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article imageOp-Ed: Brexit — A history of British exits does not bode well

By Paul Wallis     Apr 21, 2016 in World
London - Britain has a unique history of exiting from successes. The nation started the 20th century as a super power with a global empire, and wound up as a sort of irrelevant automatic teller machine. A Brexit could greatly enhance that role.
A British exit from the EU may well go down in British history as yet another in a list of glorious failures. Currently, America is expressing reservations about a Brexit. According to The New York Times, the risks to the region are considerable, with Russia actively promoting friction within the EU. Americans may be reassured that in the whole of its history, Britain has never once exited from anywhere with the even slightest interest or comprehension regarding the effects of its moves on itself or anything else. Every exit has led to total failure in some form.
Exits, in fact, are part of the great British master game plan of national failures. Arguably, the last successful exit of Britain from anything at all was the establishment of the Church of England, and exit from the Roman Church. Since then, exits have been pretty grim affairs. The American Revolution, based on a few paltry long distance pence worth of taxes, resulted in the exit of Britain from the US. Exits from coalitions in both stopped and restarted the Napoleonic wars.
In the middle of the 19th century, a sort of Thatcheresque corporate paradise reigned — a British company running the world. The East India Company ran India and was helpfully starting wars to force the Chinese to buy opium. Everyone was suddenly very British, the Empire was very profitable, and making money. The workhouses for the poor were just quaint sidelights.
The British preference for exiting anything and everything may have something to do with their even more disastrous entrances in to other areas — while this Utopian, if smartphone-less, imperial idyll was in progress, came the First World War, the stupidest and most pointless war in history.
Against its usual policy of total but sincere indifference to European catfights, Britain entered the war. Entry was based on the death of an Austrian Archduke and the half-baked notion that late starter in imperial ambitions Germany was some sort of serious threat to the Empire, which it wasn’t.
The result of this war was to bankrupt the nation, take millions of casualties, and start the exit from the Empire and super power status. It was the original pattern for the almost psychopathic modern British need to avoid success at all levels, at any cost. Taxes skyrocketed, the social order became extinct, and the Depression buried the next generation quite effectively.
(If you read the biographies of people who fought in that war, it’s interesting to note their resentment that it ever happened at all. It was an unmitigated catastrophe for all involved. Their happy, peaceful world was replaced by the maniacal “modern” world, and a generation was killed and maimed for no particular reason.)
In the Second World War, Britain exited France from Dunkirk, held on by its sheer pigheadedness, and lucked out with Hitler’s declaration of war on the US in December 1941. (The Americans wanted to fight Japan after Pearl Harbor, but Hitler saved them the trouble of finding excuses for fighting him. Britain could never have invaded Europe on its own.)
A few military disasters and the world’s worst war later, the net result was the postwar final exit from the Empire and further useful impoverishment of the nation with massive debt. Next came Britain’s exit from its industrial power base, probably a political move, and entry into the Common Market, with all its cultural wonders and easy cultural fits for the nations involved, most of which had recently been trying to destroy each other.
Later Britain succeeded in exiting Hong Kong, one of the world’s leading commercial regions, maintaining an unbroken record of mindless exits and ignoring the obvious option of asking Hong Kong to vote on its future. Deng Xiao Ping said they’d burn the city if HK didn’t return to China, a lie, based on the gigantic amounts of Chinese money which was flowing through HK with or without return to China and regardless of the fact that an offshore cinder would hardly be a useful acquisition for the Chinese. Thatcher believed him, and another masterly exit from prosperous business was achieved.
Britain has always been a trading nation, back to Roman times, even before the Roman invasion. Europe won’t be moving to another planet any time soon. Will Britain continue to trade with Europe? Will reimposing national barriers help or hinder trade?
Now the new generation of master minds are bringing their massive, not to say cumbersome, intellects to bear on the Brexit. Replace EU bureaucracy with British bureaucracy. Create a new island nation which is quite indistinguishable from the original in any way, particularly at the bottom line, and call it progress.
Let’s clarify — “Muddling through” is one thing. “Muddling to death” is quite another thing. Reworking every treaty, every trade arrangement, and every petty detail of business with Brexit has all the signs of the highest traditions of British inefficiency and incoherence. Trade advantages are nominal, net costs unknown, and creating barriers, real or possible, to your own trade has absolutely nothing to be said for it. The breakup of the UK is unlikely, but technically possible.
One thing you can be sure of, though — British exit strategies will not cease until Catford is an independent archipelago and Buckingham Palace is part of another country altogether. It’s in the tea leaves, duckies — with all the other half-baked ideas of British history.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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