Thu 29 October 2020

The problem is not in the stars of the EU flag but in ourselves

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Brexit is not the cause of British decline, but a symptom. Every institution that has failed over the past three years since the EU Referendum – from our electoral laws to our oligarch-captured media, a supine BBC and the dominance of a privately-educated elite — had major problems long before June 2016.

The decay is most visibly symbolised by the fake Gothic Palace of Westminster sinking into the Thames mud. 

It could have been worse. We could have launched a task force to recapture some far-flung colonial outpost, or joined the US in some fiasco of a war in order to restore our sense of relevance. Hundreds of thousands could have been killed. Instead, we’ve turned that hurt pride on ourselves in an act of egregious self harm.  

Byline Times has often pointed out the illegalities around the EU Referendum result: the non-domiciled, multi-millionaires who own our press and the darker forces of Russian interference and American offshore money that have poured over our borders to undermine our sovereignty. We only ever believed these could have made a difference on the margins, though given that only 1 in 50 people needed to change their vote for Britain to have remained in the EU, the difference could have been crucial. But the core bedrock of support for Brexit was always there and the vast bulk of it was a misdirected but genuine protest against our governing elite and the status quo. 

The problem is not in the stars of the EU flag but in ourselves and, now we do not have Brussels to blame, it is time to turn the moment of defeat, our Dunkirk, into a strategic retreat and regroup around the values we fought for. As the French say reculer pour mieux sauter. But withdraw to what? To jump where? 

Remain is over. But the majority of this country remain committed to the principles embedded in the EU at its origin (based on British jurisprudence and American economic and military investment): a rules-based rather than peremptory power-based system emphasising sound regulation, worker and environmental protections and civil rights. We can still fight to align ourselves with those, even if the Conservative Government overrules us centrally – village by village, town by town, city by city. 

The Scottish Parliament keeps flying the EU flag. As our first Byline Times documentary released today explains, even Unionists in Northern Ireland fear the rise of English nationalism and are looking to Dublin now for sanity and understanding.

The Brexiter dreams of Empire 2.0 will quickly crumble in global economic realities and it is likely that the creaky state of the United Kingdom will no longer be able to bear the contradictions at its core.

So, we will have to rebuild, region by region, nation by nation, for a more inclusive civic national identity to replace the false superiority complex of our imperial past.

And that’s a struggle for hearts and minds that we can win.

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