Brexit, a Shameful Shambles

When Sir Tim Barrow delivered the letter triggering Article 50 to Donal Tusk my reaction was one of dismay at a severe blow to the ideal of Europe.

That letter, so longed for by the corrupting influence of the tabloid press, was an act of regressive backwardness. An act that they were prepared to tell any lie to see happen. From bendy bananas to Polish immigrants there wasn’t anything the tabloids wouldn’t use to constantly attack Europe.

British Eurosceptic opinion has always been attached to the political right, best expressed through the tabloids whose entire political agenda was fundamentally anti-European and pro-American. When Prime Minister Edward Heath sought to take Britain into the EEC he also favoured a wider pro-European policy, even favouring an Anglo-French nuclear system. This policy was, in my view, best for Europe and best for Britain.

Following the emergence of Thatcherism our political elite started to become more pro-American and less inclined to the European ideal. This was a serious policy mistake as it led Britain to start believing in this laughable notion ‘the Special Relationship’ which the French enjoy deriding saying of the Special Relationship ‘only one side knows it exists’.

After the signing of the Maastricht treaty the tabloids went to work on the European ideal. No lie was too much to try and destroy the principle of building a better, stronger and safer Europe. Britain was becoming an increasingly half-hearted and detached member of the European Community deluding itself that it held a special place in the hearts of Washington policy makers. From the government of John Major to Gordon Brown any major EU initiative was met with scorn from the tabloids, and the politicians ran for cover, terrified of the vilification and mockery they would receive on the front pages of the daily rags.

So, after decades of European cooperation the daily rags have won the day. Article 50 has been triggered and the EU looks in a perilous situation. All the great achievements of Europe, from an extraordinarily successful process of integrating Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the European Space Agency to providing freedom to hundreds of millions who, within living memory were either living under Nazism or Communism, now count for very little. The rags of the British press have bought all their cynicism and spite to bear telling thousands of lies in the process.

Europe could have been a wonderful experiment of peace making. An experiment copied in Asia, Africa, South America and beyond. But because of daily attacks from the rag press the EU ideal is now on shaky ground, surrounded by a massive explosion in cheap populism that could end up with a President Marine Le Pen in France.

Brexit is not a wonderful moment, it’s not a democratic moment; it’s a moment where cheap populism replaced proper thinking politics. Had we followed the path set out by Ted Heath Britain and Europe would be in a better place.