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Introduction

J. Thomson’s 1814 map of the English Channel.

So close, and yet so far away. . . .For thousands of years, the peculiarities of geography have shaped the relationship between the British Isles and continental Europe. The Channel and the North Sea have served as both barrier and bridge, creating a unique situation in which life on either side of the water has evolved neither entirely separately nor entirely in sync. After World War II, questions of political and economic integration displaced questions of military security, but how to share peace and prosperity has proved almost as difficult as how to avoid war.

The shocking vote for “Brexit” on June 23 is thus only the latest twist in a long and complex story, and it raises far more questions than it answers. What does sovereignty mean in the twenty-first century? How much globalization is enough? And above all, is it possible for partners such as the United Kingdom and the European

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