It might equally be called The Game that Dare Not Speak its Name. For it surely has become a game, between those who want Boris gone and those who want the EU gone. It’s as if the British Prime Minister is trying to prove something about his education or his lifestyle. He keeps telling us ‘With one bound Dan Dare will break free’ but then Dan Dare doesn’t. Most likely we are simply watching everyone attempt to prove that whatever happens next is not their fault.
It is, in fact, the fault of Democracy, that right of voters to say what they think and then vote for it. A quick glance around the world tells you that people are fed up with the existing order. From Hong Kong to Madrid there is disquiet about the Establishment. So, better a riot inside the Parliament than outside it. Better still, no riot at all but sensible compromise. We should prefer a cool look at what is going wrong with Authority than a war to show who is strongest.
The European Union was originally called The European Economic Community. It was an attempt to avoid another disastrous war in Europe. Those whose recent history at school was WWI and who lived through WWII knew the causes of conflict, originally a single highly competitive family who had purloined the thrones of the rich European countries. Blame Queen Victoria if you like, but it was her relatives who quarreled. Blame the British Empire if you must, but it was unbridled competition and greed that led to war. Blame technology if all else fails, but that merely provided the means of self-destruction. Rather as it is about to do to the United Kingdom.
The greatest lesson to be learnt from Europe today is that you must establish economic compatibility before you aim for social cohesion. In investing circles they call it ‘Follow the money’. It may not sound very cool but it makes eminent sense. Sort out your joint finances before you marry. Afterwards, decisions are clouded by emotions – and not always the nicest ones. You will quarrel over losses but even more over gains.
Fake news wasn’t invented by Boris Johnson but he has rather epitomised it with his opportunist attempt to be the ringleader who started the next conflict in Europe. At a time when the world’s survival demands cooperation he is trying to heat up competition. When voting clearly shows a country split between Leave and Remain, the leader fuels dissention? Such ambition suggests a need for better leadership. Such stupidity calls for political restraint.
The United Kingdom is no longer united, European Union or not. Scotland has its own Parliament with very different views about Continental Europe which appear to be almost neglected by Westminster. Ireland is moving inexorably towards uniting as one country, as it certainly should be. The Welsh, bless them, want more independence than they have – and why not. The daft thing is that all this could happen and we could still be United in our approach to the world – through the European Union.
If the greatest lesson of Europe is ‘economics first’, the second greatest lesson is that Britain is in the process of losing the best chance it ever had to influence the future of Europe – as a big and respected member of the Community. Until very recently, Britain had a well-deserved reputation of masterly creativity, sound Civil Service management and reliable, if somewhat amusing, politics. That reputation is tarnished but not obliterated. It can still be Great.
If Britain leaves the European Union now it will be begging to re-engage within a decade.
And all the flim-flam of leaving will be seen for what it is.
A scandalous waste of time.