In a recent article for the press agency Reuters, the British commentator John Lloyd has poured scorn on the widely held belief that the Brexit movement in Britain is being partly driven by imperial nostalgia among a subset of the electorate in Greater England. According to the veteran journalist “…no body of opinion, no organization, no individual capable of thought wants an empire” reestablished. Yet London’s withdrawal talks with its partners in the European Union were initially characterised by an almost breathtaking degree of imperial arrogance on its part. An arrogance which did not dissipate until the representatives of Downing Street and Whitehall realised that their counterparts in Brussels and the capitals of Western Europe had no intention of allowing a self-declared third party country to retain all the benefits of EU membership while rejecting all of its obligations.
Lloyd himself seems almost wilfully disingenuous when he claims that Brexit is:
…not bloody revolution – the violence, frightening as it is, has been largely confined to buildings and cars.
Tell that to the family of the slain Labour Party MP Jo Cox, murdered by a far-right activist because of her pro-European campaigning during the referendum of 2016. Or to the many others in Britain from the Remain side or among minority communities who have suffered verbal and physical violence and intimidation since the plebiscite. As for rejecting allegations of imperial-style ignorance among opinionmakers in the UK, note John Lloyd’s view from a previous article with Reuters that the partition border in Ireland separates:
…4.7 million Irish citizens in the south and west from over 1.8 million British citizens in the northeast of the island
Except, those 1.8 million British citizens are also Irish citizens under an international treaty between London and Dublin, and are entitled to express whichever nationality – or nationalities – they wish. Which is the very Backstop Knot that some in Brexit Britain – including unionist-apologists – would gladly take a sword to and to hell with the consequences.