A colleague of mine posted a meme on Facebook concerning new postage stamps being issued to celebrate Brexit, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU). There was one for first class postage in which a medieval soldier was drawing a bow with the arrow pointed at his head. One third class stamp had an image of a shod foot with the barrel of a pistol pointed at the toe of the shoe; the other had what looked like a marble statue with its face in its hand. Someone, whose name I will not mention to save them embarrassment (I’ll call them P1), stated that she thought ‘England’ (yes, England) will survive Brexit. My colleague indicated that they’d survive, but wasn’t so sure they’d be better off. P1 said that ‘sometimes being independent is enough’. I couldn’t help myself and stated that people were gullible and believed the rubbish that Farage and Johnson told them, and noted that it was possible that the UK would break up. This is clearly a possibility given that there is a push in the Scottish Parliament for a second Scottish independence referendum. The previous referendum, in September 2014, voted to remain, winning 55% of the vote. However the Brexit referendum in 2016 voted to leave with 52% of the UK voting that way. However, the vote in Scotland was 62% for remaining in the European Union1. It makes you wonder how a second independence vote would go.
To my assertion about the future of the UK, P1 replied that ‘what will be will be’ and that ‘the UN has ripped them off for years if [sic] the UN wanted them they would have done more to convince them to stay.’ To say that I was staggered at the gullibility and the ignorance of P1 is an understatement. Again, I could not help myself, asking if P1 understood the difference between the EU and the UN (United Nations), and suggested that it might be worthwhile if P1 Googled both of these. Unfortunately, the ignorant are out there in droves. Apart from the lies on the sides of buses during the Brexit Referendum campaign, in which it was bogusly stated that $350 million was sent to the EU every week3,4, the assertion that the UK was not independent is simply ludicrous. They were no less independent than any other nation in the EU. Then there were the simplistic lies that were told by the right-wing press designed to frighten the gullible, everything from the curvature of bananas, to the banning of milk jugs, that Euro currency notes make you impotent, to cows having to wear nappies4. Perhaps the most notorious lie was Farage’s poster showing many brown people in a queue with the title ‘breaking point’. This was designed to appeal to the xenophobes and racists among his ‘flock’. The story put out that the UK had no control over its borders was also untrue4.
While many right-wing commentators bemoaned the characterisation of many brexiters as ‘incoherent, nostalgic, gullible and scared of diversity’, and stated that these characterisations have been debunked, the activities of many of them show that they were just that. Some of the quotes from the Brexit party in Parliament square and elsewhere were hilarious and indicate that many of the brexiters were indeed out of their depth in understanding what they were dealing with, while some other quotes were chilling. Here are a few. “We need our infrastructure back.” “Our court laws will be changing to ours, so we have what a say [sic] in what goes on in this country. Human rights and everything will be turned into our laws and our courts will have the right to say what goes instead of Germany.” “Two World Wars One Referendudum [sic]”. “As we finally have our great country back we feel there is one rule that needs to be made clear… We do not tolerate people speaking other languages [sic] than English in the flats.”5
At the party in parliament square when Big Ben didn’t strike 11.00pm, Nigel Farage urged other countries to leave the EU, to become “free nation states, trading, co-operating”. As Tom Peck said, Farage wants to go back to the old days, and try to ignore that those old days are absolutely drenched in blood. Preventing those old days ever coming back is the precise reason the EU came into being5.
I highly recommend Ian McEwan’s novella the Cockroach. A bit of Metamorphosis in reverse. The best analysis of Brexit I have read. It also applies to much of the politics in the Anglosphere at the moment. I’ll just give a small quote from the last couple of pages, from a final speech delivered by the BoJo equivalent character in the story.
“As you have seen it is not easy to be Homo sapiens sapiens. Their desires are so often in contention with their intelligence. Unlike us who are whole. You have each put a human shoulder to the wheel of populism.You have seen the fruits of your labour, for that wheel is beginning to turn.”
I’ll have to give it a burl.
and there ain’t no vaccine for the Dunning-Kruger virus. (‘sad’ emoji)