Britain had a global empire more powerful and influential than any other in the modern world. Now it is condemned for withdrawing from a transitory, illusory organization fraught with seismic internal contradictions and inconsistencies, the European Union. The emerging conventional wisdom is that Britain made a terrible mistake because it needs Europe to survive. The story goes, without Europe, Britain is nothing.

Not so. Europe is the past. Europe is racked by demographic decline and economic irrelevance. Those nations in Europe with high fertility are propped up by unsustainable welfare policies. One solution might be immigration, but Europe views immigrants with dread, fear and prejudice. Europe has run out of ideas and the EU is a form of isolationism unlike anything in modern history.

The main problem with escapist Europe is that it is the old world, a world that is far away from contemporary dynamism, which is in Asia. In fact, Asia was always the key, which helps explain why the British, Dutch, French, Germans and Portuguese pursued exploration and empire in the East. Some would argue that these empires deliberately stalled economic development in the East so Europe would prosper.