The Iberian peninsular breaks away from the mainland and heads towards America before eventually returning to Europe, in The Stone Raft, a wonderful novel by José Saramago.
It feels today as if the United Kingdom will start a similar journey into dangerous waters when the decision to leave the EU is made irrevocable by signing Article 50. But the far coast is much less attractive with a protectionist Donald Trump in the White House.
While the political establishments in both the UK and the USA have miscalculated the anger of many electors the similarity of the Brexit and Presidential votes ends there. The consequences are very different.
Brexit is a giant shock to Britain’s place in the world. It will sever old links and require new ones to be forged. As some of its keenest proponents concede, this transition will bring painful costs. Most of all it demands lots of good will and flexibility on all sides. In so far as Mr Trump’s win means a meaner, more fractious, more volatile global order, it raises those costs and shrinks that space for compromise and consensus essential for a smooth Brexit.
It seems to me that we now need, more than ever, to be a part of strong European Union and its trading bloc.