Don’t miss Scottish author William Boyd’s scathing remorse on the futility of Brexit in Le Monde. Some highlights below.
The Brexit problem, however, is an old one and goes back many decades. It’s to do with a particular cast of mind, a pervasive fantasy of England and the English (rather than Britain and the British) that certain people, men and women, hold with a bizarre, iron certainty. The interesting aspect of this national delusion is that it transcends class and socio-economic barriers. Poor working-class Labour voters and extremely rich Conservative voters feel the same. Collectively they could be described as « Little-Englanders ».
The vote to leave became a form of protest against the injustices that were seen as being forced upon this segment of the population. Genuine injustices, as I say – lives are hard; the people least able to afford it are still paying for the financial crash of 2008. But it was now cast in a different light: everything wrong with their deprived lives, their shabby towns, their horrible jobs, their meagre services, was the fault of Europe — and immigrants. Simply get out of Europe, the Brexit campaign lied to them, control immigration, and your life will be immeasurably better.
A week before the referendum, my local butcher in London asked me how I was going to vote. « Are you “in” or “out”? » he questioned, in all candid seriousness. I’m « in », I told him, emphatically, and added that I believed it would be utter insanity to leave the EU. « I’m voting to leave, » he volunteered. I looked at him incredulously and I think he sensed my unspoken baffled judgement. He’s a nice man and I didn’t want the argument to go any further. « Don’t worry, » he said, smiling reassuringly, secure in his faith. « We can do it. No problem. We’ll be fine. »I asked him again last week if he was happy with the way Brexit was going. He wouldn’t answer my question and changed the subject. Bitter Brexit reality is beginning to dawn on the dreamers. Only Europe can save the rest of us.