I doubt that you will find a better summation of the delusions still gripping the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom than this piece written for the Reaction by the Irish-born journalist and author Walter Ellis. As the unionist-raised columnist explains, many leading Brexiteers in the UK are convinced that the country’s negotiations with the European Union would have taken a very different path if the British had insisted from day one that they:
…wanted out of the Single Market and the Customs Union at the earliest possible moment, with no transition period, no divorce bill, no compromise on British fishing rights and Absolutely-No-Freedom-of- Movement.
The talks would have been wrapped up by Christmas. The EU, impressed by our bulldog spirit, would have put the relevant machinery in place, and come next spring Liam Fox could have embarked on a round-the-world cruise aboard HMS Global Britain, loading up on trade agreements with the U.S, China, India, Japan, South Korea and – once they had recovered from their humiliation – a grateful European Union.
…tariff-free, frictionless trade with Europe would have been put in place within 12 months of Brexit, allowing sales of BMWs and Prosecco to resume within, oh, a matter of weeks, or even days. In the meantime, by way of simple give and take, there would be no massive build-up of lorries at Dover and Calais. Drivers would roll on and roll off exactly as they do now. Airline schedules would be unaffected. British travellers, brandishing their shiny blue passports, would step off aircraft in Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Ibiza secure in the knowledge that they would be admitted “without let or hindrance” by the relevant authorities.
But it would not be a one-way street. As proof of our magnanimity in victory, Britain would have offered to take over the management of European security, possibly by way of a European Security Agency, based in London, while further benefiting our friends caught on the wrong side of the Channel by generously maintaining our participation in Europol, the European Space Agency, Euratom, Erasmus and Galileo.
Within five years, the revitalised, Bojovian economy would be growing at a rate not known since … well, since we joined the European Union. Our navy would patrol the world’s oceans, the Prince of Wales would re-energise the Commonwealth and the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland would rejoice in their continued membership of a truly United Kingdom.
That really is it. An entire political movement built upon an unassailable belief in British exceptionalism, and the inevitability of a resurgent Greater England coupled to a mercantile Empire 2.0 that the nations of the Earth would flock to. Which explains, at least in part, the reluctance of so many ardent Brexiteers to countenance the loss of any mastery over their colonial outpost on the island of Ireland when revanchism, the retaking of lost territories, lies at the heart of their ideological project. Which gives a rather different meaning to the Leave campaign slogan, “We want our country back”.
Talking of the Six County parastate, the Democratic Unionist Party continues with its madcap plan to secure the “union” with Britain by establishing a bridge between this island and our wayward neighbour to the east. Here’s the DUP MP Paul Girvan in PoliticsHome at least being honest about his party’s monumental insecurity complex:
As a unionist there will always be an attraction in seeing a physical connection between Northern Ireland and Great Britain…
I’m just waiting for the next suggestion – filling in the Irish Sea?