I reproduce this poignant piece by Jamie Anderson on our Facebook group, having received his permission to do so. He has a nice plain but educated way to express himself. Maybe, this death of my native country can be averted. The more I watch videos of debates between leavers and remainers, the more I see that the arguments of the former are hollow and only based on the idea that the 2016 referendum was final and binding, and that we have to “get used to” the consequences to ourselves and others. There is no answer to the extremely serious concerns like the revival of troubles in Northern Ireland, the end of free movement and catastrophic disturbances for business and public services. Not a word to provoke thought and dialogue.
I am heartened by the turnout to the People’s Vote March and that there was no violence. We read that the numbers are half to three-quarters of a million. I hope and pray the demonstration will serve to turn the tide. Our political establishment is without credibility and many problems remain if we want to avoid what happens to failed states.
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The Death of a Country
Today is the day of the People’s Vote March in London. As I watch the live coverage on the ‘Independant’ site I can see the comments being made by the many other people watching the same footage. The comments range from ‘Thank you for being there for us – your friends in Spain’ to ‘You lost get over it – OUT OUT OUT’. Those of us who believe in a united Europe are as usual being called ‘Traitors’, ‘losers’ and of course ‘remoaners’. However, I happen to believe that we are British, Patriotic, and wish to see our country prosper in the modern world.
The 2016 referendum was not a football match. However, I realise that the England team normally lose, and that their supporters are therefore normally obliged to ‘get over it’ and so it may seem logical to the Brexit brigade that the losing side should just get on with it and get over it. However, we have a difference here. The England side are still a reality, and will still play because they are part of FIFA. Would the Brexiteers have been so happy to lose the match if losing the match disqualified their team from further World Cup competition ? Would they just ‘get over that’ ? In fact, how would most premier league sides in the UK look if your remove all foreign players ? A bit shorter on numbers I think. And so we start to see the double standards of the Brexiteers.
BREXIT is not a football match. It is the rejection of the United Kingdom’s place in modern Europe, and the rejection of our place in the world. Many years of history have brought modern Europe into being. From the earliest day the British have been explorers and settlers. Overseas trade, power and financial interest drove the rush to build an Empire as it did for most other European countries (even Belgium managed to ‘bag’ a bit of the Congo…) The power of Nationalism and greed over Diplomacy eventually plunged Europe into the two worst wars in history in the early part of the 20th century, and our foreign allies were called in to help us not only in ending the war, but in rebuilding Europe afterwards.
Today, London continues to be an important Financial hub, the Monarchy remains at the head of the Commonwealth, European investment in our industries (Renault/Nissan) provide us jobs, and the very construction of the Modern EU reflects the British parliamentary system with an upper and a lower house. The UK has been an important part of the EU, using it’s influence to form EU legislation that helps us and using it’s right of veto when necessary to exclude us from reforms that we felt were not to our advantage ( for example, the adoption of the EURO). The UK has never been ‘dictated to’ by Europe as the UK is Europe. This modern Europe has become a powerful and stable force in world politics and world trade and it has enabled small countries rather like the UK to compete with and trade with and be protected from large countries whose interests may be predatory. This modern Europe has enabled UK citizens to move freely throughout Europe, to live and work where they like, and to enjoy health cover and safety wherever they like. This modern Europe was fought for and built by our Fathers and our Grandfathers and is something to be proud of, not something to be thrown away by Cheap Jack politicians hell bent on remaining in power by rabble rousing.
The 2016 referendum was flawed from the beginning. Was it advisory or was it a definitive vote? Regardless, why were the 5 million UK citizens who live overseas not able to vote in it ? Many were ‘not eligible’ as they had lived overseas for too long. Other like myself were unable to vote because our papers simply didn’t arrive in time. How can you have any form of referendum if those who are most affected by it are unable to have a say ? How many people were unable to vote ? Estimates range from 1.3 million to 8 million. The more important fact is that no one should have been excluded – but we were.
The claims made by the leave campaign have now all been exposed as lies. Why are these people not now being fined and arrested under electoral law ? Their funding was illegal, yet we are treated to these bigoted imbeciles daily as they are still allowed to broadcast. Why ? We have had over two years to investigate but the authorities seem to have walked away while chanting ‘Brexit means Brexit you loser…’ These of course are the same authorities that failed to implement EU immigration law in place since 1994, and then claimed that the EU was the cause if the immigration problem. These are the same people that failed to claim back the costs of Healthcare from member states under reciprocal agreements, then claimed that the EU is bankrupting the NHS ; the list goes on and would fill pages.
Today a huge number of people have made the journey from France and Spain to London in order to make their position known. The flights back to the UK have been full as UK citizens return to the UK to do what they can to stop this arrogant band of second rate politicians from sacrificing our precious freedom to live our lives as we want, where we want. If being British is about freedom, then it has to be said the the EU and what it stands for is entirely British. I thank all those who have made the effort to go to London – you are not losers, you are not ‘remoaners’ you are not traitors. You are British people fighting for our rights to freedom of movement, and a place in the modern Europe that so many fought so hard to create.
BREXIT is a cheap con trick brought about by the self interest of those who have no interest in the well being of the UK or its citizens. The fact that they succeeded in 2016 is already a failure, but also a symptom of a greater problem in the same way that the election of Donald Trump is a symptom of a greater problem in the USA rather than the cause. This is where rabble rousing and sound bytes replace common sense, where racial hatred and division replace harmony and integration. This is where mob mentality replaces reality, and where destructive politicians bolster their careers. This is where our country ceases to lead the world in our struggle for a cleaner, peaceful and prosperous multi cultural place to live, and descends into the deepest recess of its own arrogance.
BREXIT is very simply the Death of a Country.
Fr Anthony, I have so far refrained from commenting on the subject of “Brexit” on this blog (although I have read and appreciated the thoughts and concerns throughout your recent posts on the issue) because it’s a very emotive subject, but I have to say that I resent being told that I was deceived during the referendum campaign, as though I were a simpleton. My vote had nothing to do with the manifest charlatanry of the most prominent “leave” campaigners, like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, whom I dislike intensely, and whose “euroscepticism” seemed a sudden change to fit the hour, no doubt to boost their political careers. I have thought for many years that my country should leave the European Union (or, more accurately, I believe that we should never have gone into Europe in the first place, and would be considerably better off if we hadn’t; leaving has its undoubted challenges), which I view with apocalyptic suspicion as the successor to the Soviet Union. The status quo, which you think can be reformed (maybe it can), is this:
Since our entry into what was then the Common Market, we have undergone a kind of stealth revolution, which is continuous and has no intention of being reversed. We have a Monarch who, by being a citizen of the European Union, is not and cannot be a Sovereign. We have a Conservative Party which is not conservative; a Labour Party which is not socialist; a Liberal Party which is not liberal, and a church “by law Established” which cannot conceivably be described as Christian. We have armed forces which cannot be used in defence of the nation, but deployed, at the whim of our chums across the sea, in multilateral adventures to destabilize countries with which we have little strategic problem. We have laws which are not enforced and a police “service” who do not enforce them. We have juries which are not independent and do not have to be unanimous; we have marriage ceremonies which are meaningless; an education system that would rival Haiti; a criminal justice system which doesn’t work; elections which are not choices; borders which are not enforced, and money which is based on fantasy.
These are just some of the issues I could name. I’m not saying that our membership in the EU is entirely to blame for this. But it does seem to me that the status quo, which I have accurately described, cannot be bettered by our continued membership in the EU which stifles so much of our liberty. “Remainers,” in Brussels and elsewhere, need to get over the caricature that “leavers” are all small-minded and isolationist. I enjoy French wine; I drive a German motorcar; and I believe, with Dr Johnson, that all that separates us from barbarous peoples comes from the shores of the Mediterranean. Ours is just a perfectly natural desire for political self-determination. We all rejoice when former colonial countries gain their independence. Should the Greeks have remained subject to the yoke of the Turk, for fear that their independence would be too difficult? Why then do we not rejoice at the prospect of our own?
I think that calls for a second referendum are profoundly undemocratic and risk civil strife. In times of idleness, I sometimes wonder whether, had our side lost, we would be calling for another referendum; and if not, who is the more hubristic and hypocritical? Of course, the prospects of our actually leaving the EU are far from certain anyway. As I said, the revolution has no intention of being reversed!
Patrick, you do have some valid points here. In 2016, I was looking at alt-right news sources and believed the usual narrative about Brussels being an Orwellian monster with no accountability to anyone. All of a sudden, the same accusation is made against the British Establishment, with both Conservative and Labour being almost together in a “cartel”. Corbyn is no more socialist than the Conservatives! The same thing happened here in France as Macron faced off against Marine Le Pen. The traditional right-wing and left-wing parties were discredited. We seem to have “truth” and “alternative truth” in a “post-truth” era! The British Establishment represented by Mrs May clearly has no plan, or at least any plan that has been revealed to us ordinary people. What do we learn from that? Had I been allowed to vote 2 years ago (I am disenfranchised by the 15-year rule that still hasn’t been repealed) I might have been inclined to vote “leave”. I was no better informed than anyone else.
In such a situation of utter confusion, it is best not to change anything, certainly not to go off the edge of a cliff with no plan, no relationship, at least diplomatic, with the countries next door. Was all the catastrophic collateral damage (end of free movement, IRA trouble back in Northern Ireland, breaking of trade contracts, no transport between the UK and the Continent, etc., etc.) taken into consideration? I doubt it unless my native country truly has a black and diabolical heart.
As far as I understand this, a new referendum would be catastrophic for the UK political establishment. It would be a true constitutional crisis – even the ingredients of a revolution. But it would give a reason to cancel Article 50 and stop Brexit, especially if it is no-deal. The alternative is a Parliamentary vote against both the reactionary extremists and those for trying to patch up the Chequers plan, discredited in the eyes of Brussels. We could just do nothing and go over the cliff, and the catastrophic consequences may also cause a revolution.
Personally, I will fight by getting my settled status residence permit and French Nationality by declaration. I could then stick two fingers up at the UK, but I do care about my family, I also care about other expatriates who risk becoming illegal immigrants. I do care about my country however sick it has become. I am English and will never renounce my nationality or origins. This experience of two years and the discovery of that dark heart of people like Farange, Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and others – has brought me to revise my conservative positions. I spent many years in cognitive dissonance between my love of the liturgy and the reactionary politics of Catholic integralism. Like the Romantics in the wake of the French Revolution, I have come to accept wholeheartedly the legacy of the Enlightenment, human rights, Liberalism in its early 19th century incarnation, every aspiration and action against the totalitarianism of the 20th century in Germany, the Third Reich, Spain, Japan, Italy and South America. I embrace the founding principles of Europe which are close to English common law, the French declaration of human rights of 1789 and other declarations to the present day. I believe in the separation of religions from secular states, even if anti-Christian or anti-moral laws are enacted. Christianity can only ever be a leaven in a hostile world.
It has for me been a soul-searing examination of conscience, seeking the best of the human spirit, of universal consciousness and God who is in everything in one way or another. I could go on, but I must limit myself to what is most important for us as free human beings.
Of course, the EU needs to be reformed and made more transparent. There need to be better interfaces with the public, education programmes about how the EU works and who makes the laws. I think it is a lot less sinister than I myself have imagined. No human system is perfect, but it has kept us free from wars and totalitarianism since 1945. This to me is the key to keeping a level head. Let’s get rid of Brexit, get rid of the bad eggs in Westminster, reform British politics with new parties and manifestos – and work together for a better world. Nothing will ever be perfect but we can at least try…
See the new English equivalent of Emile Zola’s J’accuse.
This Guardian article illustrates things fairly well.
“Total parliamentary deadlock, with rejections of both Theresa May’s deal and a no-deal, is the likeliest route to another referendum”.
“Only when they are staring into the very depths of the abyss are a critical mass of MPs likely to conclude that they have no other choice but to go back to the people for the final say. It will get darker before it can become lighter”.
The question posed in the last paragraph of Patrick’s reasoned comment was answered by Nigel Farage ahead of the referendum in a widely reported interview with ‘The Daily Mail’ on 16th May 2016. Farage said “In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the Remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.” He went on to say that if the result was 52:48 a second referendum would be necessary.
The referendum was a disaster and a misguided attempt by Cameron to quash the anti-EU element within the Conservative Party. Sadly the intra-party divide has now fractured the entire country.
A result showing the country split in two could only bring the country together if the not-insignificant losing side’s view was respected. A proposal of something like the ‘Norway model’ may have been able to do this. However, the unexpected result (one the Leave team had no plan to deliver), in combination with the DUP’s supply arrangement after the last GE has mobilised the Tory far-right in trying to get the hardest of Brexit’s which is, in effect, sticking two fingers up at half of the country.
This is not going to go away.
I agree. What needs to happen is a sensible compromise. Because the majority in the referendum was so slight we need a soft Brexit to better reflect the sentiments of the remain side, such as the Norway option, whilst at the same time accepting the result of the referendum. The trouble is, a referendum on this whole issue was a catastrophic mistake. Referenda are repugnant to our constitution and are an implicit welshing, by the government, on parliamentary responsibility. This referendum has created two competing sources of democratic legitimacy, and a constitutional crisis. This is why I think that calls for a second referendum are undemocratic and would lead to civil strife. If the first referendum was full of lies and caused all this trouble, how much more so would the next one be?
I read an English AFP report with these quotations from M. Macron:
“Brexit has consequences but… we will not start [requiring] visas for UK people if there’s no deal,” Macron said at the end of a Brussels summit at which EU leaders made little progress in breaking the deadlock in talks.
“It is fake news, as other leaders would say!” he told reporters, speaking in English.
Taking precautions in the event that Britain and the European Union part ways without a deal “is just our responsibility”, Macron said.
“I want to reassure everybody about the day after,” he said. “I don’t want to create panic.”
“The day after, in case of a no-deal, everything will be organised with due processes, for normal life,” he said.
“You will have flights, boats and people circulating and people making business with new rules, but this is precisely the only way to have a day after — with new regulation.”
“It is not good way to proceed by saying it would be a disaster in case of no deal… But in case of no deal, our responsibility is to be sure that the life of our people will not be (too) impacted.”
Has anyone seen a fuller version of these English remarks or other relevant remarks of his in French?
Or similar sensible, humane remarks by anyone high up in the EU other than M. Macron and Señor Sánchez Pérez-Castejón?
The basis of Macron’s remarks is the bill from the Senate. See this article. It contains a link to the official text in French. Basically, it empowers the government to act according to the situation as it develops without going through the full rigmarole of the Assemblée Nationale and the Senate. My reading of this is to discern an intention to convey a message to the UK political establishment, not to frighten us ordinary people. I rather see France working to protect human rights even if the UK doesn’t. It would give Macron a lot of political capital.
Thanks! That’s a lucid article (even when I don’t catch all the detailed references). It would be good to see an overview of which other EU countries are working along analogous lines, and just how they are doing so.
My impression is that the British Establishment represented by Mrs. ReMayner clearly has a plan, though one that has been only implicitly revealed to us ordinary people – to scuttle any and all possibly worthwhile aspects of leaving the EU, placing the UK in a position with all the disadvantages and none of the advantages of membership: at least, if that were the purpose she would be acting as she has to date.
I think the only point of this is to enable these political figures to save their own skins. The entire political establishment is discredited, like in other countries including France. Macron got in because the prospect of Le Pen gave most French people shivers in the back. Mrs May is trying to stretch it out for as long as possible, buying time. In the end, it will be a no-deal Brexit or no Brexit. The Labour alternative is also boring and destructive with Corbyn the soviet dinosaur. Macron had the acumen to get out of the party political system and offer a new way of seeing things. His popularity has gone down, and of course he is yet another billionaire. Could someone sell Plato’s Republic and the Philosopher-Kings to a young modern audience? Please don’t suggest that I might consider trying it!!!
Being in the EU isn’t the panacea against all evils, because the crisis is in the entire political system. I suspect we may be on the brink of an implosion like what happened in the Soviet Bloc in 1989 and the early 90’s. The billionaire cartels moved in to establish a new “aristocracy” and the beginnings of a new feudal system. I suspect that this is what is happening now. Revolution? Look at history. Revolutions never solved anything other than assuage the hatred of the crowds as the knitting ladies counted the heads as they rolled. Putin is also one of them, just like Trump and Rees-Mogg.
Churchill understood the problems of democracy rather well:
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”.
“Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.
Democracy is only possible when ordinary people have been educated and trained to reason for themselves. I see little evidence of this.
I found the second of those Churchill quotations dated to 11 November 1947. It is interesting to compare a little article, “Equality”, by C.S. Lewis in The Spectator on 27 August 1943, which includes, “I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. Nor do most people – all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.”
Arend Smilde has interestingly transcribed the responses to this in subsequent issues, responses not always showing signs of sufficiently intelligent care in reading Lewis’s essay, but Sir Herbert Grierson’s essay, “Equality and Hierarchy”, seems a worthwhile addition:
If there is another referendum there should be a rule that a leave vote should only succeed if it is over 50% of eligible voters, as was done in the Scottish and Welsh devolution referenda in the late 70s. If people can’t be bothered voting it ought to mean that they are happy with the status quo.
That is a very sensible model. The simple majority vote was ill conceived and has led to this absurd situation. I would also be an advocate of taking Farage’s test too: a two-thirds majority to win or the status quo holds.
We all know this is hugely important. Imagine this was a legal trial and the jury delivered a 7:5 majority verdict (higher than the Leave vote which would have been 6.24). No judge would accept such a verdict and there would be re-trial.
To respond to my good friend Patrick above I do think with a second vote – if it happens – people would at least be more aware of the consequences of their decisions.