by Peter Franklin
Thursday, 26
August 2021

The British Brit-bashers are at it again

Whatever the problem, some people always find a way to blame Brexit
by Peter Franklin
Credit: Getty

It’s been suggested that England is the only country “where the people feel Schadenfreude towards themselves”. 

I don’t know if that’s generally true of either the English (or the British as a whole), but it’s certainly true of our commentariat. No matter how international a problem might be, you can bet there’ll be someone willing to claim it for Queen and Country. A mess can sprawl over many borders, but we’ll still stick a Union Jack in it.

For instance, here’s Lionel Barber, ex-editor of the FT, commenting on America’s refusal to extend the evacuation in Kabul:

Strangely there’s no mention of the fact that America’s other allies, including France and Germany, made the same request and received the same refusal. So has the EU been “mugged by reality” too?

Andrew Rawnsley of The Observer was pursuing a similar line over the weekend, presenting the Afghanistan debacle as if it were all about us. He was particularly keen on debunking the idea of the ‘special relationship’ with the United States (another weird obsession of the liberal commentariat). 

It’s not just Afghanistan. The disruption of supply chains is a favourite weapon of British Brit-bashers. Pictures of empty shelves in supermarkets are avidly shared on Twitter (and The Guardian) while hashtags like #BrexitFoodShortages are sent trending. 

It would be foolish to ignore the problems caused by Brexit, yet it’s equally myopic to disregard the global chaos caused by Covid. The US is suffering supply chain problems too (and a substantially higher level of inflation than the UK). Meanwhile German industry, securely ensconced at the heart of the EU, is also experiencing disruption. China has just closed a major port because of a single case of Covid — and we can expect more the same as the Delta variant continues to wreak havoc around the world. 

But even the pandemic itself  — which is, by definition, global — gets the parochial treatment. The “plague island” label was an invention of the Anglophobic New York Times, but our own newspapers — including the Guardian — lapped-up the negative coverage.

Fortunately, we’ve had  better news since the dark days of December 2020. In particular, we’ve had the success of our vaccination programme — which has rather spoilt the Covid-shows-Britain-is-rubbish narrative. Nevertheless, if we can present ourselves in the worst possible light we’ll still do it.

It’s not that this country doesn’t have its problems. Of course, we do. But it really doesn’t help to conceive of them as peculiarly British when they’re not. Indeed, there’s an odd sort of arrogance in believing that they are. 

Join the discussion

  • This is so true. It is not a new phenomena, either. Any other country can celebrate its national day with pride. Try it here and you will be called a fascist, or a jingoist, a xenophobic, a BNP supporter, racist scum and worse!
    On The Independent commenting forum, someone wrote “it was all the fault of the the elderly halfwits that voted Leave” ( “it being the food shortages and lack of HGV drivers) and the comment was allowed. I wrote that there was no need for nasty comments, and we should be able to discuss things without resorting to name calling, and my comment was removed. Perhaps the Indy isn’t so Indy after all?

  • The Guardian is far and away the most dangerous publication in the UK. Its circulation is paltry, yet its influence is enormous and pernicious. The Guardian has an “on-air” wing in the shape of the BBC. It is also required reading for the legions of metropolitan fauxialists who manage practically every quango and institution in the country. Not to mention that it is the go-to news source for the vast majority of the teaching profession.
    So although circulation figures are ever dwindling, it informs the worldview of a great many people who influence the agenda and shape the country’s – not to mention our children’s – future. Most Islington-dinner-party tropes began life on the pages of the G and from there become the received wisdom of bien pensant Liberal Left.
    The Britain hating, race-baiting, class-envy, history-revisionist, woke, pc leftist clap-trap that so many of us complain about across these pages, is largely down to the Guardian dripping its poison every day, thirstily imbibed by the very people who influence and skew the national discourse.
    These people are not at all representative of the country at large – but thanks to Guardian-TV, in the shape of the BBC, their voice becomes much, much louder than it should be.
    They are relentlessly negative about this country. But for each of the anecdotal instances that get trumpeted as “proof” of widespread intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc in this country there are a million other instances of just everyday acceptance of people, – regardless of immutable characteristics or lifestyle choices – that are not worthy of anecdote simply because they are so everyday. But that which doesn’t fit the narrative goes unreported.
    These people view everything through a miserabilist, catastrophist lens – and almost seem to be willing their dystopian outlook into existence. Presumably so they can console themselves in a sanctimonious circlejerk of “I told you so”
    We can argue about what causes this desire in some people to claim we are a nasty, xenophobic, intolerant country – but I hope most honest people would agree that it is not an accurate reflection of this country – at all – and does us no favours at a time when we should be putting the most positive view of Britain to the rest of the world.

  • Global Britain is quite simply a statement of fact, and a statement of intent. It is a fact that the UK lives in a “globalised” world, in a world bound together ever more intimately by travel and media; and it is a statement of intent to live positively in it, but with the crucial proviso that key political decisions about how to live with it, for instance immigration, are subject to political oversight. Both dimensions are sina qua nons of existence in our world, which is why the EU is in such a permanent emergency: it does not enjoy legitimacy. Tony Barber and Philip Stevens knowingly misrepresent “Global Britain” as jingoism, so that they can rejoice in the way that Biden has sh…t on his close ally. What they fail to say is that for decades both of these gentlemen have been arguing in favour of “influence” in Washington DC and in Brussels, in other words in brown-nosing. Given the chance to express an opinion on this stance, the British electorate delivered a damning verdict on June 23, 2016. And as Biden has demonstrated, this posture is not conducive to realistic policy.

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