Stories

What happened to Great Britain?

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are bathed in a dull orange sky due to the remnants of Hurricane Orphelia dragging in tropical air and dust from the Sahara. Photo: Frank Augstein / AP

Steven Erlanger, the NY Times' Chief Diplomatic Correspondent and until recently the paper's London Bureau Chief, depicts a country in a "full-blown identity crisis" with a piece headlined, "No one knows what Britain is anymore."

U.K. politics have been dysfunctional to the extreme in recent months — Erlanger writes, quoting experts, "It is a 'hollowed-out country,' 'ill at ease with itself,' 'deeply provincial,' engaged in a 'controlled suicide' — but Erlanger contends that the politics of Brexit, May and Corbyn were decades in the making and are more troubling to Europeans even than the rise of Donald Trump.