-elected in 2015. He wants Britain to remain in the EU — but on more favorable terms he vows to negotiate in the interim. That's what British businesses concerned about the economic effects of leaving the 27-nation trading bloc would like, too.

Yet the EU is a textbook case — and its economically weaker member nations' debt crises are cautionary tales — about the pitfalls of surrendering sovereignty to a bloated supranational bureaucracy fond of onerous regulations. And Britain never has been wholeheartedly on board with the EU anyway, as evidenced by its refusal to adopt the EU's euro currency — a decision that seems wiser than ever in light of those debt crises.

Britain's ambivalence toward the EU is rooted in its enduring, fundamental national character, which drove and sustained its World War II fight to remain free and independent in the face of Hitler's quest to dominate Europe. Thankfully, Britain's status today is a political, rather than military, matter. Yet the essential issue remains the same.

The British people increasingly realize they'd be better off if they — not EU central planners in Brussels — determine their nation's policies, regulations and fate for themselves. Those for whom Britain's EU departure can't come soon enough must prevail.

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