So long, we’ll miss you – we Europeans see how much you’ve helped to shape us | Fintan O’Toole

History will judge that the near 50-year relationship between the UK and Europe has been good for both. Best to forget the rancorous ending

Now that a deal has been done, the end of Britain’s life as a member of the European Union can be decently mourned. As funeral orations go, the one William Shakespeare put into the mouth of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar is, well, world-beating: “The evil that men do lives after them,/ The good is oft interred with their bones.” Before we throw the last handful of earth on the corpse of Britain’s membership of the European Union, we might briefly disinter the good things about the relationship.

A bad ending gets projected backwards. A messy divorce obliterates the years of reasonably happy marriage. Brexit has projected into the future a sour story of resentment and rancour. Almost 50 years of history are squeezed into a deterministic story of irreconcilable incompatibility. The evil lives on; the good rots in the earth.

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