Brexit sent shock waves throughout the continent, with the UK formally leaving the bloc on January 1, 2021, following nearly 50 years of membership. The UK has wasted no time in capitalising on its newfound freedom, signing a number of lucrative trade deals with countries around the world. Oil giant Shell will relocate their head office from the Netherlands to Britain, while car manufacturer Nissan will make a multi-billion investment into developing electric cars at its plant in Sunderland.
The latest forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also show the UK economy is set to outperform the EU’s top economies and that of the Eurozone as a whole this year and next.
Campaign groups from several of the EU’s biggest member states, including France, Italy and the Netherlands, have pressed for their countries to follow the UK out of the EU.
Nile Gardiner, a foreign policy analyst and former aide to Margaret Thatcher, warned EU leaders are terrified of letting their own public vote on European membership over fears of what the final outcome might be.
He believes some of the more prominent member states will look push for more central control from Brussels, but there will be a furious fightback from others that could potentially trigger a “two-tier Europe”.
Mr Gardiner told Express.co.uk: “European elites fear democracy and letting their own public vote on European membership.
“You will see more attempts by EU leaders to consolidate power and a greater drive for euro federalism.
“The French will drive that and the Germans might be on board with some of that agenda.
“You will see some Governments pushing for more central control by Brussels but there will be a huge fightback from Central and European countries who don’t want to see that.
“Scandinavian countries won’t want to see further integration in Europe so you could see a two-tier Europe emerging.
“I’m in no doubt there will be growing campaigns by many countries to get out of the EU.”
The foreign policy expert also believes Brexit has set the wheels in motion for many other member states to leave the bloc, warning the EU could “could look very different 10-20 years from now”.
Mr Gardiner added the success of Brexit Britain “frightens the EU elites” who see Brexit as a huge threat to what they are hoping to achieve.
He said: “The success of Brexit Britain is being watched closely.
“The process that Brexit has begun is so powerful it will fundamentally transform the future of Europe.
“Brexit is about democracy, sovereignty and freedom in practice, and they are immensely powerful forces the European rulers won’t be able to stop.”
“The EU could look very different 10-20 years from now and as we have seen with the speed of Brexit, anything can happen.”
The foreign policy expert concluded: “The fact the UK has made a huge success out of Brexit frightens the EU elites.
“They want to preserve the core of the European project and see Brexit as a big threat which is why some EU officials are trying to make life difficult for the UK.
“Britain signing trade deals all over the world is a demonstration countries can go it alone outside of the EU.
“No country in the EU is holding a referendum on EU membership because European leaders are afraid of the possible outcome, but pressure will build over the 5-10 yrs for Governments to hold votes.
“Those could be close, including in France.”