It is genuinely impossible now to characterise Brexit. ‘Coup’, ‘virus’ and ‘fiasco’ are amongst the most accurate descriptors – or a cocktail of all three. But most worrying, perhaps it is just what the (Y)UK has now become – the ‘new normal’ of a ‘failing state’ And, if we proceed on 29th March to succumb to this toxic concoction, from where should the passionate European with the misfortune to have been born a Brit survey the carnage?
This blog has rehearsed all the arguments for Brexit’s duplicitous malevolence repeatedly since well before the 2016 referendum.
It is a ‘coup’ because it is based on a criminal, profoundly dishonest, campaign to steal the 2016 referendum which garnered a 17m vote. This has since been imposed with acute authoritarianism on the 48m residents and citizens who gave no consent. There is no majority in parliament for either May’s Withdrawal Agreement OR any other Leave-based scenario. The unwillingness to test opinion in the country with a second, more robust, People’s Vote is based on the absolute certainty amongst the Golpistas (including the leadership of the two largest parties in the Commons) that there is now a healthy Remain majority. I have still to get to the bottom of who precisely is behind the coup – but it is probably dark money of a Far-Right complexion with a bit of Putin oligarchy (which is also pretty dark and far right) thrown in when state machinery comes in handy.
It is absolutely a ‘virus’. All the cognitive failure pathogens are present – Little-Englander xenophobia, geriatric nostalgia for illusory golden ages, blaming everyone else for the consequences of your own inadequacies. It is slightly encouraging that although a significant number of the population have been infected, the clear and increasing Remainer majority suggests that cognitive failure is not as widespread as some would have had us believe and that it is treatable. It requires radical political reform, an end to austerity, and much more progressive conviction than either May or Corbyn can deliver at nation state level. And the countermeasures may be too weak and too late to turn back the coup. But the virus has been halted and there is the beginning of a turnaround.
However, then there is the ‘fiasco’. Has any Government and Leader of the Opposition ever been politically and bureaucratically more useless? Sure – being the first country to leave the EU was always going to be challenging. But between ridiculous and contradictory ‘red-lines’; two-faced and deceitful negotiations; the primacy of party politics over national interest; and with apologies to the Right Honourable gentleman – the failing-Grayling brand of policy delivery, the Government and the Corbynystas have been uniquely pathetic. Whether this was the coup’s strategy all along, or just the puppet-masters’ good fortune must await the historical analysis.
I have been promising some of this blog’s readers a serious analysis of the UK as a new type of ‘advanced failing state’ – and it is an endeavour I shall try to undertake seriously over the coming weeks. The many definitions of failing states tend to be applied to less developed and much poorer countries than Britain. But “the demise of the practical operations of government functions”… ”facing serious problems that threaten their internal coherence”…with “no institution with the authority to negotiate, represent and enforce the results of their negotiations”…”acting in a wholly unreliable way” seems a reasonable portrait of the May Government. I have occasionally injected the fanciful notion that this would be an unfair representation of Somaliland – a state recognised by absolutely no one internationally! How has it come to this?
And so – to 29th March 2019. I have thought long and hard about a symbolic vantage point from which to reflect on this deeply sad national self-destruction.
My most immediate thoughts turned to London – our one truly global city, Remainer capital, and certain to host some sort of anti-Brexit vigil or more proactive resistance. However, I shall now be attending the 23rd March event as the five-to-midnight rejection of the coup – an appropriate symbolic act for an always dynamic city ahead of the curve…
As European to my core, it would be suitably reflective to spend the 29th and 30th in Brussels – the political centre of the EU. But I have been there many times, and it does strike me that the 29th March should provide me with a genuinely new experience of place.
That brings the geographical centre of the EU into play, as it shifts eastwards from Westerngrund to Gadheim in Bavaria. I don’t really know rural Bavaria but it would be interesting to take a sounding in a geographical heartland whose championing of extremism in the mid-20th century was so much a rationale for a European project on which our own extremists are now spitting their bile.
Alternatively, I have considered a ‘grand tour’ around the EU’s northern, southern, eastern and western extremities. I would genuinely love to visit Nuorgam (Finland), Reunion (both south and east), and probably Azores (west) as four new points (for me) of an EU compass that is genuinely global in a way that is so different from the UKs outposts in Saint Helena, Diego Garcia and Pitcairn.
However, in terms of a fitting self-indulgence, nothing trumps Kiribati.
The republic of Kiribati is a 33-island state of around 110,000 population spread over 3.5m square kilometres of the central Pacific. Why is it the perfect place from which to observe the UKs ultimate diminution of its global position and influence?
Well – firstly, Kiribati is a uniquely global state in all four hemispheres of the world – straddling both the equator and the International Date Line.
Second, Kiribati has a highly unusual history as a British Colony until independence in 1979 – hosting both some disputed territory with the US over guano (i.e. bird-shit) mining/harvesting rights and also UK and US nuclear and hydrogen bomb tests in the 1950s and 60s. So, it has particularly relevant experience of toxic UK adventurism – ultimately in the shadow of the US.
Third, and most pertinently, Kiribati represents probably the most extreme example of climate change risk of any nation state. Having already lost two islets in 1999, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has modelled the submersion due to rising sea levels and/or extreme soil salination of all the atolls/islands of the territory by the end of the century. The comparison of total destruction by global forces beyond Kiribati’s control is a powerful counterpoint to the UK’s self-inflicted, frivolous, but also most likely total destruction of our nation state as we recognise it today.
In 2014 the President of Kiribati purchased 5500 acres (22sq kms) of land on Fiji as part of a risk mitigation strategy should he have to relocate part or all of his nation. The option of relocation is something being explored by numerous islands at risk of being overwhelmed by climate-change.
And I suppose, that is ultimately why Kiribati would be such a special venue for reflecting on the UK’s stupidity. Even one of the poorest nations in the world, under genuinely global existential threat of total destruction, has a more credible strategy for the future than a G7 and UN Security Council member, supposedly fifth largest economy in the world, submerged by our capricious Brexit deceit.