Brexit sparked a rise in euroscepticism across the bloc, and in the past 30 years support for anti-EU parties both on the Left and Right of politics has risen to 35 percent, analysis showed. Among the reasons for Britain deciding to free itself of Brussels was its desire to “take back control” of its laws, waters and trade. This has been highlighted best in recent weeks as the UK soared past its counterparts in Europe by providing a continent-leading coronavirus vaccine rollout programme.
While all 27 member states had to wait for the green-light to begin purchasing various vaccinations from across the globe, the UK made the quick move to snap up jabs for its citizens.
So far more than 20 million Britons have been vaccinated, at a rate of 31.2 people per 100 citizens.
The rate in the EU stands at 7.6 jabs administered per 100 people.
With anger growing at leaders inside the bloc, including the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, who admitted the jab rollout had had issues, eurosceptics have begun to make their voices louder.
And in the immediate moments after the UK voted Leave in 2016, David Wemer – a Europe Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy – warned the rest of Brussels, the likes of Sweden could follow Britain out of the bloc.
He claimed the day after the referendum, EU leaders were “already misreading the lessons of Brexit”, in the way they responded to the poll.
Mr Wemer said that the bloc should have acknowledged “the vote as a rebuke of the EU’s political structure”, but in fact “portrayed the Union as a victim of rising populism”.
The response in places such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany saw politicians demand “further integration to alleviate the economic and political grievances animating populist forces”, Mr Wemer suggested.
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But he argued that “Brexit was successful because it capitalised on long-standing British discomfort with extensive political and financial integration”, a stance “Sweden has long shared”.
He added: “Further integration may save the project of transnationalism, but it would do so only at the expense of excluding members like Sweden and would doom the idea of European unity to a handful of core nations.”
With Sweden then facing the prospect of “political isolation without the UK and feeling pressure to cede more sovereignty to Brussels”, Mr Wemer admitted it would only be a matter of time until “Swedish political elites may look to leave the Union”.
He also noted the dilemma Brexit had caused EU lawmakers, and how its next choices could make or break the bloc.
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For a piece in the Diplomatic Courier, he concluded: “In the United Kingdom, it was ultimately an alliance between populist anger and conservative elite opposition to an ‘ever closer union’ that won the referendum.
“This scenario could easily be repeated in Sweden, Denmark, and even the new Eastern European states.
“Perhaps more concerning, a gridlock between integrationist and anti-integration member states could cripple the already dysfunctional EU system, further deteriorating support for the Union throughout the continent.”
In 2016 there was an appetite for Swexit, as a poll by TNS Sifo found that 36 percent would be in favour of quitting the EU, while 32 percent were against.
Similarly, nine in 10 people also felt that the UK leaving the EU would be a bad thing to happen to the bloc – and for Sweden.
Sweden enjoyed a solid friendship with the UK while it was a member of the bloc, and often relied on its vote during sessions in the European Parliament.
Between 2009 and 2015, the UK and Sweden joined together on 88 percent of votes, Votewatch Europe claimed.
The nations also successfully led an unprecedented charge to secure the first ever EU budget cut back in 2013.
Ulrica Schenström, a Moderate Party member and former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s state secretary, also explained how difficult Sweden’s relationship with the bloc could become should the UK quit in 2016.
She said that there were “lots of reasons for Sweden to be worried”, The Local reported, adding: “Our partnership with the UK, which like us is outside the euro but inside the EU, is really important for us.
“Britain has done a lot of the heavy lifting for us non-euro countries.”