Perhaps it’s me, wherefore I shall dispense with excessive hand wringing, but I don’t view the recent decision by Britons to exit the EU as a political choice at all. It appears to be a political matter and varieties of opinion hold that “Brexit” is an uprising of the peasants, a repudiation of the elites, or a concerted response to neoliberal economics. But in order for these things to be true they’d have to be borne out by the rhetoric of Britain’s proponents of separatism, and evidence for this is in scant supply. I believe it’s dangerous to graft onto demagoguery anything like principle.
Neil Farage evoked Gandhi in the waning moments of the Brexit campaign, suggesting leaving the EU was both heroic in an anti-colonial way and as inevitable as the march of history itself. There’s nothing like the reaction formation of faux colonial resistance to further the cause of skulduggery for the underhandedness of the pro-leave movement’s chief proponents was built upon the rhetoric of financial advantage, a matter Mr. Farage quickly revealed was utterly false on British television just a day after the vote. If leaving the EU meant something to the peasants it was verily because Britons would have more of their own money to spend on things like the National Health Service. T’was never true. Never.
Calling the Brexit vote a revolt of the masses is foolhardy although it holds genuine appeal for those who admire Donald Trump. By imagining partition as centripetal one advantages partition, and the latter is always the inevitable result of a land grab. Writing of Salmon Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children and the breakup of India Christopher Hitchens admonished: “One should never employ the word “irony” cheaply. But the subcontinent attained self-government, and also suffered a deep and lasting wound, at precisely the moment that separated August 14 and 15 of 1947. Rushdie’s conceit—of a nation as a child simultaneously born, disputed, and sundered—has Solomonic roots. Parturition and partition become almost synonymous. Was partition the price of independence, or was independence the price of partition?”
Excerpt From: Christopher Hitchens. “Arguably.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Bccvz.l
A good question. One can only read Brexit as colonial blow back. Under false pretenses, with the promise of greater autonomy and economic security, downtrodden Britons voted for the birth of a small nation, a sundered place, ironically less independent for all the bombast. Isolation is in fact the price of partition. That UKIP and renegade Tories promised a British rebirth is shameful. That some imagine there were true principles involved, that is another matter. The only principle was xenophobia and that’s not much of a movement, though of course it works.