Friday, 30 August 2019
The Final Countdown
It’s getting silly now. Like many who voted to leave the EU I did it for pragmatic, quite straightforward reasons. I don’t have the gift of prophecy so, unlike so many who proselytise for remaining under the direct control of a foreign power, I have no idea what the future brings. But I do have a clear and unwavering picture of my moral, social and political positions and development over the years. And I opted – given a free vote – to place my trust in the basic decency, honesty, thrift and wise counsel of the British people themselves.
I have never draped myself in the flag, although I quietly did my bit by serving in Her Majesty’s armed forces for a number of years. I have never taken to the streets to demonstrate, for a number of reasons: One, I have seen the scant regard given to noisy rabbles by the typical Briton. Two, being English, through and through, I am not given to public displays of grief, anger or even jubilation; I cling to my British phlegmatism, proud that it sets me apart from the more emotional Johnny-Foreigner, the behaviour of some of whom is, frankly. embarrassing.
But more importantly, I have never espoused a cause so precious that it has been worth my energy and dignity to parade my enthralment to all and sundry. Yes, I want to leave the EU. No, I don’t expect a return to empire, nor necessarily any ‘sunlit uplands’ to which I have not directly contributed. I don’t expect anybody to fight my battles for me (and I recognise I am fortunate not to need them to) but I also don’t expect anybody else’s single vote to hold more value than mine. And of course, being British, should I lose a battle, I quietly applaud my adversary, withdraw from the field and wait for the next time.
Just because Leave voters are not out in number, screeching obscenities at Westminster, spitting and snarling at those with whom they disagree, does not mean that the strength of feeling is any lower, nor that opinions have changed. Iain Duncan Smith once cautioned: "Do not underestimate the determination of the quiet man" and right now it feels as if we are the British garrison at Rorke’s Drift, facing up to an enemy we don’t recognise; an alien, hostile, noisy and numerous enemy; and lest anybody think that ‘enemy’ and ‘foreign’ and ‘alien’ are hyperbolic descriptors, just look at what they intend.
That is no less than the overthrow of an elected, if marginal, government. The overturning of constitutional procedures which go back centuries. The dismissal of the monarch’s role and in the process the trashing of the life’s work of the world’s longest serving and arguably the most steadfast head of state. And ultimately – for this is the European Union’s destination – the subjugation of a once sovereign nation to the whim of an unelected and unaccountable politburo of cronies and cranks with a common vision utterly at odds with the populations over which they hold sway. For them to refer to Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament as a coup is an absolute triumph of doublethink.
Oi! Don't frow them bladdy spears at me!*
So the battle is joined. And while the throng on the field is clearly that of the aggressor, the invader, the foreigner, parading their garish colours for all to see, do not imagine there is no resistance to their aims. We have watched and waited as they beat their drums and bare their chests. We have kept our powder dry as they have fired off salvo after salvo. We have rationed our resources as they have laid siege to our motives, our intelligence and even our patriotism. But we have held steady and now, in the last scenes of this uncivil war we are waiting until we see the whites of their eyes.
(*Yes, I know. This ISN'T a genuine quote from the film!)