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A year from now, the British economy will be weaker, inflation and unemployment will be higher, house prices will probably be lower and some prominent firms will have left London for other European capitals.

These are a few of the likely consequences of “Brexit,” the United Kingdom’s historic vote to leave the European Union. While the vote, largely a surprise, was a resounding repudiation of the governing elite, it could also prove the folly of nations—including, possibly, the United States—withdrawing from globalization and going it alone.

Free trade is obviously under assault in many developed nations, as voters rage against crony capitalism and trade deals that seem to benefit the haves while leaving the have-nots behind. There’s validity to those concerns, since income inequality has, in fact, gotten worse, and there are workers who end up unemployed and forgotten when free trade lets companies move production to low-cost countries.

Many business leaders and economists argue that the alternative to globalization—more protectionism, trade wars, and closed economies—would be a lot worse than what we have now. But those are gauzy, intangible arguments that can never be proven. And it can be difficult to defend free trade because the benefits—lower prices on many goods, ready markets for exports, freer capital flows —typically accrue in incremental ways that are invisible to consumers.

The downsides of globalization are often more tangible than the upsides. When a company closes a domestic factory and ships the jobs overseas, for instance, the pain is tangible and the losers have faces and families. We see how globalization harms a few much more vividly than we see how it aids many.

Britain will now serve as a real-life experiment in what happens when a prominent, developed nation turns inward and shuns globalization. And every other country can now look on and gauge whether it wants to go next.

It’s possible the UK will end up better off down the road, as Brexit supporters claim, since the country will no longer be bound by arcane EU rules dreamed up by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. But that will come, if at all, only after several years that seem likely to be painful for Brits and especially for the working-class voters who were the most ardent supporters of Brexit.

Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicts that the UK’s economic growth rates will fall sharply for the next several years, hitting just 0.2% in 2017. That’s nearly a recession. The British pound, which has been plunging in value, will probably fall further, making British exports cheaper in other countries, but making imports to Britain more expensive. That will cause inflation. A confidence crisis and restrained spending, meanwhile, will push unemployment up and home prices down. That’s on top of a stock market that’s likely to struggle more in the UK than in other parts of Europe.

The Brits hurt most by the coming pullback will be those with the least margin for error, as is always the case. And those are the blue collar voters in “middle England,” where support for Brexit was strongest. Recessionary forces rarely harm the sort of elites Brexit supporters are supposedly enraged at. They harm people trying to live on fixed incomes or struggling to pay the bills.

There’s valid concern about separatists in France, Spain and other European nations gaining momentum in the aftermath of Brexit, forcing votes in those countries that could have the same outcome. This is why some analysts worry that the whole European Union is in jeopardy.

But will French and Spanish voters really look at the suddenly handicapped UK economy and say, hey, we’d like to try that, too? Some might, but swing voters unsure how to vote would probably see the wealth destruction taking place in the UK and say, nah.

The same goes for American supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose plan to kill trade deals and slap high tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports is arguably more extreme that Brexit. The thinking here is that Americans who see Brits bucking the establishment will suddenly feel emboldened to do it themselves, which will become manifest in a presidential win for Trump in November. But it’s just as plausible, and maybe more likely, that Americans will look at the damage Brits did to their own economy and say, “Why would we want to do that here?”

Brexit, in fact, may be turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to free trade. It will be the first case study in modern history of what happens when a whole country bails out of the global establishment. And while it might feel good for a moment or two, it’s hard to imagine the Brexit cheers will persist as prosperity seeps out of the UK.

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