I continue to be perplexed by British politicians and political commentators talking as if the manner of the UK’s departure from the EU was a matter of choice. Many of these people seem to genuinely believe that the UK Government can, on behalf of the various vested interests that it represents, tailor Brexit in such a way as to avoid much of the deleterious impact. They really seem to imagine that the institutions and remaining member nations of the EU are just sitting there waiting for Theresa May to tell them what it is that she wants so that they can helpfully accommodate her.
First there was “soft Brexit”, and the notion that the UK could simply choose to retain privileged access to the single market having torn up the membership of the EU which is the essential prerequisite for such access. Then there was talk of the “Norway option”, as if Norway’s views on the matter counted for nothing. Now we have solemn pronouncements about a “transitional deal”.
What all of these have in common is the fact that they are totally delusional. The impression given is of a British political establishment desperately trying to convince itself that Brexit can be achieved without consequences. Or, at least, that the process can be made relatively pain-free.
In all of this one finds the acrid stench of British exceptionalism – an innate conviction that the British state is special which has as its counterpart a sense of righteous victimhood born of the equally strong belief that this status is bitterly resented by the rest of the world.
There are a couple of things we can be reasonably sure of amid all the uncertainty of Brexit. All the talk of “soft Brexit” and “transitional deals” will ultimately be exposed as whimsically euphemistic fantasy as the reality of the imposed punitive settlement bites. And blame for the inevitable impact of Brexit will be placed firmly on the shoulders of Johnny Foreigner.
When this happens, British nationalists will be incandescent with indignation that the UK is being penalised for its actions. The anger which should be directed at the British politicians who created the situation will instead be directed outwards against our neighbours. All of which will be disturbingly familiar to those who know a little of Europe’s history.Views: 4076
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