Current Affairs Politics

The Brexit Empire And The Reuters’ Columnist John Lloyd

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.

24 comments on “The Brexit Empire And The Reuters’ Columnist John Lloyd

  1. While John Lloyd certainly came across as obnoxious, I have to say the whole idea that most of these Brexiteers are really dreaming for the British Empire back…..makes me a little skeptical.

    Not that Brexit was ever a good idea. It’s not.

    But it seems to me there is a profound difference between displaying what could at minimum look like colonial arrogance, and literally wanting to start setting up British Govt offices in Dublin, Calcutta, Nairobi, (New York City?) etc once again.

    I’d draw a distinction between how the Brexiteers act (even if it’s shitty and inexcusable), what most of them actually want, and the likely outcomes of their plans.

    For example, during much of my life I’ve been confronted with Confederate flag, slogans, or Confederate monuments (sometimes in areas that weren’t even part of the CSA), and more. It’s taken “some work” not to get destructively angry at some of these people. Obviously this stuff is a lot more “front on”, overt, and in much of the US widespread than anything I’ve ever heard from The English about wanting that Empire back.

    Despite the front on nature of that stuff, I’ve never mistaken it for a real desire to live in an alternate history where The South won the war. Most of them know damn well that an independent CSA would be a disaster (despite the fact that many don’t want to admit just how poor and in some cases reluctant to fight their ancestors were). It’s really just a way of playing their stupid power games. Few adults think this “South will Rise again” stuff is sincere let alone realistic.

    I would tend to take any Empire 2.0 notions in the same vein. There’s no way they are going to reconquer Ireland in total these days. Let alone, India, half of Africa, parts of China and the US. Even if some of them are harboring “Empire 2.0” notions, I’d suspect it was more a vehicle for some other games….

    ….and these days most countries seem to be struggling with extreme elements. Not just countries that once ruled 40% of humanity.

    • Yes Grace, I agree that there is no way that Great Britain will take over the world again.

      But that doesn’t stop them thinking they can and therein lies the danger. And it’s that mindset that’s causing all the chaos just now where for example there are those who would have Ireland back in the fold, would tell the EUwhat to do, and would wreck their economy trying to do so.

      But don’t take my opinion on it. Take the word of the UK defence secretary Gavin Williams who very recently in launching new forward military bases around the world declared that now was Britain’s greatest opportunity on the world stage since the Second World War.

      Fighting talk don’t you think and maybe, given half a chance, a few of the new much trumpeted Great British stealth fighters into action to quell some poor tribesmen to show the might of a resurgent imperial Britannia. And that’s the difference, the CSA didn’t have stealth fighters, an arsenal of weaponry and bombs and missiles reaching up to nuclear weapons – but the U.K. does.

      • I don’t dispute that the behavior you are seeing from much of the British Govt, several politicians, and major portions of the Brexiteer voters is off the scales rotten.

        But the fact is, that former empires and even wannabee empires don’t have some kind of monopoly on bellicosity, arrogance and treating their neighbors or allies like garbage.

        For example, Mussolini invoked the Roman Empire in his propaganda quite a bit. But having a major alliance with a more powerful Germany would make all that, a little hard to take too literally.

        Not to mention the fact that “crazy” in terms of politicians or political measures appears to be a massive global epidemic. For example, that madman Jair Bolsonaro is perhaps the craziest of the lot. And Brazil doesn’t really have a past with a global Empire to look back upon fondly. The big exception to the rule (that proves the rule?) is Mexico’s new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador-a truly lovely man, but whether he’s as effective as hoped remains to be seen.

        Unfortunately every country on the planet that has elections at all-whether they are a former Empire-or not, has either elected “crazy” in the past few years or had a close brush with it. India (the former crown jewel) has its issues with all those crazy right winged Hindu nationalists.

        Whatever is causing this global epidemic I don’t know. And I can’t read people’s minds obviously.

        But I have to say the “They want the British Empire” back doesn’t quite ring true.

        They clearly don’t like it when Ireland has any say in their Brexit negotiations. Some of them seem prejudiced against Irish nationals. But does that mean they would actually want to rule Ireland again? If anything they seem willing to drop the North if it was convenient to the Brexiteers.

        I agree the CSA didn’t have modern 20th/21st century weapons back in the 1860’s. However it was pretty destructive for an entity that lasted under 5 years. And those who still fly its flags are as much of an albatross to an American progressive, liberal, labor unionist, feminist, or anti-war protester as the DUP is to an Irish Republican. I’m still not taking the actual flags too literally.

  2. The infatuation of Irish and Scottish Nationalists with the E.U. has always puzzled me : one would think that the latter organisation would be an anathema to them, but apparently not. Sinn Fein were, of course, once an E.U.-sceptic party, but the Brexit crisis would appear to have wrought a change in attitude, indeed a double somersault , not just in the ranks of the Shinners, but in the minds of certain institutions and commentators as well.
    I voted Leave based on a cold-blooded analysis of the E.U., its structures and institutions, its effect on the people it rules and the type of individual it promotes. I paid no attention to the torrent of propaganda produced by both the Remain and Leave campaigns, in fact I would say that I heartily loathe most of the people who held leadership positions on the Leave side. I imagine that most of those who voted Remain may not have been overly fond of Cameron or Osborne. I have no objection to immigration and harbour no nostalgia for the British Empire or the 1950s.
    I came to the conclusion that the E.U. was/is an unnecessary, expensive and fundamentally undemocratic political ponzi scheme. As a dim-witted northern Irish Leave voter I was particularly gratified to have up with the latter pithy conclusion, So just yesterday I decided to google “Is the E.U. a political Ponzi scheme,” in the hope that greater minds than I would have come to a similar conclusion. I found that, of course, they had and among those promoting, or expressing such a view were some surprising institutions and individuals. In 2011, for example, the Financial Times published an article by a former central banker in both Argentina and Britain entitled, “Europe is running a giant Ponzi Scheme,” the latter publication is now, of course, a bastion of Remainerism. Even more surprisingly my google brought up an article in an Irish blog dated December 11, 2015 entitled “The European Union, a Political Pyramid Scheme”, in which the author castigates the E.U. and its officials in a most vitriolic manner, having obviously come to the same conclusions as myself. Who published this scathing analysis, why none other than “An sionnach Fionn!!”

    • “The infatuation of Irish and Scottish Nationalists with the E.U. has always puzzled me”

      I don’t know why it should puzzle you Ginger.

      It’s quite straightforward –

      Better by far gallant allies in Europe by your side than Perfidious Albion in Westminster exploiting you to the max!

      • Agreed Ben.

        I think it’s fair for ASF to be critical as many of us are about aspects of the EU without wanting Brexit, or Brexit. And to be willing to accept the existence of the EU is not to be an EUphile either come to think of it.

        Like him I’d be antagonistic in the extreme to a federal EU, or to a European army, or at least Irish participation in same. If some subset of EU states engage in NATO I don’t like it, but that is their sovereign decision. Similarly if there are some structures that emerge as long as the ROI or a UI can remain apart as does Austria etc that would be acceptable to a certain degree (that’s a live issue though and I could envisage a context where it might be necessary to leave the EU then but that point isn’t here now).

        Given the areas that it assists in usefully, inter European trade, travel, funding for R&D, inter European scientific projects and so on it seems pretty inexpensive with a fairly small number of people working directly for it all things considered. As to a Ponzi scheme more broadly, are you eliding financial aspects relating to the ECB and eurozone in particular with the EU as an institution. There’s no question that the ECB and eurozone have been problematic during the last decade in particular but that does not per se reflect necessarily on the EU or invalidate the idea of the EU.

        There’s a point some commentators, I think of Richard North in particular, who are eurosceptic and support the UK outside the EU but are deeply hostile to the process of this Brexit, particularly the Tory led aspects of it. And that is that the EU does perform necessary functions. If there was no EU tomorrow in order to facilitate the areas above that I’ve mentioned it would be necessary to create a new entity and that in doing so would also necessitate many of the compromises and issues regarding competencies, sovereignty and so forth. Essentially it is impossible for nation states to function in this world without accepting a degree of pooling or diminution of sovereignty. In the North the manner in which Irish and British sovereignty is blunted by the processes of the GFA, means that it is compromised=. That’s something that is acceptable and tolerable in order to allow for an agreed context – at least to most, though some will differ. Similarly not dissimilar compromises are necessary between states – this happens all the way up to the UN and all the way back down to engagement between say regional governments in different states that border one anther. There’s nothing particularly malign or problematic about this. The issue is when people try to pretend that it is other than it actually is or that no compromise is necessary. The history of Brexit this last year and a half show how delusionary all this is in terms of how people will not even engage with the realities that the May deal, for all its faults, at least tries to square the circles. Frankly I hope the May deal goes through bad and all as it is because there’s much worse for Britain and this island in the form of a no-deal Brexit and I’m unconvinced that the referendum was lacking in legitimacy sufficient to allow for a rerun in less than five or ten years.

        • Honestly Brexit might not have been so bad if they had gone with a Turkish model with Northern Cypress as a partial model for Northern Ireland and preserving the GFA. Or a Norweigan model.

          I definitely agree that the EU shouldn’t be “about” replacing or routinely overriding Democratically elected Govts.

  3. Yep, and I remain an ardent Brussels-critic, an anti-federalist, and believe that the EU institutions are lacking in full accountability and democratic control. But being a Euroreformer is quite different from being a Brexiteer. Or Irexiteer. The latter are self-harming positions. I don’t forgive the EU for Lisbon I and II or the Troika. But I started my political life as a Europhile and though that has been knocked and dented it has not left me yet. Despite Brussels rather than because of it. Or the various EU nation-state governments who have failed to bring in reform for their own selfish reasons.

    Reform not breakup!

    • Whoa! Dude! I did not put my customary “like” on. How racist is that image? If I do an article on Ireland am I going to stick a toothless culchie or jackeen on holding a flag? Have a word with yourself!

      • Ach now, did the picture of the toothless jackass with the Saint George flag not provide a stereotype of how many of us see the English nationalists.

        But maybe I am wrong, Maybe our flag bearer with dental deficiencies was a fine chap and totally unrepresentative of the Great British nation we perceive. They can’t all look as handsome as him.

        Personally I thought he had a familial similarity to the Right Honourable Arelene Foster.

        But let us look behind the cover and the deeds and actions of our dearest neighbours.

    • I’ve heard one reform proposal that while perhaps not the whole solutions sounded kind of interesting.

      To basically put EU policy into tiers. Instead of giving Brussels so much power to regulate, regulate, and regulate some more, have the different degree of EU stuff more “layered”.

      The bottom layer would be the basic “common-market” which is pretty much yesterday’s homework. Some nations like Norway or Turkey get a most of those benefits without even being a full member. The second to bottom tier would involve matters related to the common market and a few other rather basic things like transit regulations, dry-as-toast infrastructure or water related regulations. These can be passed by the EU Parliament, but individual nations would be able to get at least partial exemptions from some rules if they provide a compelling enough reason. The middle layer would involve a wider variety of things and includes stuff that starts to get more important to various member nations. And in that case it would require not just for the EU Parliament to pass it, but also a minimum percentage of EU member states to sign on directly, before it becomes law. But exemptions would be harder to get. The layer just above the top would require nations to negotiate directly with the EU and each other as separate entities. And the top layer would require them to negotiate as if separate nations entirely and to have negotiations where even some non-member countries can be present.

    • P.S. . Loved the cartoon which accompanied the article : The E.U. characterised as a neo- fascist thug bullying poor little Ireland. Even I wouldn’t have went that far. I think the trajectory of the E.U. project is very clear and I don’t share your confidence that it can be reformed. I consider myself to be a total Europhile, I’m just not an E.U.ophile, the conflation of European-ness with the E.U. is something I find deeply disturbing, being anti-E.U. is not being anti-Europe, quite the opposite. But then I think you made precisely the same point.

  4. “But it seems to me there is a profound difference between displaying what could at minimum look like colonial arrogance, and literally wanting to start setting up British Govt offices in Dublin, Calcutta, Nairobi, (New York City?) etc once again.”
    You missed the British Government offices in Edinburgh, capital of England’s most lucrative colony, without which, England would be bankrupt.

  5. The author of this article has bought the Brit state propaganda bait, hook, line and sinker……….as well as its psyops. First thing I tell my kids is, don’t believe everything you hear and most certainly don’t believe everything the State wants you to believe.

    “All the world is a stage……..the people are but actors…….some actors play many parts”
    P.s did everyone enjoy the Owen Jones/soubry faux outrage psyop? I have seen better productions at school nativity plays!

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