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What if Leave and Remain switched sides? Many Brexit voters would feel more at home in the EU than in the new Global Britain

Credit: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty


July 23, 2020   6 mins

The renowned Belfast-born Irish poet Derek Mahon was once explaining to his French translator Philippe Jaccottet that in Northern Ireland “there are republicans and loyalists, mostly aligned with Catholics and Protestants”.

“And naturally,” he replied, “the Catholics are the royalists and the Protestants are the republicans?” Hailing from a Swiss-French background, Jaccottet had understood “loyalists” as “royalists” — correctly — and made a logical inference, based on his understanding of Catholicism and its traditional association with the crown.

It’s an example of how our tribal alliances sometimes defy logic, at least to outsiders, and for odd historical reasons. Similarly, imagine explaining to a stranger that in Britain there are two tribes, one nationalist and one globalist, and they are aligned with a European civilisation-state on the one hand and with more liberal multiracial federations on the other?

This is not to make the fatuous point that “Remainers are the real racists”, which is not true, only to point out that political-tribal loyalties are often irrational, and can change for equally irrational reasons. We’ve only just come to the end of what was supposed to be David Cameron’s second term, but the world of politics has changed immeasurably since his departure, and it continues to change still. In five or ten years’ time, when Brexit has been and gone, will the two parties of Left and Right have evolved into the parties of rejoin and stay out? Considering the events of 2020 so far, and the way geopolitics is changing, it might not be so simple.

Britain only left the EU on 31 January, and has already moved noticeably closer to Australia and Canada in foreign policy matters, the three countries issuing joint statements on Hong Kong.

This was entirely as some Leave campaigners imagined, fulfilling the dream of “CANZUK”, an association of free trade and free movement between the four English-speaking Commonwealth countries. The idea was viewed with suspicion by some on the Left as being about kith and kin, or part of some deluded imperial nostalgia, yet one of Global Britain’s first acts in this new alliance was to offer British citizenship to the people of Hong Kong, potentially increasing immigration by hundreds of thousands.

Elsewhere, Britain has been busily securing a trade agreement with Turkey, a deal worth £20billion that will make it easier for Turks entering Britain.

France, in contrast, is sending gun boats to the eastern Mediterranean to support Greece against a Turkish regime that appears increasingly aggressive and chauvinistic, a perception not helped by Erdogan’s decision to turn the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque (which France protested, but Britain remained silent over). France and Turkey are at odds over Libya, but to say that this is just about power, money or resources would be wrong, since the post-Brexit world appears to see the two western European powers embarking on their own historic world missions.

France has traditionally seen its role as protecting Christians in the east, and the current French president is aware of his historical position as the secular leader of Christendom, the heir of Charlemagne. Macron was once a hero to Britain’s centrists, but he is no Blairite; indeed it has been observed that while Boris Johnson poses as a populist he is a technocrat at heart, while the outwardly technocrat Macro is in reality a Gaullist.

France is not alone, and a recent meeting of MEPs discussing Turkish aggression was described as like “seeing the reappearance of Pope Pius V calling on the Holy Alliance against Turkey and mobilizing the fleets of Christendom to face the Ottoman invasion.”

The EU has prided itself on being post-historic, universalist and liberal, but in an increasingly hostile world during a troubled decade, and facing two revanchist powers to its east, it may be forced into becoming more of a “civilization-state”.

Ths is not entirely impossible; most of continental Europe is nothing like as progressive as British Remainers imagine, and Britain has always been one of the most liberal members, both socially and economically. From the start of the European project Britain was heavily involved in framing ideas of “human rights” into the European legal system, even if this became a widely disliked phrase in the British conservative press.

So while France’s world role appears to be defending the frontiers of Christendom, Britain’s post-Brexit leaders see their mission as reviving the 19th-century gospel of free trade. That was always a core part of the Vote Leave ideal, and it is certainly not a populist or nationalistic idea — although it is to some extent a nostalgic one.

Indeed, while the “Anglosphere” is a term with strong centre-Right Atlanticist undertones, by any real measurement the English-speaking nations are the most liberal on earth.

In continental Europe, only the small Scandinavian countries are comparable and Germany — and even more so France — are further to the Right on core progressive issues like race relations, gender equality and gay rights. (They may be more socially democratic, but that is another matter). Compare Macron’s firm opposition to the BLM iconoclasm with the British Government’s response.

If Joe Biden wins in November, the continual liberal direction of the US will accelerate, bringing the Anglosphere with it, since we have almost no immunity to American cultural trends. It is true that almost all western countries are becoming more liberal — even in Poland, where conservatives just sneaked the recent election, time may be against them — but the English-speaking world is moving at a more rapid rate. In the US, the youngest generation are way, way to the Left of their elders, while their peers in France are among the biggest supporters of the radical Right.

In Britain, despite the anguish that followed the referendum and dire warnings that foreign-born residents would flee, immigration has remained at record highs, with no signs of decline. Meanwhile attitudes to immigration and race have continued to become far more liberal since 2016. It’s strange to think that while this was happening the BBC broadcast an Agatha Christie adaptation un-subtly comparing Brexit Britain to the 1930s, a reflection of how utterly deluded a large section of the commentariat and cultural elite have become since 2016, engaged in collective political hypochondria in which every flag is a swastika just as every lump is cancer.

While Brexit and Boris Johnson have taken the wind out of national populism in Britain, it remains a much stronger force on the continent; it’s not improbable that a member of the Le Pen family will become France’s first female head of state in the coming years, while in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands populism has far from gone away.

One-third of ethnic minority Britons supported Brexit, and while people voted in that referendum for a number of reasons, some were certainly attracted to a global Britain in which Indians, Nigerians and other Commonwealth citizens might have as much of a place here as continental Europeans. The Brexit coalition played up this historical link in order to deflect accusations of racism (but then they could do so, knowing that people with strongly racist views were unlikely to vote for their opponents). The edgiest the official Vote Leave campaign ever got were the notorious adverts warning about Turks coming here, ironically, as it turns out, since the new trade deal will almost certainly mean more Turkish immigration than would have been allowed if we were in the EU. It seems unlikely that any deal with India or other substantial world economies won’t contain similar clauses.

Yet Leave voters, like Remainers, are more favourable to EU compared with non-EU immigration, and Ukip’s rise in the polls began before the post-2004 influx of eastern Europeans, during when most migration was from outside the continent. The increase in Polish immigration just made the subject more respectable to discuss.

The typical English conservative sympathetic to national populism has more in common with the values of the European Union than with the Anglosphere — both socially and, increasingly, economically. Similarly, British progressives are far more interested in the United States and its ongoing political drama than they are with what happens 22 miles across the Channel; many could name numerous black American victims of police brutality, but wouldn’t be able to pick out the Dutch prime minister in a line-up of other random tall people riding a bicycle. The US is not just more progressive than Europe, but its progressivism is more aggressive and far more proselytising. Many voters are, indeed, in the wrong camp.

From the vantage point of 2020, this thought experiment in which Leave and Remain switch sides might all seem improbable, since Brexit and Remain identities are extremely pronounced — far more so than Labour or Tory self-identification before the referendum. Indeed, Remainerism is probably the most passionate tribal identity that has emerged in England since the days when people fought over Holy Communion and transubstantiation.

Yet group identity can transform swiftly, as can tribal policy positions. Republican voters went from being pro-free trade to anti in rapid time, following the leadership of Donald Trump, and reflecting the fact that political views often follow social cues and party identity, not any particularly logical reasoning.

Back in 1997 it would have seemed ridiculous that the Conservatives would become the party of the working class, especially in the north, so it’s not inconceivable that there might be a “great realignment” on Europe, with internationalist Remainers embracing Global Britain and nationalists finding common cause with allies on the continent. Stranger things have happened, and in the 2020s, stranger things will.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘France has traditionally seen its role as protecting Christians in the east,’

France can’t even protect Christians in France. What a farce.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

No nation in modern history, has drunk so deeply from the well of national humiliation as the French.

As you so rightly say, now they cannot even defend their Christian culture from the insidious growth of Islam within the borders of the Republic.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

French Muslims are far more integrated than Muslims in the UK as all research on attitudes reveal. Of course France isn’t a multi cultural country, although it is a multi ethnic one.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Really, what evidence have you for that?

From what I have seen neither we, or the French have managed to integrate with Islam. Nor for that matter has anyone else in Europe.

Perhaps the problem lies with Islam? To use the vernacular ” they don’t do integration”, and maybe never will.

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

They have integrated fairly well in the US.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

Why is that do you think?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

There are a lot fewer of them that’s why. Give it time. And it is already happening as bloc voting got Ilhan Omar elected – someone who is actively anti American and Islamo-supremacist and wears a headscarf, something Muslims used to eschew in the States. There is also the fact that many Muslim immigrants in the past ran away to the USA because they didn’t want to be Muslim anymore or did not want to be part of the Islamic fundamentalism sweeping the Middle East after the Iranian Revolution.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

Ed,
you need to brush up on your history. France often took advantage of Austria, when they (Austria – aka Holy Roman Emperor) were trying to repel the attacks by the Ottomans/ Turks/Muslims. Notably when France conquered Strasbourg (an imperial free city) whilst Austria were otherwise occupied on its eastern front – not much support for Christianity there.

In the leave/remain debate I voted to leave because I felt that democracy was fundamentally important. I also believe that democracy only works at the national state level. Although this is indeed is becoming debateable as many people in Britain seem to refuse to accept the result of elections.

This, of course, meant that I had to vote for Boris; as the only politician liable to get Brexit done. I, also, had to accept that Boris is not my idea of a conservative.
Which leaves us with the immigration problem; I do not wish for the mass immigration of today – regardless of where they come from.
Who can I vote for to stop that?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Back in the 1990s I was a pupil at one of the European Schools dotted across Europe. Back then European union meant greater cooperation between nation states and camaraderie between people of different cultures and ethnicities.

However, that is no longer the case. The EU has become a solution looking for a problem. It costs a lot of money and beyond freedom of movement brings no real benefits to European people. It is also decidedly anti-democratic; many EU high-ups believe that nation-states should be managed through the soft power of financial penalties and incentives.

While I’m not happy with the current government, at least British citizens can vote to change it. The EU is so far removed from the everyday lives of ordinary people yet has the potential to become highly dictatorial especially were it to control all levers of power across Europe.

I try to explain this to my friends who were for Remain. They cannot see it as anything more than a ‘racist’ vote against immigration.

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

!beyond freedom of movement brings no real benefits to European people.”-a benefit for the middle class traveler and global executive-debatable benefit for most people.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

in the UK perhaps – but elsewhere in the EU FOM is seen as a boon for Eastern Europeans looking for a leg up.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
3 years ago

This article in my view makes the same miscalculation as the Remain campaign and the continuity Remain group of politicians and press – Brexit was only very peripherally about free trade, and not as deeply wedded to the question of immigration as many people believed.

The questions of tariffs and price we pay for goods, while interesting to political wonks like me, is not something that gets your average Joe’s juices flowing. But the question of whether we have sacrificed too much of our own right to self determination just to ensure “free trade” most certainly is. And the argument that frictionless borders and free trade with other EU countries was just not enough to justify the ever creeping influence of the EU commission, who appear beholden only to themselves and the big multinationals, in every aspect of our lives won the day in 2016, and again last December.

Same with immigration – I see very little evidence that there is much ideological objection to immigration or a lack of understanding of its benefits, but there most certainly is an objection to being forced to take everyone in that the EU tells us to.

And on the “free trade” question – in what way is a system where countries such as the UK, with its living wage, red tape and environmental obligations, are expected to compete with countries such as China where none of the above costs apply, fair? Trump’s tariffs are a levelling of the playing field, not a renunciation of free and fair trade, and in my view an easy argument to win.

So what we have here is two sides, both here and over the pond – one that believes in a collectivist society where the global, international and national bureaucracies and mega corporations control most aspects of people’s lives, including their speech and thoughts, and where every privilege that those at the top table have earned should be preserved at all costs (Remain, the Democrats, Romneyite Republicans, New Labour, the Hammond wing of the tories, the press, Big business, schools and universities) versus those who believe that community, family, job security opportunities, opportunities to better oneself, entrepreneurship, individual freedoms and heritage are far more important than whether we can buy some products more cheaply from abroad and not have to fill in a visa form to work or travel abroad (Trump, Leave, small elements of Johnson/Cummings and not so much else. Oh other than those legions of irritating folk who keep voting the wrong way).

It’s the big picture, not the small details, and no, I can’t see many people switching sides.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

Trump won the electoral college, he lost the popular vote by 3M.
There is more to a country than GDP growth and/or Free Trade. I am all for that, but that means that the people that push for those policies (less migration, less free trade etc.) have the responsibility to explain to the rest of the country that they will be poorer and the service they want will be worst. Trump/Leavers believe in the Cake Theory.

Robert Lund
Robert Lund
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

They knew what they were voting for . A time to present a case is before an election not after . You make the remain /anti Trump arrogant mistake that those who voted differently than you did are stupid , un-informed , etc.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I’m not pretending for a second that there is a big advantage for either side – it’s all to play for and despite the uncertainty I expect November 2020 to be very close.

I don’t agree about responsibility for those pushing the policies having to outline the negatives any more than I’d expect your side to say “actually we know the EU will try to grab more power, nation states will be less powerful and politicians will become less accountable. Oh and keep paying us hundreds of millions a week for the privilege.”

Much as you wish it to be true, there’s not a right and wrong side, there’s 2 competing visions who in terms of popular support are very evenly matched.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Sir, so wrong. That would be DemocratSlaveryParty Stooges who want cake. “Migration”? Americans are free to “migrate” from one state to the other (with the exception of a few controlled by DemocratSlaveryParty Guv’nors). As for “immigration” by foreign persons into the US most have no problem with legal immigration. It is illegal immigration that DemocratSlaveryParty POLs and their toadies want to use these people to rig elections that thinking people oppose. The DemocratSlaveryParty has been the evil, racist party from the beginning.

Pete the Other
Pete the Other
3 years ago

For me at least, Brexit is only the first part of the project to bring the allegedly democratic denizens of the Westminster bubble back into line with the voters. No longer can MPs reply to angry letters with the usual “really sorry about this, hands tied, European directive blah blah” and then go back to pushing for the next, even more restrictive, set of rules. If Parliament enacts something now, the Members of Parliament are unambiguously responsible for it. We can find out who voted for what and ourselves vote accordingly.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete the Other

I hope your right but fear each of the powers of state – executive, juciciary, civil service and MSM will all try a power grab at once and it will not be pretty. Note i omit parliament as it is no longer a power of state, simply a gravy train like its EC equivalent in Brussels/Strasbourg

Terry Davis
Terry Davis
3 years ago

The point the article misses is that the UK voted to be free to decide which bits of European Nation states’ we agree or disagree with, and not to have the EU decide for us. It’s known as sovereignty.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Davis

That is your interpretation of the vote. Most Leave voters have no idea how their government works. Most Leave voters have no idea how EU works.
Every major catastrophic decision during my lifetime was made by UK GOV, not EU.
The voters decided that sugar tariff (or tax on tampons) was more important than the Iraq War or Light Touch Regulations….

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Most remain voters don’t have any idea how the EU works either (or more importantly what it might look like in future years), only that leaving might make their skiing trips and second home visits a little more tiresome.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

No one knows what the future looks like.
Every major catastrophic decision during my lifetime was made by UK GOV not EU. That is a fact.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You mean like joining the Common Market and the ERM?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

UK decisions and there was nothing wrong with ERM…aside from the fact that UK GOV (Maggie!) blew up a debt/housing bubble.
Private sector debt went form c80% of GDP In 1980 to c.160% of GDP by 1992.
UK spend the 80s making reforms, spending North Sea money and it is GBP that goes down in flames. Germany gets unified and has to pay for East Germany and DM goes up…think about that!

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So you were born after the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Smith

Not catastrophic decisions, you might think so but they are not.
Real Catastrophic Decisions:

Housing policy
Education
Pensions
Home/Elderly Care/NHS
Iraq/Libya War
Light touch regulation
monetary/fiscal policy
taxation
Immigration policy

the list goes on

Diarmid French
Diarmid French
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Perhaps if you find the governance of your country so dreadful you should seriously consider a move to an EU country. You might get a better idea of what the EU is and what it represents.
For the first time in my life I am considering moving overseas but not for the same reasons as you should.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

And when the UK GOV makes a catastrophic mistake, we vote them out. What happens when the EU commission makes a catastrophic error? It is kind of important to a lot of people.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

Yes, GE 2005. Remind me, did the LibDems (the ONLY political party to institutionally oppose the Iraq War) win the election?

Paul Savage
Paul Savage
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No they didn’t. And that is exactly the point. The fact that you think a particular decision is a mistake is not what matters. It’s what the electorate as a whole thinks. And they, wisely in my opinion, decided not to elect the Lib Dems.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Savage

I can not speak for the whole electorate – you clearly can. But every single respectable study considers the Iraq war a disaster. And it has destroyed the legacy of Tony Blair.
The (heroic!) British people decided that ever rising house prices was more important than the Iraq War. Their decision.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

“Respectable”..i.e., leftist.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Here’s the other issue my friend. You don’t get to decide what constitutes a big mistake or what constitutes a good policy. You’re absolutely entitled to your opinion – and I agree with your assessment of the Iraq war for one – but you are only one voice out of an entire electorate. Perhaps you are suggesting that the decision of who should run a country should be left to a small group of intelligent and right-thinking people rather than elections. It’s a view but not one that I believe has popular support.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

it is my opinion and i did not suggest that an elite should run the country.
I (we?) always hear the argument ” if we don’t like it we can vote them out” , and that is a perfectly theoretically reasonable position. But the reality (including GE 2010 and the GFC) is very different…

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Your arrogance is partly responsible for your loss.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Davis

The UK can’t be sovereign, it is too small. The US will tell it what to do.

Dudden Hall
Dudden Hall
3 years ago

These assumptions are false. There is no problem with UK citizens coming to the UK from Hong Kong, Brexit is not about closing down UK borders, it is about stopping the exploitation of the UK by the EU.
The EU has been dumping poor EU citizens into the UK, and encouraging wealthier UK citizens to move to the EU. Stealing UK fish, while not allowing the UK to steal French grapes, or Spanish salad crops.
No longer will UK citizens wake up to find they have a President of the EU council called Herman Achille, Count Van Rompuy, someone they had never heard of, or voted for.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Dudden Hall

Every single study shows that EU immigrants are net contributors to UK Budget.

Frank B Brennan
Frank B Brennan
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Well before the Covid pandemic, 72,000 people from the EU were on the unemployment register, and 183,000 people from the rest of the World . ( Government figures.)

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

There should have been no EU citizens on the unemployment register as they are meant to be working, self-funding – or going back home as per the EU’s own directives on FOM. A rather too large % of homeless in the UK are EU citizens too – that is NOT what was meant to happen. But if you try to deport them it becomes an expensive drawn-out court battle for their ‘human rights’ when the EU’s own rules say they can and should be deported!! So – free to come in, and in massive numbers. But impossible to remove – even if you are a criminal in some cases. If that part had been sorted out fewer people would have voted to Leave I am sure of it. As for the non EU stats – well that is a whole other ballgame and I am sure a great deal of illegal or fraudulent or chain-immigration going on. Visa overstayers, fake marriages, importing your large family as ‘essential’ workers in your business etc. I see loads of it. If I were in government I would be deporting a lot more people that is for sure.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Simply not true.

People still glibly insist that “Immigrants put in more than they take out.” A statement that has been roundly and soundly debunked many times over – though probably never reported on the BBC or Guardian as it defies the Blairite orthodoxy on the benefits of limitless immigration.

Young, able-bodied immigrants do, indeed, contribute more than they extract.

However, factor in their spouses, their off-spring, the fact that these once-young migrants will age and no longer contribute, not to mention the monies that migrants receive that are sent overseas and not spent here, or the child benefit paid for children living in other EU countries and the picture becomes rather different.

Nobody seems to be able to agree on anything like an exact figure but overall migration to the UK is a massively greater cost to the exchequer than a benefit. Any increase in GDP has to be weighed against the size of population and the provision of services.

So, when you say “Every single study shows that EU immigrants are net contributors to UK Budget” …..

“¦.The OECD found an average annual net fiscal cost of £4.3 billion in the years 2007 to 2009. Thus, on average, EU migrants paid £4.3 billion less in taxes than they received in benefits and services.

“¦. Centre for Research and Analysis on Migration (CReAM) at University College London found that all migrants were a net fiscal cost of £14.8 billion in the financial year 2011/12.

…. Using similar methodology to CReAM, research by Migration Watch UK found that all migrants were a net fiscal cost of £13 billion in 2014/15.

“¦”¦ Recent migrants from non-EU countries were also a net cost to the Exchequer in both analyses. CReAM estimated a net cost of £2.2 billion in 2011/12 meanwhile Migration Watch estimated a cost of £3.8 billion in 2014/15.

By all means lets have the debate, but let us be clear : You cannot have a generous welfare state whilst you do not have control of immigration.

The two are mutually exclusive.

Steve Dean
Steve Dean
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I cannot vouch for the ‘every’ part of single study quote, but your retractions all seem somewhat dated. I googled the statement ” EU immigrants are net contributors to UK Budget” and was offered an Oxford Economics study published in 2018 by the same government that is getting the ‘job done’. I may be misreading it, but main statistical finding is summarised:

In 2016/17, the average adult migrant from the European Economic Area (EEA) contributed approximately £2,300 more to UK public finances than the average adult currently living in the UK1 (see Fig. 1). We also found that the average non-EEA migrant contributed over £800 less than the average adult in the UK.

Which is one of the points the article is making isn’t it?

Here is link for the article in case you would like to check.

https://assets.publishing.s

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

You’ve confused European immigration with immigration in general. EU immigration is young people, generally skilled, culturally largely compatible, and in general they don’t bring their spouses over or unify their families. They are often temporary too, the weather alone assured that many will go back to Southern Europe in particular. The commonwealth immigrants are more permanent.

Terry M
Terry M
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

As here in the US, immigration is a mixed blessing. Sure many are great contributors and we have been enriched by their innovations. But too many are not interested in, or dedicated to, the American experiment – as defined in our founding documents. We are becoming less about freedom and more about free stuff. I see the same happening in the UK and much of the rest of Europe. “That government governs best that governs least” Thomas Jefferson.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry M

I think the issue is when immigrants, en masse, have more loyalty to their old home than their new one and the culture gets fragmented and fractious as different cultures gain the numbers to challenge the existing culture – and vie with each other – for influence. A nation that does not have a unifying identity, fails.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

No
Nationalists will not suddenly find common cause with Europe (and you use that term to belittle patriots)
After 40 plus years of being told what to do by them?
No

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago

I can’t even be bothered to wade through this rant – just another hopper on to any bandwagon to discredit or overturn a democratic vote. Most of us who voted leave did not come to that decision in 2016, we have wanted out for 40+ years. As far as changing to wishing to remain – dream on ! If anything we are more certain leave were right and I have read of several ardent remainers who now realise – especially in view of the recent behaviour of EU would-be dictators – that we are better out.
We were not influenced by social media or any perceived propaganda put out by Putin – we are British and as such don’t do subservience or is that the author’s preference? In which case either accept the status quo or pop across the Channel and reside elsewhere.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  SUSAN GRAHAM

I did wade through it and its not as simplistic as you may think. Ed West could’ve saved a lot of keystrokes by saying “Brexit, like many apparently clear binary issues is actually very complex and nuanced so that both sides of the divide probably agree on more than they disagree.” Then he would have had space to deal with the real causes of anti EU feeling in Britain. I think they mostly stem from the disaster of trying to fit our common law “kanun lec” system designed for tribes and clans into Europe’s Roman Law system based on testable facts and evidence. I will expand on this in a separate comment.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

Not sure about this. This is a lot of assumptions built upon assumptions.

1 – Britain has always been close to Anglo-countries, especially Australia, NZ and Canada. That’s no major departure since we left the EU.

2 – Turkey. Agree or disagree, both as part of Europe and NATO Britain has often sought a conciliatory, amicable relationship with Turkey. I take comfort from a notion that perhaps we are playing ‘good cop’ to the US’s and other EU nations’ more hard lines, but I’m not convinced by this. Either way this is consistent and has been the case for quite a few years.

3 – Your passage about remainers and leavers preferring EU to non-EU immigration makes no logical sense even as you have written it; adding that UKIP existed before Poland joined and insinuating that some people must just have felt more comfortable criticising white immigrants than non-white. Eh? So what’s the conclusion and how have you come to that?

4 – I don’t believe tribal views shift as dramatically as you suggest at all. The reality is that voting groups are made up of people with disparate beliefs on a wide spectrum of issues. Major external factors or changes sometimes adjust the balance amongst the people, rather than wholesale groups of people switching beliefs. Right now those that happen to be anti free-trade might support Trump. They might have supported Bush for other reasons, despite his pro free-trade stance (his Christianity and general conservatism perhaps). It depends what is most important at the time to people among competing beliefs, but the underlying beliefs might not change at all.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I am not sure I agree that Trump is anti free trade, he’s a business man and likes less government interference not more. I think he was just anti the Chinese taking the michael and jobs being haemorrhaged out of the USA. Fairly reasonable stance imho. The EU is anti free trade far more because it is very much an all or nothing, with us or against us club. Trade is the carrot, being absorbed into and subjected to ever increasing political union is the stick.

Christian Koefoed-Nielsen
Christian Koefoed-Nielsen
3 years ago

Very interesting thinking. But France – to the great annoyance of Christendom – was allied with the Ottomans from 1536 to 1798….

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Indeed, also since when did Macron become ” the secular leader of Christendom”.Surely that must be Trump?

Incidentally to describe Macron as the “heir to Charlemagne” is preposterous. Karl der Grosse to give him his correct name, was a German, or to be precise a Frank. His “appropriation” by the French is laughable.

It is this sort of European mythology that has so distorted the EU, as to make it an ugly, devious, charade.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

“His “appropriation” by the French is laughable.”

Is it?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The Kingdom of West Francia did emerge until the treaty of Verdun in 843 AD, twenty nine years after the death of Karl der Grosse, or as the French prefer, Charlemagne.

However I suspect you know all this, so what is your thesis?

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

He was however the son of Pepin the Short who ruled Francia jointly with Carloman. The territories Pepin controlled (Neustria) were for the most part in what became West Francia and ultimately France as we know it today. Charlemagne inherited those lands and went on to unite all the Frankish territories, out of which eventually emerged the modern states of France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. He also controlled Lombardy as well.

Based on that is seems quite obvious why the French being the first of those current countries to become a coherent state, would adopt Charlemagne and the EU likewise. I have ready many books about Early Medieval History (admittedly none in German!) and I have never seen him referred to as anything other than Charles The Great or Charlemagne.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Burrell

Well, you have said it yourself, you have never read a German account, hence your unfamiliarity with Karl der Grosse.(KDG)

The German view of East Francia is very similar to your account of Neustria. However what language do you think KDG spoke? What sort of appearance did he have? Was he a swarthy little Gallic runt, or a huge, strapping, blonde, Germanic thug?

Our view of KDG has very much followed the French model, since at least the Entente Cordiale of 1904. Hence we invariably refer to Charlemagne. I must admit it does roll of the tongue with a certain “Je ne sais pas” does it not?

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

So he was either a Napoleon or one of Frederick the Great’s Potsdam Giants. Maybe the clue is in his father’s nickname! Although Charlemagne could have inherited his stature from his mother, whose identity is somewhat shrouded in mystery, as is much else from this period of history.

As for the EU, I quite like the idea of Angela the Great as the modern Holy Roman Empress.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Burrell

Can you have a sovereign Holy Roman Empress under Salic Law?

After all Mária Theresa was only one because of her husband.

Robert Lund
Robert Lund
3 years ago

All very interesting . But of course has little to do with Brexit. West , like all remainers , can only see the vote to leave the EU through the prism of racism and xenophobia. No doubt there were some who were motivated by these feellings but to the vast majority it was about democracy and sovereignty.
The “deal” reached in Brussels this week is an example how the EU is on a path to a form of dictatorship. The unelected EU Commission has seized control of tax and spend in the EU . The principle of “no taxation without representation ” has been thrown in the bin . This is just the start.
The UK must not allow itself to lose democracy and must remain a true self governing democratic Nation state where the people decide.
Irrespective of whether they feel more “comfortable” with Turks , Australians , Spaniards etc.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Lund

You need to read the news
Merkel+Macron (democratically elected) proposed the deal. The heads of the other stated (democratically elected) negotiated the deal.
National parliaments will have to approve the deal. Not very hard to understand the mechanics of it.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

And how many are likely to say ‘No’? None. The pressure to conform is far too great.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago

Have news for you Ed West.
The UK has already left the EU so it is pointless to be a member of any ‘side’ any longer.

You may just as well join the side of ‘Titanic-is-unsinkables’.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
3 years ago

The issue though is about taking back control, instead of hiding behind the EU our politicians will have to own whatever policies they implement and the effects of them. So don’t do things people like get booted out and leave or remain are irrelevant.

As for rejoining the EU. It would have to be a very different body with no single currency, more like a free trade area but with no free movement and thats about it and I can’t really see that happening.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

Like the EEC then? I agree.
I don’t actually mind FOM that much though – my issue was always that they had the *right* to come (I always thought refusal of entry should be allowed if someone is, for example, a known criminal) and it was very difficult to get them to leave (even criminals seem to have ‘rights’ to stay). Very unbalanced.

Hugh Pettit
Hugh Pettit
3 years ago

UKIP’s rise in the polls started when most immigration was from outside Europe because most immigration has always and consistently been from outside Europe. And being more favourable to European migration does not mean you want it to be unlimited.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Pettit

no migration = no growth for UK. And that is a very reasonable position. There is more to a country than GDP growth.
But that also means fewer (worst?) public services. And I remember very well that Leavers never promised that to the people.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I don’t personaly believe it was Leave’s responsibility to do anything of the sort. They made their case for leaving, the voters decided after due consideration, and not necessarily on points put forward by either side. It was NOT an election with a manifesto.
It was up to Remain, who wished to stay in the EU, to put forward the tremendous advantages they considered the EU offered and the disadvantages of leaving. They were unable to convince the electorate their case was stronger, and I suspect they also thought they were so self evidently correct that they never considered they might lose.
I cannot recall Remain suggesting anything remotely of more interest to me than the freedom to make our own way, independently, in the world, unrestrained by Brussels. I fully accepted my country might have a rocky road to start with, and I believe most Leave voters understood that.

Andy Redman
Andy Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Growing GDP through population expansion is like becoming obese and claiming obesity makes you stronger.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Endless population and economic growth is the reason why climate change is high on the agenda, not to mention a myriad other things. Immigration as a prop for the economy is a Ponzi scheme. Artificially create new ‘consumers’ who then need schools, pensions, hospitals, housing etc, which requires more tax to pay for it, which, apparently, requires more immigration. And so on. I noted that the proportion of immigrant workers in the NHS for example is pretty close to the number of immigrants in the country. It is self-reinforcing.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Pettit

When the EU was letting in millions of undocumented migrants of unknown origin, some of whom set fire to their camps, attacked locals and some were even jihadis, I have no doubt the British public started to see that inside the EU or outside the EU made little difference. Mutti Merkel let them in, unilaterally, and the Brits thought, hang on, if they all get German residency, will they have the *right* to come to the UK and we can do nothing about it? The answer was Yes. So the Brits said No,

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago

The only way is up now I reckon.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

“For the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied”.

Sorrel
Sorrel
3 years ago

An interesting thought experiment would be to get the aims of Oswald Mosley’s post-war “National Party of Europe” policies and see how much they resonate with committed Europhiles today: there is probably more cross-over than some committed progressives would like to admit.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Sorrel

Mosley Also had A European Flag, European Army and Uk populace Subservience to Berlin..He also Composed A ”European Anthem” .Interestingly Its funny how Remainers never mention the Connection between Scottish nationalists party and Nazis .in 1930s,1940s A few were imprisoned for sedition…The Writer has same arrogant illogical rant as Most Globalists /Remainiacs ….During Pandemic France and Germany closed Borders wih Eu states without telling Italy,Spain..my Guess Italy will leave next and South Meditteranean countries will Rebel

Martyn Hole
Martyn Hole
3 years ago

Is Unherd going the way of the Spectator ? I gave up on this article on paragraph 5 but curiously, I checked the author out. Here are his first two books:

How to Pull Women: The Science of Seduction (Summersdale, 2006) ISBN 184024545X
How to Get Hot Women Into Bed: Ultimate Seduction Techniques for Real Guys (Ulysses Press, 2008) ISBN 1569756686

Sad

David J
David J
3 years ago

The natural home for many has to be the Anglosphere and CANZUK.
I include present EU members such as the ROI.
And Scotland too, if it votes for independence.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
3 years ago

Sir,

Most of what you wrote regarding the USA is incorrect. Something “progressive” (read that communist) fellows from Britain oft do. As to black oppression by police, stop watching BritisHBroadcastingCommunism, the US mostly progressive media (all owned by Soros) and the Clinton’s and other traitorous DemocratSlaveryParty POLs. They lie. How do you know they lie? They breath. Start doing some real research. Black-on-Black killing is much more prevalent that (so-called) White-on-Black, by the police or anyone else in America. If brain dead Groper Joe wins then the alignment with Xi and the ChiComs (Xi owns the Clintons and the DemocratSlaveryParty along with Soros) will be complete…until the Civil War occurs and rest assured America is much more conservative than your feverish brain believes.

As to Brexit…it’s over. Live with it Boyo.

Frederick B
Frederick B
3 years ago

It would I suppose make sense for a Remainer to switch affections from the EU to the Anglosphere, for all the reasons which you set out, but it would make no sense for a Leaver motivated by nationalism to do the reverse – what, open us up to freedom of movement again?

It is unquestionably true that Leave would not have won the Brexit referendum without the votes of nationalists motivated by concern about freedom of movement. The government’s new immigration proposals may turn out to be even worse from a nationalist perspective, and will be seen as a betrayal, but in the absence of a viable nationalist party what are such voters to do?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

“…such voters…” embraced the charlatanism of Farage. Nothing stopped Farage from building a viable nationalist party.

Dudden Hall
Dudden Hall
3 years ago

Brexit is a green revolution that every country in the world will be forced to follow if they want to survive.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

‘France has traditionally seen its role as protecting Christians in the east,’

Their cynical mid-millennium alliances with the Ottomans say otherwise. Nice to know they’ve reverted to their better 1070 selves.

Paul S.
Paul S.
3 years ago

Because I have free time I tried to brush up my French language skills.
I discovered that it’s difficult to find French language TV free to watch which has subtitles (‘closed captions’) IN FRENCH.
This after 40 yrs in the EU/EC/EEC

Tony Hay
Tony Hay
3 years ago

The author can consider the hornets’ nest to be well and truely poked :).
It’s a fascinating idea, this switching of sides by leavers and remainers. And it’s entirely possible. After all, in the 1860s, who would have imagined the US Democrats becoming the party of choice for black voters in the 1930s and beyond? Could Unherd schedule a follow up article around 2120 to see how this is going?

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

The fact is, of course, that as a minor mid ranking power on its own outside the EU, the UK can have no sovereignty. Either the EU, which can be influenced, tells it what to do – or as in the case with huawei, the US will.

As long as the UK stays within the cultural orbit of the US it will be dominated by identity politics, which have little effect on the non Anglo-sphere; Columbus statues are not under threat in Spain or Italy (or South America). As such the worst excesses of American ideologies as well as Brexit will encourage more non EU immigration and demand quasi religious acknowledgement of “white privilege” whilst it’s about it.

The UK seems unlikely to secure a deal with the EU, under American pressure it has antagonised China, only the world’s biggest economy, and despite that the US isn’t entering any kind of agreement. Trump has just added to his tariffs on scotch by targeting gin. The excuse for previously targeting scotch was because the EU was state aiding Airbus, but the tariffs on scotch are on drinks made in Scotland, and the Brexit vote had happened before they were applied even if the UK was still in the EU. The new taxes on gin have no such excuse, it’s targeting the UK.

In short the UK has no friends in trade or otherwise.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

A very reasonable summary of the state of GB plc. An inevitable consequence of our unaffordable, bellicose behaviour, since 1914.

The extraordinary opportunity now offered by ‘The Great Panic’ (C-19), should be used by England to “jettison the parasites”, Ulster and Scotland, in that order. Given the bleak picture you correctly paint, we can no longer afford such ridiculous generosity.

However, no doubt we will still have a ‘friend’ in the Irish Republic, given our astonishing munificence to her, over so many years.

That visceral whinging, so prevalent in contemporary Scotland, seems to be almost totally absent in the Republic, which is most refreshing don’t you think?

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Well, yes and no. Ireland looks out for itself. Within the EU it worked with the UK against tax harmonisation and other areas of common concern.

With Brexit it’s pursuing its interests which don’t always align with the UK. On getting a trade deal the Irish would definitely want one, which is more than is true in other EU countries some of which seem to want to teach the UK “a lesson”. On the border though there is friction.

My main point: We all need to stop following the US down it’s increasingly insane ideological paths and take with a pinch of salt the anti Russian and anti Chinese rhetoric. The UK, and even the EU, can’t afford either. Nor does the purported deal with the US look favourable. The US should be seen as an actor in the world stage looking after its interests, and as in the 19C UK too has no friends, just interests.

A wiser government might play the Chinese against the US (we’ll abandon Huawei if the US deal is favourable), this administration has rolled over on Chinese trade to appease this US regime, which is particularly volatile and hasn’t responded with any reported concessions. In fact they recently announced more tariffs on UK gin, even after the UK has left the EU.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

You remind me rather of Basil Chamberlain Esq, who also contributes to these discussions and maintains a very similar standpoint to yours. If we “could turn the clock back” we might have more options. However, as things stand we are very nearly a wholly owned subsidiary of the US, perhaps not quite a poodle, but certainly a Client State.

The ongoing, very limited US “War on Terror/Islam”, is also supported, albeit, feebly by the EU. Whoever executed the 11th September attacks, it provided the perfect catalyst for a Crusade against Islam, in defence of Israel, and neither we or the EU could abjectly stand aside.

Given our relationship with China since the First Opium War of 1840, I think it highly unlikely that we will have a mutually satisfactory relationship with them.
Frankly, as you must know, their record of barbarism, both internal and external dwarfs anything either we or the US have ever achieved.

Mr Trump’S Gin Tax is somewhat disappointing, but it is early days, and he is in all probability distracted by other issues to give much thought to a G&T at the moment. However, I live in hope.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
3 years ago

There have always been a large number of Council-House Conservatives.

Using journalistic words like “progressive” and “liberal” doesn’t explain anything.

Michael Upton
Michael Upton
3 years ago

Thank you; as you suggest, Mr. West, it will take a decade to know if you are on to something, but, if I may say so, we could do with more journalism of this standard.
Michael Upton.
Advocates’ Library,
Parliament House,
Edinburgh.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

I think the reductive simplicity of the referendum debate explains why the thinking of both sides overlaps so much. EG I voted remain but accept we lost, and whilst i knew the EU was corrupt before i voted i found out a whole lot more about how corrupt after the vote, courtesy of Nigel Farrage, Claire Fox etc. Despite learning this i would stil vote remain if time were reversed, mainly for the selfish economic interests of myself, my family and my colleagues. The EU caused so much trouble in the UK for a number of reasons that were never mentioned in the debate. 1. Our public sector, like the clerics in HenryVIII’s day, work for themselves and not the public. They used EU directives to create jobs and power for their interest groups, not Joe Public. EG – bad horsemeat in burgers? France and Spain increased the tarifs for offenders and spent more on enforcement. UK? – Introduced Horse Passports!! We asked our nags for theirs and they said “neigh”. 2. Our legaI system is based on common
law, its rooted in the gipsies’ “Kanun of Leke” system designed for feuding tribes and clans. Even with the introduction of formal legislation it usually boils down to he with the most money wins. Europe’s Roman
Law system is based on testable facts and evidence. Sure it has its detractions, its not called Inquisitorial Law for nothing. However the laws in most of the EU apply to all citizens -EG the royal family in Spain has an in-law doing time for charity fraud. Ask yourself if that could happen here, or Thailand. KSA by comparison will jail minor royals who offend, which at least is a start. 3. The power and authority of the rulers in all EU countries is derived from the citizens, guaranteed by their consitutions. They have a long tradition of enforcing this either directly like France in the 1780s and 1840s or via unpleasant strong-men like Bismark or Franco who enjoyed majority support at least when they took power. I don’t include the NSDAP – though they won the ’33 election they had a lot of financial help from UK press Barons plus other vested interested here and in the US. By contrast we in Britain have no social contract with the governing elite. Our ability to enjoy life, liberty and happiness is at their pleasure, for millenia the monarch and their nobles, nowadays the executive and judiciary. The 3rd point is my main reason for wanting to stay in EU. As long as an extractive state can be brought to law by European Court, ICC in the Hague, ECHR etc there is at least some restraint on their worst instincts. We are now going to see what happens when that restraint is removed.

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Thank you for your considered post.
However, is not the ability of the EU populace to enjoy life, liberty and happiness, more often than not at the sole pleasure of Brussels?
Did anyone in Europe have a real opportunity to refuse to accept the Lisbon Treaty, and have the Frugal Four and their citizens really had any say in the present EU Covid Bailout? They have even less say on who gains power and rules them from Brussels than we do with our recourse to the ballot box every few years.
We have been hog tied and stymied by a natural event this Spring, but there has been talk of sorting out our higher courts, and much else. The Brexit Party may yet reinvent itself if required. Or have I misunderstood the concept?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Susan Lundie

I agree Brussels’ likes to claim these de jure but I expect the compromise allows the frugal 4 to send invoices south to get back some of what they’ve lost – otherwise they too may have exits. As far as Brussell’s TOR the de-facto power seems to stop at national, provincial and town council borders, certainly in rural Almeria where we have a property.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

I think you will find that access to/oversight of the ICC and the ECHR are not dependant on EU membership.
Yes, European peoples have often appointed “…strong men…” – and look how that has more often turned out.
All the best.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Lets hope these intra-national judiciaries jump in if the worst happens. I’m no optimistic – the odd Serbian war lord or Syrian prison doctor sure – but elected politicians from a former member state? Not hopeful

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Yes, more Turks and fewer Poles.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago

‘ironically, as it turns out, since the new trade deal will almost certainly mean more Turkish immigration than would have been allowed if we were in the EU’

I don’t think that’s a correct use of the word ‘ironically’

It’s an example of Boris promising people one thing, then doing the opposite once the votes are in.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Well said, treacherously is the correct word in this case.