When the European Union unexpectedly won the Nobel Peace Prize this month, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy spoke of their pride. But the British prime minister, David Cameron, maintained an awkward silence.
Before that, the British government said it wanted to exercise an opt out of an estimated 133 areas of European Union police and judicial cooperation to which it had once agreed.
And Mr. Cameron supported a plan for a new budget for countries that use the euro (which Britain does not), something that would place his nation firmly in Europeâ€™s outer tier. The prime minister has been hinting that he could hold a referendum on Britainâ€™s relations with the union, and one newspaper reported recently that a senior cabinet minister wants Britain to threaten openly to leave the 27-nation bloc. There was no official denial of the report.
All of which has fueled concerns that Britain is laying plans for what political and financial pundits have dubbed â€œBrixit,â€ a variant on â€œGrexitâ€ â€” the shorthand for Greeceâ€™s much predicted if currently forestalled departure from the euro zone.