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#Brexit – The Great British Betrayal

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Not so much a Saturday Sound-Off as a Sunday Sermon!

As gratifying as it was to see so many people marching against Brexit on Saturday, the party was spoiled by the reappearance on our screens of Nigel Farage with his insistent repetition of nonsense about ‘independence’. Behind that insistence is the insidious lie that we are a vassal state to Europe. Try as I might, I cannot understand why so few seem unable see the truth: that Brexit is a betrayal.

A betrayal of our shared geography, our shared history, our shared culture and, above all, our shared values.

The idea of a ‘right little, tight little, island‘ in the context of the 21st century ‘global village‘ is so out of touch with reality that it would be laughable were it not so frighteningly tragic.

If you doubt that the British Isles share geographical space with the rest of Europe consider these facts: Galway is roughly the same distance from Kiev as Seattle is from Miami; Oslo is nearer to Naples than Los Angels is to New York.

map-of-europe

The last thousand years of our history are scarred by disputes between kings, and would be kings, both within and across national boundaries. The England we know and love was shaped by the invasion of Normans from across the English Channel, themselves the descendants of Scandinavians who had invaded the British Isles and the area now generally known as France several centuries earlier. Our present Royal Family has German ancestry. The British king most revered by the Irish Unionists was Dutch.

We share with other nations of Europe, too, a history of colonisation. Britain’s might have been the largest empire, but France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands and Germany all established colonies in far flung parts of the world. Arguably that is why the two most recent wars between them spilled over to become World Wars. And why the legacy of those wars, in the Middle East especially, is one of continuing war and suffering.

We share a love of the same music. Make a list of your favourite classical composers and it will inevitably include Germans, at least one French man, a Pole and an Austrian as well as great Britons like Walton, Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Even when it comes to ‘pop’ and rock, the Europeans are in there somewhere, and not just ABBA. The Beatles cut their performing teeth in Hamburg.

Some of our greatest literature comes to us, in translation, from Europe. Les Miserables may be a successful British piece of musical theatre but it began life as a classic of French literature.

But the greatest betrayal, the one that cuts like a red hot knife to the very heart of everything I was brought up to believe, is the betrayal of our shared values.

The idea that every human being deserves respect; that those blessed with good fortune have a duty to share some of that largesse with those less fortunate than themselves; that no-one should be denied access to education, a rewarding job and care in ill health and old age.

The EU embodies those values in its constitution. Freedom of movement, so reviled by some Britons, guarantees the freedom of individuals to live and work and attend an educational institution where they choose. Please note that it does not guarantee access to social welfare. The rules that regulate trade seek to prevent workers and consumers from being ripped off by unscrupulous corporations. The environmental regulations are there in an attempt – admittedly inadequate – to ensure that the world our grand children inherit is not too sullied by our profligacy.

The idea that the nations of Europe, after a millennium and more of conflict, have come together to try to mitigate the harm those conflicts and the colonialism did, an enterprise in which Britain has played no small part, is one of the greatest achievements of my generation.

One of the more fatuous statements of those opposed to #Brexit is “We were great before, we can be great again.”. To which I would say we have spent the last half century and more using our greatness to ensure the adoption of those shared values across the world, through our involvement in the United Nations and the European Union.

It breaks my heart to see so many of my fellow countrymen working to destroy that achievement.

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9 Comments

  1. Clive says:

    I can think of no way in which the UK will become a better country after Brexit. The gullible masses have fallen for the lies and hypocrisy of those who led an illegal campaign to leave the EU. Not once have I heard one of them say clearly how they think the country will improve: all they have is vacuous slogans. ‘We’ll be great again’ is the equivalent of ‘MAGA,’ and about as meaningless.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. franklparker says:

    I’ve been trying to ‘reach out’ to a few acquaintances who are zealous leavers to get those sort of answers. So far the best that anyone has come up with is “the working time directive”. I happen to know he used to be a long distance lorry driver and is now a taxi driver so that particular piece of legislation does impact his work. However, I felt I had to point out that Brexit does not guarantee it will be removed from UK legislation, certainly not if Corbyn is elected. Unions love it, the CBI hates it, So, like so much else, it will come down to who is in power in Westminster at any given time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I share your views and concerns, Frank. It has now turned out to be a great deception for those who had voted in favor of Brexit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Frank, very well said. When the masses are afraid and feeling left out of the prosperity of the few, it is easy to manipulate them.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. tidalscribe says:

    You clarify so well what we Remainers have known by instinct from the start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • franklparker says:

      And the problem, I suppose, is that they are concepts which are not easy to get across to people who feel left out, as Donna has pointed out. Much easier to believe those who claim it’s all the fault of the EU and that everything will be fine again if we leave. The other concern I have is that, when I talk about ‘shared values’, I know that there is a significant section of the public that does not share those values and is easily swayed by appeals to the baser instincts.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. […] Sunday I posted another justification for my opposition to #Brexit. Because it was too late to call it a “Saturday Sound Off”, I described it as a […]

    Like

  7. pjlazos says:

    Ah, so true. We will never one of us get there unless all of us get there.

    Liked by 1 person

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