Brexit is a triumph of English nationalism and jingoism. It is nothing to celebrate
A triumph of right wing demagoguery driven by ignorance and bigotry — an emotional reach back in time to a supposed golden age when Britannia ruled the waves, Johnny Foreigner knew his place, and the Union Jack flew wherever it damn well pleased — this is Brexit.
Britain is today a country in which xenophobia, anti-migrant hostility, nativism and ethno-nationalism enjoy mainstream currency, where before they existed on the margins. That Brexit also constitutes an act of enormous economic self-harm and will have the effect of turning Britain into a dumping ground for American exports and in terms of the ‘special relationship’ will see Britain go from being a poodle at Washington’s feet to a handkerchief in Washington’s pocket, clearly none of this matters in the hearts and minds of those caught up the emotional throes of unbounded flag-waving, chest-thumping patriotism.
Indeed, the unedifying sight of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party colleagues waving little Union Jacks on the last day in the European Parliament for UK MEPs tells us everything we need know about Brexit. It is a victory for Little Englanderism and national chauvinism; and therefore how fitting and symbolically powerful was it that it fell to Irish MEP and Speaker of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, to shut down Farage while he was in midst of his Gammon-faced rant, instructing him and his colleagues to put their flags away and get out?
Despite the attempts of its delusional left wing adherents, Brexit in every particular is a project of the hard right. It is informed by a rejection of reality on the part of those for whom immigration, multiculturalism and Muslims have always been a curse and a blight on England’s green and pleasant land
Make no mistake about it, the only reason that foaming reactionaries such as Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party have succeeded in seeing their dream of a supposed British Ruritania realised is ten years of Tory austerity. Because, yes, the socioeconomic conditions for Brexit were sown over the course of an unrelenting assault on public services, wages, welfare benefits and the de-industrialised and unskilled working class to an extent not seen in Britain since Hitler’s Luftwaffe was dropping its bombs on them. The resulting hardship and despair produced a reservoir or anger in the poorer regions of England and Wales — regions of the UK formerly associated with heavy industry and strong trade union traditions, but which now, after four decades and more of Thatcherisn, are associated with poverty and decline.
Thus former prime minister David Cameron’s decision to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2016 was the political equivalent of a man handing the keys of his house to an arsonist while he’s off on holiday. In so doing, Cameron only revealed that he did not understand the country he was leading, cloistered as he and his fellow Old Etonians and scions of unearned privilege are in a bubble of born-to-rule entitlement.
The end result is Brexit - a pristine example of the cure being worse than the disease. Those three million UK jobs that are currently dependant on single market membership; those supply chains that will be impacted; a Good Friday Agreement that has maintained an absence of conflict in Ireland and is now under threat; and a train of Scottish independence that has now left the station and is clattering down the track with the kind of inevitability it did not have in 2014 — all of the above is Brexit the reality, a reality that exists in contradistinction to the movie its leading proponents have starred in throughout.
After the Union Jack waving and triumphalist chest-beating is over, the reality will start to bite. Then we will see that this right wing disaster capitalist project marks the beginning not of the independence of the UK, but instead its eventual and inevitable break-up.
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