Self-inflicted Brexit wound

If you’re reading this in the United Kingdom, then you’re in a very uncertain place right now.

I was in Berlin the night Die Mauer was smashed to bits by a jubilant crowd.

As I wandered down Kurfürstendamm in the early morning I knew that Europe had changed and ipso facto so had the world.

The vote by the people of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union is no less epochal for Europe than the end of the Cold War.

On the morning of the EU referendum I called a journalist buddy in the UK and asked him how he thought it would go, and he said that it would be a vote for Remain.

He sounded a bit downbeat, and then he told me that his voting preference was for Leave.

Now I know him well, and I’m convinced that there isn’t a xenophobic molecule in him.

There was a left wing pluralist case for Brexit, but that voice wasn’t heard during the campaign.

Instead, this vote is being celebrated across Europe by the far right.

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen in France and the Freedom Party in Austria were punching the air at Nigel Farage’s finest hour.

If the ‘Brexiteers’ thought that an amicable divorce could be arranged then they may have miscalculated.

The City of London is central to the solvency of UK limited.

Once the ‘workshop of the world’ Britain is now home to Hedge Funds.

On Friday morning the markets were in turmoil and Sterling hit a thirty year low.

HSBC have already announced that they will move 1000 jobs to Paris from London in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Perhaps they know something nasty is coming down the pipe dear reader.

It looks like the HSBC announcement was just the start.

 “You’re looking at 50,000 to 70,000 London finance jobs being moved overseas in the next 12 months”.

I am aware of one senior chap in the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin who is anticipating an influx of highly qualified jobs from the Square Mile.

The Eurocrats are waiting for the British government to formally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

That article is structured, ironically, to prevent the EU from kicking out a member state.

Hence the two-year period for the member state to finally exit.

The triggering of Article 50 will now be down to the next British Prime Minister.

As Cameron announced his departure to the assembled hacks at Downing Street I have to admit I thought he looked pig sick.

The new chap in Number Ten might be one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (Eton and Balliol College Oxford).


He is tipped to succeed his long-time rival David William Donald Cameron (Eton and Brasenose College Oxford).

These two Bullingdon boys just never got on apparently.


The Brexiteers made much of the fact that they were against ‘the establishment’.

Millions of poor people, especially in England and Wales actually believed them.

The Leave/ Remain vote in the UK, especially in England, was based on age and educational attainment.

The young Metropolitan graduate was highly likely to be a Remain voter and the older working class person was heavily on the Leave side.

The latter person was crucial in winning the Labour heartlands in Northern England for Brexit.

Although there was a perfectly laudable set of reasons for a British person to vote Leave, there were some who voted for utterly disgusting motives.

Racism and xenophobia were the subtexts for voting Leave in many working class communities, especially in England.

Even the death of Jo Cox MP did not seem to give pause to that nasty nativist reflex.

Now all is changed, changed utterly.

A terrible idiocy is born.

Since the vote was announced the British Prime Minister has resigned and it is a mark of the importance of the Brexit vote that it hasn’t been the lead item of news.

Yesterday morning it was clear that the Parliamentary Labour Party was in the process of imploding.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already shown she has a clearer understanding of the changing situation better than anyone else in the UK political village.

Scotland voted strongly for Remain with not a single local authority area voting for Leave.

Consequently, the vanquished ‘Indy’ side in 2014 think that deliverance is at hand.

Well, I don’t want to piss on anyone’s pudding supper, but in IndyRef 1 Scotland the Brave ™, to use the vernacular totally shat it.

Their famous resolve quietly fucked off when they were ever so mildly leant on by the Etonian tribe.

Project Fear was able to make a lot of Scots obediently feart in 2014.

Moreover, it wasn’t that difficult.

I wasn’t surprised and said so at the time to some of the leading folk in the ‘Yes’ side when I was there during the final weeks of the campaign.

You can find my reports on Slugger O’Toole.

I believe that the Westminster polity, outside of the EU, would face an existential crisis if Scotland formally left the Union.

In that scenario, the Etonian chaps can get a lot more frightening if they need to be.

Living on a Border county on my island I don’t have to travel very far to sit down and chat with folk who have direct life experience of the viciousness of the British political elite.

In the Six Counties, the vote was to Remain with nationalists heavily on that side of the debate.

Some of the Unionist community also voted Remain despite the pro-Brexit stance advocacy of the DUP and First Minister Arlene Foster.

Unsurprisingly Sinn Féin has called for a Border Poll, but they are unlikely to get it, and it would almost certainly be lost.

Before such a plebiscite is warranted there would have to be near unanimity among voters from a nationalist persuasion and there isn’t.

Moreover, a sizeable minority of voters from the Unionist tradition would have to be prepared to vote for the culturally unthinkable.

We’re not there yet.

Not even close in my view.

However, I understand why Sinn Féin have made this play, but that’s all that it is.

At the start of this campaign, I wrote about ‘looking over the hedge’ into the United Kingdom from my Border county vantage point.

I hope that I am not proved to be prescient about the outworking of Brexit in my own little corner.

In the meantime, the post office in Belfast ran out of application forms for Irish passports, and Ian Paisley Junior tweeted that he was available to facilitate his constituents getting one of these.

Unchartered waters indeed!

The Eurocrats face the possibility of an unravelling domino effect of exit votes if the Brits are given an amicable divorce.

Therefore it is essential for them that the UK is seen to suffer for their Brexit vote,

pour encourager les autres…

In retrospect, the British had rather a good deal inside the EU, outside of the Eurozone and outside of Schengen.

Prime Minister Cameron’s career has ended in catastrophic ignominy in a fashion not seen since Anthony Eden in the aftermath of the Suez crisis in 1956.

People don’t change much, but generations do.

Many of the Brexit folk are now in their seventies, but once they were the young people who looked at newsreels in cinemas and crammed around the telly in the neighbour’s front room.

No doubt many of them would have been suitably proud as the Paras landed in Port Said to teach the Egyptians a lesson.

Their world view was as black and white as the images on the TV screen.

To be British in 1956 was to be in a world of comforting certainties.

However, the chap in the Oval Office had to remind London and Paris that they weren’t major league players anymore.

After World War Two the first truly global imperium was already terminally ill, but 1956 was the year that the death certificate was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Consequently, the British Baby Boomers dealt with puberty and changing fashions amid the collapsing scenery of the British Empire.

Now in their old age they ‘want their country back’.

The irony did not escape me that on the day of the Brexit victory Donald Trump landed in Britain.

There was definitely a Famine Song vibe to a lot of the Leave campaigning, especially in erstwhile Labour heartlands in the North of England.

Somewhere along the line the English working class got a bit fleggish.

In one survey, 80% of Leave voters agreed with the statement that multiculturalism, immigration and social liberalism was “a force for ill”.

[Source. Lord Ashcroft Polls]

From my vantage point, Brexit seems like an act of political self-harming on a massive scale by the people of the United Kingdom.

The victory for Leave was a toxic cocktail of racism and weapons-grade stupidity of the precariat in English sink estates which was then carefully nurtured by privileged sociopaths.

High on imperial hooch, the Cross of St George tribe thinks that the fondly remembered monoculture of their early childhood can come back.

It can’t and I’m glad about that.

That was the England that my late father contributed to by working in the construction sector. Throughout his time there he saw the ‘no Irish need apply’ signs.

Multi-cultural London voted to Remain, but they were voted down by the rest of England.

I cannot see any good outcomes for the people of the United Kingdom from any of this, but I sincerely hope that I’m wrong.

Moreover, I believe that this gaping Brexit wound will hurt all of us in these conjoined islands for the rest of our lives.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion