To my British Friends

At the time of writing, your parliament has rejected the latest version of the Brexit deal, just before also rejecting the idea that the United Kingdom may leave the EU without any agreement. Well. But the point is, as you know, that there is no such thing as a better version of a Brexit deal, so your MPs are simply steering the UK towards a dead-end. Individually or as members of the X/Y fraction within this or that party, there may be rationales behind these votes. But when you put all these guys together and gather their collective opinion, to-date, they just look like a bunch of idiots.

Throughout the process initiated after the Brexit vote, there has been many of these WTF-moments, from Nigel Farage admitting that after all there’d be no way the UK could fund its NHS with the savings it would make from its EU contributions, via British politicians pretending they’d just figured out the country had to fulfill its financial commitments – a check-out bill of several tens of billions of Euros, all the way to today’s situation.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Channel and all over the continent, many have been shaking their heads, there’s been many voices whining – « how can that be? » – and, at this point in time, considering the hole at the bottom of which the British political world is sitting, some are starting to dream of a new scenario: there would be no Brexit at all, at the end of the day. Because the UK government would end-up withdrawing its « article 50 » claim, leading to a second Brexit vote when British voters would finally turn reasonable and express a clear « no », this time. That may be a plausible scenario, or pure wishful thinking, but why considering it, in the first place? It’s very simple: because these dreamers would miss the UK in tomorrow’s European Union.

That’s why I have to ask myself: will I miss you, in MY tomorrow’s Europe? I’m afraid short-term  I won’t, really sorry to say that.

Really sorry, no kidding. Because I have to confess that I have a lot of admiration and respect for Great Britain, for its people, for its arts, for its deep culture and history. Not only because I claim to be a Celt, but also because your past and your present shout that without the UK, there is a blank on the European map. As a European, I do claim Shakespeare, Purcell, the Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, George VI and The Beatles, Peter Sellers and T.E. Lawrence, Arnold Toynbee and the Monty Pythons, David Lean and Ken Loach, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mr Bean… and so many others… to be part of my history, my heritage. And without the vibrancy of today’s UK – which capital city mayor’s name and descent is a welcome slap in many annoying faces, Europe seems dull. Britain’s footprint on the cultural area I belong to – Europe, more than a so-called « West » – is simply enormous. And no-one should forget about how critical the brave, stubborn fight of the British nation(s) has been to the eventual ass-kicking of Adolf Hitler. But also: Britain’s colonial past – and everything that came with it, including the mess UK built and left behind in the Middle-East and the Indian sub-continent  – makes also this country European, in my and many people’s eyes around the world, just like France’s, The Netherlands’, Spain’s, Portugal’s, Germany’s colonial pasts and their respective messy legacies, like it or not. For all these reasons, I will miss you and I think  that  you should be missed. Big time.


But let’s face it: when it comes to the European Union as such, your presence over almost half-a-century has been a pain-in-the-butt, not to say a disaster. Your representatives at the European institutions, be they Labour or Tories, be they from the British government or members of the European Parliament, have relentlessly managed to cap Europe’s political build-up to the minimum, getting in the way of any reform that would allow more efficient decision-making at European level, advocating for more countries to join and, more importantly, since the Thatcher era: they have been at the forefront of spreading the Gospel of Europe as a giant free-trade area where 1) Public spending , whatever it’s for, stands for the Evil;  2)  Privatization and limitless competition stand for the Good; 3) Nations, as they are, shall remain the ultimate decision-makers when it comes to taxes and social welfare. I.e., a multi-country organization where money, jobs and goods are free to circulate but where nations and geographies de facto cannot be on a level playground for the regulation of the economy: more harmonization would be described as « oppressive » vis-a-vis nations’ sovereignty. As a result, social- and fiscal dumping turns out being the best option for any « new » European nation to make a difference, fostering de-localization and job losses anywhere else. Thus today’s Europe is a construction  that generates uncertainty, anger, suspicion and, ultimately, drives voters towards radical choices all over the place: Fidesz in Hungary, 5-Stellas/Lega in Italy, Front/Rassemblement National in France, AfD in Germany… UKiP and eventually Brexit in the UK. Today’s Europe – notwithstanding other country leaders’ blindness and cynicism – is, for most part, British politics’ « thing ». Brexit: that’s the story of this guy you’ve invited to a party, screws it up and leaves you with the mess, without even saying a proper goodbye. For all these reasons, you shouldn’t be missed, you should be kindly asked not to vote again, to pack-up your gear and get the fuck out of here.

From there – hoping the damage is not done for good – other Europeans may have a chance to build a fairer, smarter – smaller? – European sovereign body with a « critical mass », in a position to have a real say Vs entities like the US, Russia or China – which no European nation in isolation can even dream of. 

This said, without you, this enhanced version of the European original project will have an incomplete soul.

Those who today complain about you leaving may whine further, but I bet they will miss more your assumed finance-/tax haven-/business-friendliness than what you really are, as a people. As far as I am concerned, I’d be glad to have you back, once your politicians realize that the British empire is gone, that there is more to aspire to than a free-trade world where corporations make incremental business day after day, at any human, social and environmental cost. When they get over their nostalgia of times when Britain used to shape the world. Or when you stop electing such arrogant pricks (don’t get me wrong, I know we also have ours, on the continent). One day, maybe.

« We alone », in Gaelic, says « Sinn Fein ». The name of the political party that led the struggle for Irish freedom. That contributed to build an Ireland that now embraces Europe, as an idea. So there may be hope. « You alone » may need company, eventually.

Friendly Yours,

2 réflexions sur “To my British Friends

  1. Pingback: Abécédaire de Fainéant (2) | Helvetia Atao!

  2. Pingback: To my Russian Friends | Helvetia Atao!

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