UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses atop a giant English flag outside 10 Downing Street, London, July 2, 2021

I joined Boston University’s Center for the Study of Europe on Friday to discuss the US-UK relationship after Brexit.

At least that was the start of my 30-minute presentation, “On The Whole I’d Rather Be in Dublin”. The discussion moved from Britain’s self-imposed isolation in the world, including the erosion of links with Washington, to the question: why would a country of almost 70 million people, with the world’s sixth-largest economy, take such a damaging path?

Seeking a rational explanation of an irrational decision, we explore English politics, society, and history — all the way back to the 15th century — and explain why emotion is at the heart of the answer.