June 23rd 2016 was the date of the infamous EU Referendum in the so-called United Kingdom. One year on and not a great deal has actually happened in Britain apart from the country playing up to all the worst stereotypes that people around the world hold regarding the British/English and indulging in one of the most obscene naval gazing exercises of insular provincialism, internal chaos, poor Governance and angry running battles between the young and old, the haves and the have nots, the educated and uneducated, the internationalists and the nationalists.
The UK is still in the EU – despite having a year to formulate a coherent and sensible exit strategy - and is still no further on from actually spelling out what precisely the terms of its Exit are to be summed up by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker who was recently asked if he was any the wiser what type of Brexit the British Government wanted which he replied to with a simply: This is conforms to one of the weirdest cultural and social stereotypes regarding the English. They are never direct. They never actually say what they mean. You never know where you stand with them as they are as unreliable and variable as their climate. They speak in riddles and codes dancing around the fundamental issues instead of cutting out the indirect double speak and getting to the heart of the matter. This is due to the fact they are a fundamentally incoherent, cowardly, timid people who lack backbone. That has been on full display for all of Europe and the world to see during the last year. As a Brit it is terribly embarrassing and depressing to behold this national spectacle.
Another cultural and social stereotype of the English which has been on sore display throughout the last year of self-induced Brexit madness is the appalling lack of productivity and efficiency which is the hallmark of the British/English way particular in customer service and business, indeed almost nearly every aspect of life and work in the UK, from Government to Taxi Drivers. What delicious irony that for all the moaning, carping and complaining from the Brits and their gutter press that Brussels and the EU is so slow, bureaucratic and inefficient, it is in reality the British and their State machine which moves at such an appallingly slow, confusing pace unable to even get its act together within a year of the British people voting to Leave the EU and spell out in precise and direct terms what its plan is for leaving the EU.
This is another hallmark of the English. They are fundamentally charlatans. They have the audacity to look down their noses and lecture other nations whether it be the Americans, the Russians, the Europeans, the Chinese, the Africans, the Indians et al with the most ridiculous holier than thou displacement activity and projection to mask the fact that what they lecture and preach to other nations is in reality hypocrisy as they themselves are often precisely what they claim not to be and what they lecture other nations on.
As the visionary Englishman George Orwell (who was one of the best critics of his own country) put it: «England [UK] is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts... a family with the wrong members in control». The future generations of the UK which actually will have to live through the nightmare of Brexit Britain voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU while the old fogeys, the old guard, the dinosaurs and relics of a bygone era (who still think it is 1945 and that Britain won WWII all by itself and hold deeply racist and xenophobic attitudes) will all be dead in a matter of years or bedridden and senile. The old guard are the bloc that voted overwhelmingly to Leave the European Union and with that have condemned future generations of Britons to a deeply disturbing, unstable, isolationist Britain with a much reduced quality of life and standard of living and far less opportunities than they themselves had as Baby Boomers.
This generational divide between the up and coming, progressive, liberal and internationalist youth of Britain and the dreary, drab, reactionary and deeply conservative «Pensioners» of Britain was on full display during the ghastly EU Referendum and again during the 2017 General Election with the young flocking to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party and the ancient (at first) cheer-leading Theresa May and then begrudgingly voting Tory in the face of Nick Timothy's «Dementia Tax» or holding their noses and voting non-Tory. The poor old dears did not know which way to turn after buying in so heavily to the May Cult and then being treated so cruelly by their so-called Iron Lady Mark II.
The rest of the world barely talks about Brexit. You hear next nothing about it in the American press, even the European press, or in other countries like Russia, China or India. While sensible, mature, powerful and confident countries get on with addressing their national challenges and working on international issues the British have severely retreated in on themselves and are all consumed by the madness of Brexit. Brexit is all you ever hear about in the British press and political discourse. Another cultural and social stereotype which Brexit has brought to the surface and confirmed once again for the world to see is the famous English arrogance.
This arrogance is best exemplified by Theresa May, her former toxic advisors Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill and the appalling approach she/they laid out for Britain's shambolic departure from the EU with May's dreadful «Global Britain» speech (a deeply reactionary, irresponsible and incoherent speech) and then subsequently followed up with her behaviour during the wretched General Election campaign of 2017 with ridiculously arrogant (but as it turns out empty) pronouncements that Jean-Claude Junker and co would find out during the Brexit negotiations what a «bloody difficult woman» she could be. One thing you can rely on the English is to always make a fool of themselves and lower their dignity. The English/British should follow the motto of former US First Lady Michelle Obama and practice a little more grace and dignity: «when they go low, we go high».
And even as Brexit negotiations get under way the offers that the British Government are coming forward with are miserly, incoherent, vague and are only going to make a bad situation even worse. Again this conform to a national characteristic. The English make terrible offers, put forward cheap and unworthy deals, and always inflame difficult situations. I'm sure the powers that be in the EU are saying to themselves that dictum of Napoleon's: «Never interfere with an enemy that is in the process of destroying itself». After the way Britain has behaved with this EU Referendum and the follow up, indeed the way Britain has behaved as an EU member over the last forty odd years, I doubt very much the UK will ever be allowed to return and I have a feeling the rest of Europe will sigh a huge release of relief to be shot of the difficult, arrogant, unhelpful and disloyal Brits and probably deep down most Europeans think «good riddance to bad rubbish».
I have never felt more ashamed or embarrassed to be a British citizen and I find myself constantly having to apologize abroad to other nationalities for the disgraceful behaviour of my country. So, one year on from that earthquake vote to Leave the EU the UK is engulfed in political, social, cultural and economic chaos and playing up to and conforming to all the worst stereotypes regarding the country and its national characteristics. No wonder so many young people want to emigrate abroad and escape the madness of Brexit Britain.
Yet it is always darkest before the dawn. Not everyone in Britain conforms to or plays up to these terrible national characteristics and cultural/social stereotypes. There are good, decent, thoughtful people in Britain who feel as I do that the country is headed in totally the wrong direction and must make an urgent course correction. There are many people in Britain who would like to see a rejection of the politics of arrogance, fear, anger, xenophobia, racism and narrow/small minded provincialism. There are many people who believe with all the internal and external challenges the UK is facing it is national madness to engage in this Brexit nonsense and alienate so many potential allies and partners around the world while condemning future British generations to a country with an even more decreased standard of living, quality of life and interconnections abroad.
There are many who would like to see a more fair, equal, progressive Britain with a stronger sense of national purpose and direction, greater productivity, wealth redistribution better education and healthcare and social care systems, affordable good quality housing, and a Britain at ease with itself, calm, open to learning from other countries and their systems and ways of life. A Britain which raises its sights beyond the rubbish television programmes of «The Only Way is Essex», «Made in Chelsea» or «Big Brother». A Britain that is civilized, cultured, intellectual and hard working while taking care of the most vulnerable in society and ensuring the strongest make their fair contributions. A Britain that does away with silly and outdated class practices and redundant institutions. There is a battle raging in British politics at the moment between the reactionary Brexiteers/Nationalists and the progressive anti-Brexiteers/Internationalists. It is a battle worth fighting but who will prevail is in the words of that supremely wise Prime Minister of China Zhou Enlai: «too soon to tell».