Cheer up Britannia, Brexit is coming

Cheer up Britannia, Brexit is coming. Can John King be writing this? As regular readers of my posts will know, I belong to the ‘Stay Angry and Fight Brexit’ school. And I still hope and pray that this madness can be averted.

All the same, in my more sombre moments, I sometimes wonder if we are clutching at straws. Even if we could turn back now, the Brexiters would cry betrayal for ever more. According to the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, many Remainers in parliament are privately wishing for disaster. Bound and gagged by the three line whip, they reflect grimly that Britain will have to learn the hard way.

Out of the ashes of cataclysmic devastation, by this calculation, a new Britain could arise like a phoenix, resolved never to make the same mistakes again. It is a scenario recalling not only Germany but also ancient Rome, whose Emperor Claudius, surrounded on all sides by perversion and foolishness, could only mutter “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out”.

But what if the country’s demise were relatively painless? What if the unacceptable gradually became the norm? It is a fact that with many serious types of sickness – and Brexit is a sickness – other people see a deterioration first, whilst the sufferer is mercifully oblivious. 

When an aeroplane descends from 30,000 feet to 5,000 feet, the passengers may not even notice, though it’s very obvious to the air traffic controller on his screen. Only when Britons go abroad will they get the air traffic controller’s viewpoint, and see how much we have gone down in the world. But most Britons won’t be able to go abroad so much in the future, it will be too expensive. Britain’s place in the world will not be among their day to day concerns.

Meantime newspapers like the Daily Mail will dish out their daily opium, convincing their readers that their prison cell is a palace and Brexit was the best thing that happened. Unless something can be done about them, other countries will continue to feel sorry for us while we ourselves live in a fools’ paradise.

If I find myself getting too upset by any of this, I remind myself that English people are noted for their sang froid, as expressed by this song. Britain has had things all its own way for many years, for which we can still be grateful. Indeed I’ve just completed a video celebrating our empire – Bye bye Britannia  .

As much as any Brexiter, I love the icons of our heritage: Sherlock Holmes, red telephone boxes, and cricket on the village green. These things are among those listed on a wonderful website called Sterling Times, whose creators say they do not accept the existence of the EU. How sad, that they believe our Britishness is undermined by the proximity of our continental neighbours, when the exact opposite is true.

Instead of being a stronger more independent nation, we will simply be a vassal state of Trumps’s America. While Brexiters were fretting about the threat from Brussels, American culture has already invaded us to a far greater extent, helped by the shared language.

Most people are barely aware of these changes, or that they now speak with a constantly upturned voice – the Californian uptalk – as if they are asking a series of questions. The Americanisation of our NHS will surely be next, driven by the same forces of silent infiltration.

So that is the tragedy of our foreseeable future. As one of America’s foreign territories, no longer so important because we will no longer be their voice in Europe. In a sense it’s a poetic ending to our empire. The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid, Concorde was destroyed by some chance debris on the runway, and Great Britain was finished off by a referendum.

Cheer up though, it may never happen.

* John King is a retired doctor and Remain campaigner.

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  • Nick Collins 14th Sep '17 - 11:05am

    Excellent piece; it deserves wider circulation. I’d vote for “Bye bye Britannia” for our new national anthem.

  • David Evershed 14th Sep '17 - 11:14am

    Would we rather be a vassal state of the USA or a vassal state of Germany?

  • Britain was in terminal decline before the referendum. Remaining would have slowed the descent but hitting the bottom was always inevitable, in or out.
    For a brief period (very brief indeed actually) this was the richest country on Earth. Though that is long past, we still behave as though it is still true. Some say we are the sixth richest country in the world. No we aren’t. We have the sixth biggest turnover which we operate at a thumping loss.
    It’s all so obvious but no one seems to care or even want to discuss it.
    God only knows how it will end. But Germany 1945 and post Imperial Rome aren’t very attractive examples.

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Sep '17 - 12:33pm

    Love the song but unfortunately when the Brexit Armageddon arrives I don’t think we will be there with sang froid and umbrellas. I’m very much afraid that people will believe it’s all the fault of ‘Johnny Foreigner ‘ as exemplified by the EU but by then including all ‘foreigners’ and we will descend into the kind of tyranny exhibited by Nazi Germany and Ancient Rome. I don’t think our sang froid really exists any more and we’ll be fuelled by hatred and rampant inflation blaming everyone else for our troubles but never owning up to the terrible mistake we’ve made. A few Remainers will carry on the Resistance but no other country will bother to come and rescue us.
    So I would plead with the secret Remainers, waiting for disaster, to take a stand now before it’s too late. Be the leaders you should be not the followers of the people or the mob will take over in Britain’s green and pleasant lands.

  • Mark Seaman 14th Sep '17 - 1:33pm

    ‘Terminal decline’ … ‘ Germany 1945’….’Finished off by a referendum’ ??
    I’m sorry, but that’s just a level of utter rubbish beyond anything so far on this site. It used to be a good place for discussion, but seems to have headed into the ‘fake news’ triangle, in a genuine example of terminal decline 🙁

  • Red Liberal 14th Sep '17 - 1:41pm

    Nice anti-German xenophobia, David Evershed. Germany is a peaceful, prosperous, decentralised country with a strong welfare state. It is a partner, no an oppresser.

  • Mark,
    We have a £1.7 trillion debt, a £70 billion deficit. Everything that could be sold (including the gold reserves) have been sold off.
    I ask again and again – tell me how and when the reversal of this situation happens.
    Will we remember how to make things again and become a huge exporter of high tech goods?
    How about agriculture? Will we feed the world and become a massive food exporter?
    Financial services? Are we at peak or can we make another £70 + billion net from some more?
    Sometimes I think I am the only one left who can read a graph and appreciate Britain’s financial status but am surrounded by ostriches with their heads in the sand because reality is too horrible to face.
    I repeat. Brexit will make the collapse of this house of cards come sooner but it was going to come eventually.

  • David Evershed 14th Sep '17 - 4:12pm

    Red Liberal

    I did not judge between the USA and Germany.

    For balance you may want to make the same xenophobia accusationt about John King’s remark that “we will be a vassal state of America”.

  • David Evershed.
    Good point. To which I would add that Trump’s America is not permanent and will probably only last one term anyway.
    Personally, as a leave voter I don’t care about the empire or the loss of alleged influence. I actually want a smaller less globally minded Britain.

  • Nick Collins 14th Sep '17 - 5:22pm

    I am very sorry to say, Glenn, that you will probably get your wish. Britain is getting smaller in every sense of that word. It is also becoming very small minded.

  • David Evershed
    Silly question! There is no parallel – those Britons close to Germany (and those Germans close to us regard one another very much as equals if somewhat different – not very much actually. Cultural absorption is always a long way off, because of different languages.
    Don’t understand your sentiment – all the major problems these days are international. You simply cannot solve them without multinational cooperation.

  • Tim 13′
    What I mean is that I want a Britain that is closer to say new Zealand or Norway than to say France or The USA. Involved here and there but not throwing any weight around or at the big table. I think you can have a perfectly functional country without pretentions of huge global significance. The thing is a lot of remain advocates seem hung up on world power in a way that mirrors the-make-Britain-great-again-mob. The only difference being that one lot seem to want the empire back and the other lot seem to want to be part of ersatz empire modelled on the former spheres of influence of catholic church at the height of the renaissance. IMO, the EU is very classical, very old Europe, very serious. Whereas, I think Brexit is a good opportunity for downscaling and concentrating on local/national issues.

  • @ Glenn “What I mean is that I want a Britain that is closer to say new Zealand or Norway than to say France”.

    You’ll need a big JCB to achieve that dream, old lad. It’s 20 miles from Dover to Calais and 12,000 miles from London to New Zealand, although I do believe Shetland is nearer to Norway.

    I remember Jo Grimond saying that in WW11 the young men from Lerwick were called up and told to report to their nearest railway station – they told the War Office that Bergen Station was in enemy hands.

  • David Raw,
    I think you know exactly what I mean, but if not then my goodness! How do you cope, being so literally minded?
    But just in case. I meant in terms of world significance not physical distance. I think the argument that a country is either at the centre of things or is at the mercy of them is baloney.

  • And I absolutely agree with your last comment, Glenn. The fantasy of Britain’s overriding importance is at least half responsible for the scrape we are in now.

  • Chrustopher Haigh 14th Sep '17 - 7:26pm

    @David Raw, I agree. Glenn is definitely taking the Plantagenet hostility to the French too far. Although here in Huddersfield we have made peace with the Vikings. But can’t wait for this postulated continental drift to happen to move us into the Pacific Ocean.

  • Population UK 65.64 million
    Population New Zealand 4.693 million
    Population Norway 5.233 million

    and you think we are like them Glen, I think you need to look for countries will a similar population and look at their place in the world.

    France 66.9 million
    Italy 60.6 million

    we are much nearer to Germany in population than the two countries you wish to ape. I know we Brits can over estimate our importance in the world but in your case you really do under estimate it. Still after Brexit perhaps you may be right if the population leaves, but that would put the migration from Syria to shame and perhaps even the Germans would need to impose limits.

  • @David Evershed
    Would we rather be a vassal state of the USA or a vassal state of Germany?
    Interesting question, particularly once you take into account post-WWII history. I seem to remember that as part of the reconstruction, the military men put in charge of Germany’s reconstruction, simply took UK/US management books and put the theory into practice (a bit like the what the Japanese did with respect to quality and continuous improvement), because their motivations and objectives weren’t the same as normal business owners they avoided much of the management.v.workers politics endemic across much of the world, resulting in the resurgence of the German economy…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Sep '17 - 11:31pm

    I have read some nonsense, some well written, this is not in the Carroll or Lear , league, or the Spike Milligan, but it is well written, and is utter nonsense !

    If the writer believes any of this , I do not believe he really does feel affection for the traditions he says he celebrates.

    Overdoing it for effect is fine in a theatrical production, but usually only by an O,Toole, most actors are better placed for at least a degree of the art of being subtle.

    Political “actors ” take note.

  • Frankie,
    I never said we were like them. Show me were I did?

  • The original title of this piece as I submitted it was Cheer up Britannia, Brexit is coming…AND YOU WON’T FEEL A THING. Some comments illustrate the point I was making, in that rather than feeling upset or protesting about being a smaller, poorer country, we take the less painful route of consoling ourselves that this is what we wanted, to be more modest, less arrogant, great opportunity for downscaling. The devalued pound is helpful for exports and tourism, and so on – makes the Brexiters actions easier.

  • Lorenzo.
    Well said. What I see in this article is a kind of yearning for a Europe uncorrupted by the “deviant” influence of pop culture. A Europe before Hollywood, rock, jazz, hip hop and low taste lead us astray from the high path. As I said earlier there’s something very classical about some of the support for the EU.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Sep '17 - 2:52am

    Glenn, yes, or worse is what the article is if serious, and that remains, a query.

    The Junker speech , should be covered . It is likely to turn those like me to support Brexit, if the EU embrace the vision, or view , as there is little of vision in it.

    If Rutte and the Dutch response , and that of Sir Vince is the norm, that is good news.

    If Junkers way is the future EU one, bring on a succesful Brexit.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 15th Sep '17 - 7:29am

    It is alarming to hear Junker speak of an EU “military headquarters”, and “common military force”.
    Ardent remainers often claim that the possibility of an “EU army” is a myth created by the Leave campaign. But Junker’s speech suggests it is a real possibility.
    A “common military force”, suggests a common foreign policy.
    This does make me seriously think perhaps Brexit will turn out to have been a wise decision. The EU claims to be a force for peace. But an organisation which is all about peace would not be talking about a “military headquarters” and “military force”. If we had remained, we might have found ourselves forced into future EU military action, against our will.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 15th Sep '17 - 7:48am

    Actually I just noticed that the account I was looking at in which Junker calls for a “military headquarters” etc is from exactly a year ago, not from Junker’s most recent speech. So the signs have been there for some time that the EU is not necessarily the peaceful institution it claims to be.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 15th Sep '17 - 8:25am

    Junker does give the impression of wanting a “United States of Europe”. But very few British people who voted Remain actually wanted this. It could be said that Remain voters were misled – more so than Leave voters

  • David Pearce 15th Sep '17 - 9:17am

    palehorse, you suggest britain was already in terminal decline so what difference does adding on Brexit make? i say, when in a hole stop digging.

    There could be many advantages for Brits with a change of national policy. Problem I see is that no politicians recognise there is a problem with the current arrangements, and most have accepted wholesale ‘its the fault of the EU’. This was always used as a scapegoat, but now we seem to be utterly in ‘leave the EU and all will be fine’ mode.

  • @ Palehorse “For a brief period (very brief indeed actually) this was the richest country on Earth”.

    And what was it based on ? I seem to recall that in those days access to those riches was limited to the very few who controlled things at the top and that the vast majority got by (or often didn’t) as best as they could – and the populations of the Empire were often exploited and treated with great cruelty..

    I’m afraid I have no nostalgia whatsoever for those ‘golden days and if this coiuntry continues to support the present government’s neo-liberal policies all the signs are that those bad old days will return again for the vast majority’.

  • “Vasall of Germany”

    May I remind you that the EU-rules currently binding the UK and Germany were developed in consensus with 26 others. There is not a single EU-law or regulation in place which the UK could not have vetoed, had it wished to do so. The UK has used her veto many more times than Germany. Good luck in trying that with the USA.

    “Smaller, less globally minded Britain”

    But the world around you will continue to be global, irrespective of a desired local mindset. Expensive, resource-poor countries have just one chance to prosper (and possibly break the indisputable trend towards “terminal decline”): being a know-how- and skills-leader in some niches and supply the world. Likewise, buy low-skill products from the world. That means maximum global integration, sorry. Retreat means decline. Stop dreaming! You cannot dismount the tiger.

  • Neil Sandison 15th Sep '17 - 10:44am

    Led as we are by a zombie government perhaps this article should be called Cheer up Britannia Winter is coming !

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Sep '17 - 12:05pm

    Catherine Jane as ever adding sense to silliness, a sense of common purpose to the silliness of the speech of Junker.

    I and she and the majority in our party voted remain.

    If the offering served up in the speech this week , and the ideas at the root of it were the remain manifesto, I and Catherine and many would have voted leave possibly, now, probably.

    Wiser voices are heard too on and in Europe.

    Whether Mr. Rutte of Holland is to the right of us or not, he is more my kind of Liberal and Democrat on this than Mr. Verhovstadt and those , worse, like the Juncker brigade with talk of ever closer union and a military one even !

    Things are changing and anyone who does not see that and recognise it and adapt to it is in another world.

    The project of Junker is that of one or two bigger dominant or once powerful nations like France and Germany wanting power and influence in a continent that is one of many , their countries and others amongst many with much to contribute , but not to control.

    And then there are the countries like the Luxembourg situation of Junker and that of Belgium and Verhovstadt. Smaller ones, little power , or influence, given some of it by their input in the EU and thus their obsession with it.

    Whether like me you consider yourself a patriot or not, suerely the reality is we as a nation or a quartet of nations cannot abide this mess.

  • Katerina Porter 15th Sep '17 - 12:10pm

    Germany’s workers on boards making both sides have a common interest in success of their companies was Britain’s doing in our post war zone. Sam Watson, a trade union leader who was involved ,a friend of my husband’s, told him that was the best system but we would never succeed getting it through in Britain. EU is an institution for peace – we have had no internal wars for 70 years which we now take for granted. Breaking up Yugoslavia was violent and horrendous, Czechoslovkia,in EU, broke up peacefully. Military cooperation in Europe has always been on the table, perhaps before common market, cannot remember. Britain has done very well out of EU and applied to join because then we were known as the “sick man of Europe” .

  • Katerina Porter 15th Sep '17 - 12:29pm

    We introduced workers on boards for Germany in our postwar zone, giving both sides an interest in success of their companies. Sam Watson, trade union leader and involved, told my husband this. He said it was the best system but we would never be able to get it through in Britain. EU is an institution for peace – that was why it was founded. We have had 70 years of peace which we take for granted There were plans for European military cooperation early on, not actually linked to the EU. Yugoslavia broke up in a specially violent way, Czechoslovakia, in the EU, came apart peacefully. We were known as the sick man of Europe the reason – the reason we tried and eventually succeeded in joining the EU.

  • @ David Pearce The difference caused by Brexit will be to make the decline faster, that;s all. Either way the economic indicators are all bad. One side blames the EU for all our woes, the other blames the Daily Mail and Brexit. Both groups are just keeping their minds occupied with this pointless, but diverting row to avoid facing the deeper problems.
    Again, just study the national accounts if you don’t believe me.

    @ David Raw
    I appreciate your emotion but what good will standing and shouting “Curse you toffs” do for the grandchildren. Do you seriously anticipate some Peoples’ Revolution which strips the Uber-rich of their wealth and distributes it to the poor?
    It wouldn’t be like France 1797 with the Aristos fleeing to the coast. Look round Farnborough, Luton and Blackbushe airports and see the row after row of private jets. The seriously wealthy will be gone in hours. Their wealth is already out of reach and there will always be scores of countries happy to give it a safe home.
    In the aftermath who will be the nation’s new wealth creators? Will Len McCluskey and Corbyn sit down and design some new world beating phone or electric car? I wouldn’t trust either of them with a 3-pin plug and a screwdriver.

    We have 60+ million people to feed, house and keep healthy. We do not have the resources to fend for ourselves. We have to be a trading nation and I only want a balance between wealth creation and fair redistribution but we have to get that wealth moving in and like it or not, it will be an enterprising elite who will do it.

  • Katerina Porter,
    The sick man of Europe trope goes back to the 1850s and was firs used to describe the Ottoman empire,
    It was applied to Britain mostly after we joined the Common Market especially between 1976 and 1979. The Three Day Week (73-74), IMF bailout (1976)Winter of Discontent (79-80), rampant inflation of up 24% and so on were also after joining the common market. Obviously, it doesn’t mean it was all Europe’s fault. However it does suggest clams that the various phases of the European Project have had a positive impact on the British economy are greatly exaggerated. In fact we have had succession of recessions and economic problems right through to 2008, whilst we were still in the EU!

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Sep '17 - 1:18pm

    I’m going to own up and confess that my vision for the EU is Federal and includes Russia. History shows us the development of larger and larger groups for government so surely it would be better to have an EU wide democracy, an EU foreign policy and, I’m going to whisper this, an EU army to defend us? I don’t want to go back to the days of Empire when we enriched ourselves at the expense of weaker countries. I think we should recognise that a better future lies in complete co-operation with our EU neighbours and that nationalism should defer to internationalism. As Lib Dems we will work for diffusion of power to the lowest common denominator but within the embrace of the EU to which we will owe loyalty.
    I can’t see how else we will avoid the dictatorship of globalised companies who think themselves above the law of any one nation. I think of the creation of an EU defence system as exactly that. A defence system, needed to protect our peace from attack by mad people with a nuclear weapon and there are a few who are developing that capability and at least one who has it already. I am a pacifist who believes that power exists. In that case we have to think about relative power and how to keep ourselves safe in a new world which bears little resemblance to the one in which WWII happened. It is a world which can be destroyed by its peoples and hiding our heads in the sand and hoping that capability will go away is totally unrealistic. The EU needs its own defence systems rather than relying on America.
    Democracy doesn’t always produce our desired result, so surely it’s better to be part of a large democracy that we can influence rather than rely on one that we can’t?
    I think a United Europe would deliver a lifestyle that would care for the vulnerable, prevent those at the top from abrogating all power and wealth to themselves and provide a defence against other super powers.
    I’m not sure if this is what Mr Junker wants because I haven’t read his speech and I realise I’m in a tiny minority but for me the reluctance to play a large part in the EU stems from the days when we had an Empire and a forlorn hope that those days will come again.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Sep '17 - 1:43pm

    Katerina Porter 15th Sep ’17 – 12:10pm
    “Czechoslovkia,in EU, broke up peacefully.”

    No – Czechoslovakia was dissolved (peacefully, as you rightly say) in 1993. Czechia (as we really should learn to call it) and Slovakia joined the EU in 2004. The EU is arguably a force for peace (and the “no, that’s because of NATO” argument completely misses the point) but that claim is an overreach.

  • History shows us the development of larger and larger groups for government

    Does it? I thought history showed us various large empires rising, then falling and collapsing into smaller units, only for new empires to rise, and then to collapse in turn into smaller units, and so begin the cycle again.

  • and the “no, that’s because of NATO” argument completely misses the point

    Indeed: the peace in Europe from 1945 – 1991 was only indirectly because of NATO. Mainly it was because the existence of an external, existential threat in the form of the USSR.

  • Arnold Kiel 15th Sep '17 - 2:19pm

    @Catherine Jane Crosland,

    Unfortunately I must concur that Juncker’s speech, the content of which I fundamentally agree with, was ill-judged and poorly timed.

    However, can you describe a scenario in which the UK would use military force against a European consensus view with any prospect of success? Can you point to any such case after 1945? Standardizing systems and adopting complementary roles and skills would easily double the operational effectiveness of today’s combined EU defense-budgets, logically under the condition of a joint command. Today, any European force only works as a US-sidekick. European military effectiveness (and resolve, for that matter) never had to stand any real test. Would the UK defend the Baltics alone, if Putin moves in and Trump disengages? How shall Europe respond to Turkey’s factually switching sides? How could Europe match Putin’s or Erdogan’s speed of decision-making, if it mattered?

  • The EU needs its own defence systems rather than relying on America.

    If ‘bigger is always better’ in government, though, surely you should want the EU and America to unite to form an even bigger union?

  • However, can you describe a scenario in which the UK would use military force against a European consensus view with any prospect of success? Can you point to any such case after 1945?

    The Falklands War?

  • “….my vision for the EU is Federal and includes Russia. ”

    Wow! That’s an ambition and a half. Putin v. Juncker, what a contest!

  • Putin v. Juncker, what a contest!

    ‘Whoever wins, we lose’

  • Arnold Kiel 15th Sep '17 - 3:09pm


    Agreed: Falkland, an aptly sized challenge by another leading force requiring global reach. Coming-up: Gibraltar!

  • Thanks for all your comments. I must confess to a personal antipathy to our subservience to America, which I guess comes across in my article. However it is clear that other people have similar reservations about Europe, and especially Germany. Apart from Sue Sutherland, who would welcome a federal Europe including even Russia. Regarding the British Empire, may I put in a plug for the musical video Bye bye Britannia, to which there is a link in the text. This was composed and played by a handicapped guy and I think it’s pretty impressive. It shows what can be achieved despite being disadvantaged.

  • Agreed: Falkland, an aptly sized challenge by another leading force requiring global reach

    It fits all your criteria, doesn’t it? A successful use by the UK of military force against a European consensus?

    If our military had been under EU command in 1982, and we’d have had to persuade Brussels to allow us to use them to invade, do you think we would ever have recaptured the Falklands?

  • Steve Trevethan 15th Sep '17 - 3:37pm

    Finance/Economics: Do we own and/or control our money/currency or do we rent it from the rich?

    Alleged “peace” in Europe and our unstated membership of the American Empire:
    “The war in Bosnia was America’s war in every sense of the word. The U.S. Administration helped start it, kept it going, and prevented its early end.” (Sir Alfred Sherman: Adviser to PM Thatcher)
    Can our roles in the world, in Europe (where we are at least geographically fixed) and in NATO be efficiently discussed without significant reference to our role in the American Empire?

  • Arnold Kiel 15th Sep '17 - 4:55pm


    do you believe Argentina would have invaded the territory of a militarily united and strong Europe? Naturally, this EU army is be committed to the territorial integrity of its members.

  • do you believe Argentina would have invaded the territory of a militarily united and strong Europe

    Why wouldn’t it have? Nobody’s scared of the EU.

  • (Especially because they’d know there’s no way the French and Germans would agree to sending EU troops to defend a British territory).

  • It’s rumoured May will offer the EU an insultingly paltry £27bn in the vain hope it will buy the start of talks on a trade deal. Anyway, the Irish Republic will veto any Brexit deal which imposes restrictions on the border, technological or not

    That’s certainly the game the EU are playing: force the UK to either leave with no deal or back down and remain.

    They underestimate the bloody-mindedness of the British: in that situation, we’ll leave with no deal (and that would pass in a referendum, too).

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Sep '17 - 6:15pm

    Our poster here, John shows the good- natured attitude of a Liberal and Democrat, even if I do think he is talking nonsense here !

    I often think Sue Sutherland a real example of good decent Liberal Democrat sensibility.

    Sorry Sue but have you taken leave of those self same , in your desire for internationalism ?! You worry about global companies but not Russia ?! You want us not to be nationalists but do not mind us being part of a union with a country that has always tried to dominate and does now, and to which we would be completely subservient .

    There is a lot to be said for developing a Liberal Democrat patriotism, the late great Verdi was a liberal and a nationalist, even as he was also an internationalist.

    With ideas so out of keeping with the mainstream, this party is likely to sometime disapear !

  • Lorenzo, really how can you, “he is talking nonsense here”. As a well known preacher of courtesy couldn’t you wrap that up a bit more ?

    As to Sue, she is talking very idealistic mainstream Liberalism – though you probably don’t recognise it.

    PS Jane Austen would tell you you’ve got your Sense and Sensibility mixed up – and a ‘p’ has disappeared somewhere as well. Must do better.

  • PS Verdi sounds a bit mixed up and a tad confused though I grant Aida has a few catchy tunes..

  • As Palehorse says Britain has been in relative decline for a very long time but a series of ‘lucky breaks’ – the destruction of much of the continent in WW2, the discovery of North Sea oil and so on – have helped disguise that uncomfortable fact.

    Now all that’s left is selling off the remaining assets – companies, London property and the rest – while running debt, property and immigration-based Ponzi schemes. This cannot end well.

    But what I find REALLY alarming is that, although there is a vast wealth of academic and practical experience available for the asking, no party has seriously set out to understand the root of what’s gone wrong although it’s eminently discoverable and perfectly fixable.

    Too many politicians have tried to solve the problem with better PR, arguably because that’s all they know, but that amounts only to papering over the cracks. In time spin on piled on spin has led us to a place where it’s become almost impossible to tell spin (and sometimes downright lies, e.g. WMD) from the truth.

    So it’s no surprise that so many are disenchanted with the mainstream parties and are turning to the snake oil salesmen.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Sep '17 - 8:20pm

    David, as Raw as ever !

    Missed our interaction as was not on as often, though I did support you on here as ever , unnoticed ?!!!

    My love for nonsense is well known, not stupidity or , though not as bad, silliness, but good old fashioned nonsense.

    You can see the company I like to keep on that subject above so do not think I insult John when saying he talks nonsense here, which he does !

    It goes back to my devising , with my good wife when just out of my twenties , nearly twenty years ago , What a lot of Nonsense , A Lewis Carroll Charity Matinee, for UNICEF, an Anthology for six players, three female, three male, devised by Lorenzo Cherin and Lana Fevola. Yes, we did gender balance even before I was a Liberal Democrat !

    As for Sue, a very fine member , but , really, aligning with Russia in a union of , what , exactly, is that really your idea of any Liberalism we could advocate ?!

    Verdi was rarely confused , even in his eighties, when he wrote a masterpiece, Otello .

    He was an activist and a liberal member of the first national Italian parliament, he gave years to the fight for a united Italy, a nationalism only in its unity not its dogma, that was not his way at all, his chorus of the Hebrew slaves in his opera Nabucco, reveals a progressive nature, unlike his contempory Wagner !

  • Catherine Jane Crosland (comment at 7:29 am)

    “It is alarming to hear Junker speak of an EU “military headquarters”, and “common military force”.

    Quite so. There is evidence that TPTB in Brussels have long aimed to build a centralized European superstate (with themselves in control naturally). Some believe that the whole Euro project was designed from the outset to promote that end and the idea of an EU military goes back many years.

    An anecdote: many years ago, I think about the time UKIP was starting but long before it was more than a curiosity, I knew someone slightly who was a retired tabloid editor. And he was, as you might expect, a 100% rabid Brexiteer long before that term was coined.

    I happened to bump into him one day just after there had been some mention of an EU brigade or similar in the press. He was almost purple with rage but when I could get a word in edgeways I suggested that I believed wherever possible power should be devolved but there where some things where sovereignty should be pooled for mutual advantage; the risk being that centralization could get out of control and go too far.

    He agreed with that so I went on to suggest that to avert that danger the EU should, in my view, have a new constitution whereby if a group of countries (a minimum of, say, 4 countries with 20% of population) were unhappy with Brussels having jurisdiction over something (e.g. fisheries or agriculture) then those powers would be repatriated to the nations – not just for that group but entirely removed from the EU’s powers. That would discipline Brussels to not overreach itself or empire-build.

    He liked that idea so I suggested an EU military might possibly make sense if such an arrangement was in place since it made sense to pool strength in mutual defense.

    On that basis he thought an EU military would be a good idea, one he would support.

    Wow!!! A rabid Brexiteer supporting an EU military.

    So, I think the Lib Dems have got the EU very badly wrong. In practice the party has always uncritically supported a centralizing empire-building plan. But that’s not liberal so we shouldn’t be surprised at the mess it’s created or the votes it’s lost.

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Sep '17 - 8:54pm

    I did say I had a vision and of course that vision has to include Russia as part of the EU. At the moment no, Russia would not meet the criteria for membership, but her empire no longer exists, which Cold War politicians would have found unthinkable. Why then should we assume that Russia will always remain as it is?
    People above have been talking about the Falklands War. In my opinion that was a total failure of Intelligence. We should have known that Argentina was likely to attack and should have then used diplomatic means to avert war. War should be a weapon of last resort which enables other methods of co-existence to succeed. Much like trade.

  • “…. there is a vast wealth of academic and practical experience available for the asking,…”

    Gordon’s words are very true, Our nation has no lack of intellectual capacity to solve our problems. Our curse is that we lack the courage to face them, put the past behind us and tackle the future positively and bravely

    Our nation could cope with almost anything, capitalism, communism, remain, leave whatever. Except, that is, the one bitter pill that we need to swallow and that is that we are not the planet’s chosen people, selected by God to be an example of all that is good. We are just 1% of the people on earth,
    No we don’t need a BBC World Service, we don’t need a seat on the UN Security Council, we don’t need nuclear weapons, we don’t need to dominate the best Universities list, we don’t need to be the most magnanimous and generous.
    We need to gather our resources, create a spirit of national renewal and get rid of all the baggage that holds us back.
    We could start with the House of Lords.

  • Brexit will be a bigger disaster than even most of us recognise. Read ian Dunt on . Boring bureaucratic trade negotiations are what will kill us. Davis and colleagues are acting like complete amateurs, and assuming it will all come right on the night. It won’t. It’s like saying you’ll just pop into the lion enclosure for a minute and try dishing out some food. At best, the M20 will be a car park. At worst, we will starve. This isn’t really a polemic against Brexit. It’s a polemic against doing it with reckless abandon, which May and Davis are doing.

    Why – apart from stupidity – are they doing it? I think their problem is that they do recognise that Brexit cannot possibly be a triumph that can win them the next election. Doing it supremely well will only mitigate disaster, and they will get no credit. So why try?

    Instead, the way to win the next election is the blame game. Negotiate appallingly badly. Provoke the EU side into intemperate comments. Make it so obvious that the UK side are in the wrong that Labour will perforce side with the EU, as Starmer has already done over the transition issue. Then the Tories can blame the EU and blame Labour for the disaster the Tories have themselves created. Wonderful. When it happens, let’s not stand equidistant between the twisters and the fall guys.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 16th Sep '17 - 9:23am

    Lorenzo, thank you

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 16th Sep '17 - 9:30am

    Arnold Kiel, I think you misunderstood my comments. I based my comments on the assumption that war is something we would wish to avoid. After all, the remain side often argue that the EU is a force for peace. Junker’s talk about an EU army makes me fear that Britain, if we were still in the EU, could be forced to take part in some future EU military action, against our wishes. With Junker making it clear that he wants a common EU foreign policy, this seems a real danger

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 16th Sep '17 - 9:41am

    Sue, I am surprised that you think the trend of history is towards larger and larger groups for government.
    The idea of empires has been completely discredited. It is taken for granted that nations have the right to independence. I know the EU is not an empire, and all members are supposed to be equal, but in practice some nations inevitably dominate.
    The idea of a United States of Europe could only be justified if this was what the majority of people in every EU nation actually wanted. But I very much doubt if there is a single EU country in which a majority of people want to be part of a United States of Europe. Forcing the people of Europe into a “superstate” without them having any choice in the matter is completely undemocratic and unethical, and is highly unlikely to lead to greater peace and harmony.

  • Arnold Kiel 16th Sep '17 - 9:51am

    Catherine Jane Crosland,
    you are absolutely right in the central point: a common foreign policy is a prerequsite for common armed forces. If you do not agree to the former, you must also reject the latter (as does, among others, Dav). It boils down to the question whether you believe in the possibility of deep and lasting partnership between countries.

    I believe not only in this possibility, but, especially in Europe, in its neccessity: no European country can defend its values, security, and prosperity alone against the big powers. The UK has embarked on a higly educational experiment to answer this question. It will be halted or, in my conviction, end badly.

  • Neil Sandison 16th Sep '17 - 2:05pm

    I would not dismiss Sue Sutherland comments on a federal Europe which included Russia look at your history books .Most of the armed conflicts in Europe have occurred when GB ,Germany ,Russia and France have misunderstood the intentions of the other . Russia has significant access to raw materials which have become depleted in our economies perhaps post Putin a new economic relationship can be established on the continent of Europe .Plows are better than swords in cementing economic co-operation.

  • Bill Fowler 17th Sep '17 - 9:07am

    Turning the England into Singapore with a minimalist government whilst Scotland and Wales become welfare states run by very intrusive local governments would be quite an amusing experiment in socialism versus capitalism, people having the choice to go live in the areas they deem most appropriate to their tastes… it sort of sums up the split in the British character!

  • To Nick Collins: Thanks for your compliment on the video, Bye bye Britannia . I agree this is well worth clicking on, even though it’s not me singing! Thanks to all of you for some very stimulating discussions, it is great to have so many comments on my article.

  • Nick Collins 17th Sep '17 - 4:05pm

    To John King: Where can i get a copy of the words and music; i guess they won’t be available by clicking on your LDV piece for much longer?

  • Bye bye Britannia is on my youtube channel kyngofengland, you should be able to download it from there. Thanks

  • Nick Collins 17th Sep '17 - 8:07pm

    Thanks, John.

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