If, for a moment, I imagine I were English, I can just about begin to understand why they came to vote for Brexit. The English, or British, for they are, it has become increasingly clear, largely synonymous, believe that they are exceptional. That was once perhaps true in a way. Loss of empire has done little, or nothing, to disabuse the English/British Establishment of that particular delusion.
Just this week, I heard or read an English political commentator, I forget which, insist that the “British” must negotiate with the EU as an equal. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just not realistic. England, or Britain, as I’ve said before, is just another ordinary middle size country, barely on a par with Germany, never mind an economic and political union compromised of (soon to be) 27 other countries.
David “the dafty” Davis, Boris “the buffoon” Johnson, Michael “Gollum” Gove, and their ilk insist that we’ve the upper hand, because we buy their stuff by the bucketload. I could be wrong, but I can’t see Brexit changing that. The German’s will still build the best engineered, most prestigious (accessible) motor cars, in the world. And, I’ve tasted English wine.
Basically, the Brexiteers seem to be saying, that the British trade deficit with the EU is a great thing. I seem to remember, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, a trade deficit was made out to be quite the opposite. In fact, in the present day, one of President Trump’s (numerous) bugbears, has been the US trade deficit with China.
Nevertheless, the English/British negotiating team -it is most definitely NOT a UK negotiating team, as the Scottish and Welsh devolved Governments have been excluded- expect the EU to capitulate to their demands for tariff free access to the single market, for fear that their Audi’s, BMW’s, and Mercedes, will disappear from British driveways, replaced by who knows what. The British middle-class, let’s be honest, are dreadful snobs, and a Kia Sportage, or a Hyundai Tucson, doesn’t have quite the same badge kudos as a BMW X3.
I’ve written before, about the English/British craving for status, which has to do with their sense of exceptionalism. We keep hearing leading Brexiteers bleating in about Britain “leading the world” in free trade, and taking its rightful place, as an independent world power once more. It’s all very tedious. You’d think they really, really ought to have gotten over it, and accepted and adapted to their dimished state. But no, we have to have nuclear Viagara, by way of Trident, and obscene vanity projects like HMS Codpiece and HMS Wonderbra, the aircraft carriers without aircraft. All to be seen to be important.
The harsh reality is, that tacking poverty and inequality, will always take a back seat in Britain, as long as they persevere with their post-imperial delusion. In fact, the Tories are willing to risk even greater poverty and inequality, in their doomed quest to make Britain the biggest and best (as they see it), once more.
Here in Scotland, we are, in effect, expected to put up and shut up. Sure, the Tory Government at Westminster tell us they’re keen to come to an agreed position on Brexit with the devolved administrations, but that position absolutely has to be their position, no ifs, not buts. It’s all fine and well, prattling in about pulling together and getting the best Brexit for the whole of the UK, but if there’s if there’s a fundamental, irreconcilable difference of opinion(s) as to what that is, where does that leave us? Predictably, the right-wing mainstream media, are now trying to make out that if Brexit is a disaster, it will be because the likes of the SNP scuppered it. It won’t. It’ll be entirely, exclusively down to Tory incompetence, ineptitude, and introspection.
And if Scottish Unionist Remainers think that Jeremy Corbyn will save the day, they’re sadly mistaken. Okay, so he’s just this week put some clearish blue water between Labour and the Tories over Brexit, but even if the Government were defeated over a customs union, Tory Brexiteers wouldn’t entertain Theresa May accepting it. Just supposing the Government were to fall, and Corbyn were to win the next General Election -which I doubt, on the contrary, I expect Labour to fall back in the polls as a result of Corbyn’s policy shift, though obviously, I could be wrong- what Labour are suggesting, as far as I, even as a Remainer, am concerned, means they’d be as well not bothering to go through with Brexit at all.
Not only is the Tory Government hell-bent on imposing Brexit on Scotland, to its detriment, there’s the blatant attempt at a power grab -back in the spotlight yesterday- which is an another affront to the devolution settlement. All of this begs the question, is there nothing the English/British Establishment can’t do, for a majority of Scots to say enough-is-enough, to hell with being at the mercy of an arrogant authoritarian master, let’s have some self bloody respect?