Tuesday 6th February
Spain once had an empire – it involved stealing gold from American natives. France until recently had an empire – it involved stealing raw materials from much of North Africa. England (well, okay the UK) once had an empire which started with Slavery and ended in a series of sad defeats. Austria-Hungary once had an empire covering the Balkans and much of Eastern Europe. The Dutch and Portuguese were minor players in this game too. But all, except the Brits, have accepted that the game is over. France still considers itself an important country, especially in Europe. Spain is quietly rebuilding. Holland and Portugal and Austria and Hungary have now accepted that they are small countries whose interests are best served as part of a much larger group of countries acting together – the EU.
Britain continues to deceive itself that we are a World Power. There are only three World powers – America, deeply in debt and in a slow decline of its own. Russia, still struggling economically but with vast untapped resources and a rapidly modernising army. And, of course, China, who like the Cheshire cat sits smiling at the World while quietly getting stronger and stronger. England still believes that we have a special relationship with America, when all we share is a language (and many people doubt even that).
When we leave the EU, these Little Englanders, these Tory back-woodsmen, these harkers back to Empire, these ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ Nationalists, believe we will become ‘Great’ again; that the World will fall over itself to sign wonderful trade deals with us. America, which is rapidly become Isolationist and dis-engaging itself will only trade with us if we obey their rules (chlorinated chicken and all). China will smile and smile but are only interested in selling not buying anything of ours (except perhaps Scotch whisky). Australia is concentrating all their efforts on trading with the Pacific rim and China in particular. Canada? – oh yes, we may well want to buy maple syrup from them but almost all their trade is with the USA. And so it goes on. The third world is rapidly modernising and developing its own industries; they actually own our pathetically small steel industry. They do not need us, except maybe to launder illegal money, which we are particularly good at.
We have delusions of grandeur, we still worship the anachronism of the Royal family, we cling to the idea of the Commonwealth, as if somehow this will resurrect a fairer Empire with us still at the centre.
Out folly was illustrated by Amber Rudd on Andrew Marr. He said that the EU would simply not give us a special trade deal with all the advantages and no immigration. She replied that we would fight hard “Don’t imagine that we will surrender that quickly”. And Andrew laughingly said “Oh, so will surrender slowly.” And that is the reality. Against the EU, we will surrender slowly – just as we did in phase one of the discussions; the EU got exactly what they wanted. I don’t think a trade deal will even be discussed until the transition period begins. We will have technically left by then, but nothing will have changed – except the cliff-edge will loom closer. And our delusions of grandeur will slowly be shattered as we will either accept what they have to offer – or shuffle off into a slow and devastating oblivion