Michael Gove in The Times today waffles on incoherently about the post Brexit opportunities for Britain. Well one of the architects of Brexit would say all this wouldn’t he ? But it’s bunkum – none of the fictitious “benefits” of Brexit Gove lists is substantial or even true. Just vague pseudo-patriotic puffery revealed in those oft-repeated words “Take Back Control”. The truth, an alien concept to this man and his cohorts, is that we never lost it.
The “deal” announced with such self-congratulatory bombast illustrates why no nation , and certainly no European nation, is independent in the modern world. The deal restricts Britain’s freedoms and constrains our independence of action. It is Brino – Brexit in name only – if by Brexit you mean taking back control as Gove claims here.
The 21st Century world is interdependent like never before. In Europe partners created a structure to both acknowledge this interdependence and to further it. “Ever closer Union” – the antithesis of “Take Back Control” – does involve some surrender of sovereignty but does that make any one of the 30 nations either in the EU or closely allied to it any less of a nation? Of course not.
Michel Barnier described the “deal” as being “Lose/Lose” and, of course, he was right. Europe and Britain are both the poorer for it. Those of us who have travelled extensively across mainland Europe and the continent’s more geographically disconnected members (all in the EU) do so to relish the differences. Countries like (say) Finland and Croatia are no less Finnish nor Croatian for being in the EU. And nor was Britain if only we’d seen it.
EU membership gave we Brits benefits unthinkable to previous generations. The right to live, work and travel freely across thirty countries should never have been surrendered. There is no more symbolic representation of Union than this – but it is so much more. Economically, socially, culturally and emotionally the “Four Freedoms” said, rightly, that no modern man is an island entire in itself. And nor is the nation of which he is a citizen.
After 1st January the only way is up. But the medium term outcomes of Brexit look extremely hazardous for the United Kingdom. The viability of Scotland as an independent nation in the EU is very much enhanced by Brexit. The EU27 won’t have to dig too deeply into their pockets to smooth the way. It will happen. No doubt the Welsh will do the same. And if the Northern Irish can bury their sectarian differences, as they did when they signed the Good Friday Agreement, then a reunited independent Ireland is another certain outcome.
So what of Little England ? Sad, silly and adrift we will be a museum of the past. Clinging on to our past “triumphs” waving a flag of a Union that no longer exists and in terminal decline. The Celts will soon forget us, they never liked us much anyway.