Strong stuff from Gideon Rachman:
Will David Cameron go down as the prime minister who turned Great Britain into Little England? If things go wrong for him, he could end up presiding over the departure of Scotland from the UK – swiftly followed by Britain’s own departure from the EU.
Many foreign observers are bemused. The Obama administration has made it clear that it would be appalled if Britain left the EU. The US also worries that Britain’s ability to play a global role is dwindling, as military capacity shrinks. A senior German politician sniffs that Mr Cameron has a knack of “organising his own defeats”. The Japanese, key investors in Britain, are alarmed at the prospect of UK withdrawal from the EU. And a Chinese official warns that the UK is becoming the “third power” in Europe.
He concludes on an upbeat note:
Syria, Scotland and the EU, taken together, suggest that the UK may be quietly abandoning its remaining pretensions to be a great power. But it would be a mistake to conclude, therefore, that Britain is becoming an inward-looking country. Its entrenched internationalism is rooted in economic, cultural and social forces that are ultimately more powerful than the political questions thrown up in Brussels, Edinburgh or the Middle East. Whatever happens politically, the UK will remain an outward-looking, trading nation and a magnet for immigrants the world over. London’s position as one of the few truly global cities is also unlikely to change.