How's this for apocalyptic? "As a historian I fear Brexit (the British vote to leave the European Union in the referendum this Thursday) could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilization in its entirety." So said Donald Tusk, president of the European Union, in an interview published last week in the German newspaper Bild.

Tusk is not alone in his worries: Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's foreign minister, fretted aloud earlier this month that the British referendum could trigger an avalanche of demands for special treatment or in/out referendums in other EU member countries.

"Other EU member states (may) say: 'Well if they can leave, maybe we should also have referendums and maybe we should also leave,' " Wallstrom told the BBC. Like Tusk, she fears that the whole 60-year experiment in European unity may start to fall apart if Britain leaves.