The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 02 Oct 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Brexiters have shot themselves in the foot

This is how it ends. A country that built a bloody Empire which, like a slow-moving Holocaust, killed and enslaved millions over many years and inflicted untold quantities of misery on people whose only crime was not being English now stomps out of the international association that made it relevant and, seduced by half-forgotten notions of past glories, blunders out into the wilderness. At the time of writing, it seems almost certain that Scotland will decide to go it alone, away from this disaster and that a union which has lasted for three hundred years is now emphatically over. For all of May’s bellicose rhetoric about the countries all leaving the EU together, Scotland will fight her until she gives in.

And it seems like this is the last act of narrative hubris that began with the First World War when the British Empire was at its height. Other nations saw what Britain had, and wanted something similar which set in chain a series of events that saw relevance fall away from it like flesh from a rotting corpse. The First World War begat the Second, the nations of the Empire saw the enfeebled home country laid low and decided that the time had come to make their move. The Commonwealth is no more than a sheet, held up by well-meaning people to let Britain pretend that it matters when, in reality, everyone knows that its borrowed clothes have been removed by people who want them back.

To everyone else, this must be deeply amusing. Never at ease with its post-colonial self, Britain had the indignity of finding out, in the Suez Crisis, that it could no longer project its power. In fact, it had no power to project. America had taken control of the West and there was nothing that British politicians could do but make statements or go on foreign tours, mainly to America, with whom it had told itself that it had a Special Relationship. The fallacy of this was always obvious, but it was never more starkly demonstrated than with Afghanistan and Iraq, when America did what it was going to do anyway and Britain pretended that it had been a moderating influence when everyone knew that it was needed purely to nod along at intervals.

Now the audience are taking their seats. When Brexit is triggered, Britain’s trade will slowly dwindle. Each conversation with anyone who even looks foreign will be heralded as a new dawn in global trade, when it’s really just us agreeing to slice the minimum wage in half or take a hundred transistor radios from a sweatshop in North Korea. The army of people who are retired and who voted to leave won’t notice any appreciable difference, of course, but the idiots who actually have jobs will regret the decision. Promotions won’t happen, orders will be cut, factories will be closed or mothballed and jobs will be lost. Perhaps theirs. It’ll be too late, by then, of course, to have any regrets, because the damage will have been done. They will be allowed to wave their little flags and sing patriotic songs but, as they’ll soon find, both make poor substitutes for money and food.

The fact there won’t be gangs of zombies feasting on human brains in the streets will be hailed by the Brexiters as some kind of triumph, but make no mistake – it will be slow-burning disaster of diminishing living standards. Fuhrage has already said that he doesn’t mind that Britain will lose out financially, because… well, because some things are more important than money. And you can say that when you have a lot of it. For those of us that don’t and who have to think about things a bit more carefully, losing out financially is a disaster. Living standards deteriorating, which they will do, is a problem. A very serious problem. Workers losing rights because those rights aren’t seen as being economical is also a problem. And the media, as we saw when May announced Brexit after meeting Murdoch, justifying it all is also a problem.

Britain withering away into irrelevance will take time. Years, maybe. None of the people who are arguing for it and who have sold it to idiots will be affected because they’re all wealthy. The burden will fall on the idiots. For my part, I don’t want to be here when this happens. For around two or three days of this week, I’m applying for jobs in mainland Europe with a view to settling wherever I manage to find one and applying for citizenship. This hurts my heart, as I love my home and love Sussex, but I can’t take a gamble on my future and I don’t want to live surrounded by racists and xenophobes. Every life choice involves making some kind of sacrifice and I suppose this will have to be mine. When I get my new citizenship in my new country, I’ll renounce my British citizenship as it will no longer avail me of anything worth having and calling myself ‘British’ would be a source of huge and infinite shame. A pity, then, but I’m exchanging one union that has given up on its future for another whose future is just beginning.

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