It is surely not irrelevant that for many left-wing Britons, ‘Europe’ exercises a grip on the imagination similar to that of the Soviet Union on the Philby generation at Cambridge in the 1930’s. Nor is it illegitimate to seek a parallel between the apologias for the Soviet Union issued by the British intelligentsia in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and today’s wilful closing of intellectual eyes to the realities of ‘Europe’. The left-wing fellow travellers of the 1930’s constantly made unfavourable comparisons between Britain and the supposed paradise to the east. Today, the same is true of the British Euroenthusiasts. The head of the Commission’s representative office in Britain, for instance, seems to view ceaseless denigration of his own country as the most effective way of selling ‘Europe’ to his fellow Britons.
– Bernard Connolly, from The Rotten Heart of Europe (1995), Introduction, p xvii
The ‘left-wing’ Britons to whom Connolly refers are les faux gauchers, the Negative Nationalists, who denigrate anything British in favour of anything ‘European’, whether that be food, drink or just arty-farty foreign language films over any Anglophone ones. They are self-loathing Britons who have never forgiven themselves the unpardonable sin of having been born on an offshore island of their favourite continent. They are fools, incapable of judging anything on its merit; they are the mirror image of the Little Britons they claim to differ from. They even continue to extol the ‘virtues’ of European Monetary Union, despite the shockingly high youth unemployment in Southern Europe that has resulted from that failed experiment. So when you are told that hundreds of economists oppose Brexit, these are largely the same ones that told us that we must join the Euro. At this juncture I have to say that I don’t necessarily share many of Connolly’s political views, but he is one of only a small number of economists (including Roger Bootle and Liam Halligan) left with any degree of credibility following the financial crash of eight years ago.
I’d like to think that I have an international outlook in life. I’m happy to defer that most of the best beers in the world come from Belgium, a result of trade dating back centuries between the hop growers of Kent and the monasteries of Flanders. We didn’t need a ‘European Union’ then and we don’t now. (I still think the best cider in the world comes from Somerset though). There are many French films, arty-farty or otherwise, that are pretty good, though some are based on ‘hommage’ to American genres (Mesrine, for example, starring Vincent Cassel, is a superb two-part gangster movie). I’d rate Italy as my favourite country to visit for an autumn holiday, something which will still be possible whether or not the EU exists and if it does whether we are part of it; and there is a world beyond Europe of course – Montreal, with at least a day in Quebec City, being a great place to visit in the summer – though you’d never believe it from the endless stream of EU propaganda we have pushed at us.
All of this is by way of introduction to Brexit, The Animated Movie, which is succinct and far, far better than the over-hyped, but underwhelming, lengthy piece written and presented by Martin Durkin, weighted down as that is by political fossils such as Nigel Lawson and John Redwood. It was Lawson’s previous fixation with maintaining a fixed exchange rate between the pound and the Deutsche Mark (as detailed in Chapter 3 of Connolly’s book), which was one of the principal reasons behind the Tory boom and bust, referred to in the previous blog post.
Where I depart from the synopsis in this short film is over NATO, which shares with the EU the same expansionist policies in The Great Game, as has been apparent from the destabilisation of Ukraine, which was always previously in the Russian sphere of influence.
Finally, those of us well into middle-age, the pissed-off post-boomer tax slaves, old enough to have voted in 1992, when we should have had a referendum, but too young to have voted in 1975, need to appreciate that the millennials have a totally different outlook to us. We have to stress to them that the ‘European Union’ may have been an appropriate concept in the 20th Century, but that in the era of the World Wide Web – invented by a resourceful Brit working at CERN in Geneva (not in the EU) – international commerce does not depend on geographical proximity. We can trade with any other country in the world without having to seek permission from bureaucrats in Brussels. Oh and not everything about Brussels is bad, yes it does have awful traffic pollution, but if you are a comic book geek, it is the place to go to; and those little cafes near the Grand Place where the waiter brings you a beer menu and serves you your special beer in a special glass are one of the hallmarks of European civilisation. Another Europe is possible, let’s start by demerging the EU and bringing democracy back to the nations of Europe.