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Brexit & the Woman of Steel!

- the following article is part of a series of narratives on the Brexit matter
Dickson Igwe. Photo: VINO
By Dickson Igwe

Now, the real tragedy of Brexit, in this Old Boy’s opinion, is that it diminishes all UK citizens, subjects, and nationals – and that includes Overseas Territory Citizens of Britain, such as Virgin Islanders. It offers British Citizens a future that is hard to envision, and unpredictable. It reduces the opportunities of present and future generations of playing a full role in the world’s largest economic, cultural, and social bloc: The European Union.

To be a citizen of Britain is today a limited affair after the Brexit Vote, especially when compared to being a citizen of a Europe of 27 countries that may one day become a federal super state. Prior to Brexit, Virgin Islanders with a UK-EU Passport were full EU Citizens. Post Brexit there is no guarantee that this privilege will remain.

Furthermore, Brexit has unleashed the racist and xenophobic passions of a small minority of Britain’s working class. This has made migrants and even minority Britons insecure and weary. But even more tragic is the fact that many of the leaders of Brexit are today admitting that they stretched the truth about the supposed financial and social benefits of leaving the EU. Then they resigned their posts. They admitted that they had deceived the people they governed.

OK. Brexit smacks of nostalgia. It is all about emotion. Britain leaving Europe is a hearkening back to the time Britain was a mercantilist world empire with the sun rising and setting simultaneously over a landmass stretching to the tens of thousands of miles, from North to South and from East to West.

The Empire of Britain possessed a manufacturing and shipping omniscience that created and distributed the world’s major brands: Rolls Royce, Rover, Holland and Holland, Morris, Cunard, Lloyds, Cadburys, Burberry, Lyles. This was before the advent of the United States as the foremost industrial power post World War 2.

In the early 1900s, from Mumbai to Canberra, Harare to Lagos, Kingston to Bermuda, Port of Spain to Nassau, and Ottawa to Singapore, the British Elite were an officer class: an idiosyncratic fraternity of impeccable credentials. Born to ensure the integrity of the King’s or Queen’s Realm, the British Gentleman was schooled at Eton, Harrow, Sandhurst and Oxford. He proceeded from there to a career in the army, politics, clergy, City of London, Trading Company, or Foreign Service

The British Empire was in essence a ruling culture. It was a way of life that was amazing in its efficiency, effectiveness, and ruthlessness. It manifested itself in a gentlemanly camaraderie composed of ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

Most of these were men and women of wealth who identified very personally with the ownership of thousands of acres of land in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, hence the phrase Landed Gentry. Some of these members of the British gentry owned scores of villages, and even entire towns.

As a matter of fact, they did not have to work for a living. The men were scions of the oldest and most privileged families in Britain. They were aristocrats of the bluest blood. Many held arcane and archaic orders going all the way back to the Norman Conquest, and even Charlemagne. They were all related in some way to Queen Victoria and her forbears, or linked to the Royal Family in a feudal type arrangement that went back to some war or major intrigue of history. A number of wives were also first or second cousin to their spouse.  

The British Aristocrat was the incredibly privileged member of a Governing Academy with blood links to all of Europe’s royal families. He ruled the roost. Lord Churchill or Viscount Eden wore pajamas derived from India, and drank Darjeeling Teas. When not barking commands to the natives, he played cricket in Bridgetown, chased lions in Kenya, and clashed sticks with fellow officers at the polo club in New Delhi or Singapore. He was the consummate equestrian, a skilful mariner, and gifted in the sciences of war.

He ran after butterflies in Burma with a special net made for that eccentric purpose. He collected stamps in Cape Town, shot partridges in Aldershot, and led military expeditions in North, Central, and Southern Africa. He would spend the entire day training his parrot in the subtleties of Latin, while a coolie handling a large fan kept his Master cool from the lethal heat of a mid day sun. In the cool of the evening he headed for the country club, to a cocktail party, welcoming the Colonial Viceroy and his Royal Wife to their new posting.

HRH went on foolhardy excursions to the Himalayas, and explored the world’s most remote and inaccessible regions. He read Shakespeare and Chaucer while seated on a white sand beach in the Virgin Islands, and then he set sail for the world’s great oceans on royally commissioned frigates, all the while ensuring the Queen’s English, British culture, and the economic and commercial interests of empire, were the first and the last ports of call. He was utterly ruthless, steely, and oddly stoic, in protecting the interests of his King or Queen.

On the other side of the class spectrum of the early 1900s, Britain possessed a massive working class. This was the majority of the population. There was no middle class of any significance, or the middle class was just beginning to grow, a child of the Industrial revolution of the late 1700s and the Enlightenment. In essence these working classes were peasants. They lived in very poor housing, died prematurely, and suffered terribly in winter from their inability to afford adequate heating, and even hot food.

The working class was a servitude class. Survival meant catering for, and serving, the sons and daughters of wealth and privilege. The peasants were the deferential poor. The British working man fawned upon his rulers who he considered his betters, his superiors, and his benefactors. It is paradoxical that it was the progeny of this same class that voted to exit the European Union.

That Britain of the early 1900s no longer exists. Britain is today exponentially less of a power when compared with those times. Britain remains a world power, however. It is the world’s fifth largest economy. But it could be argued that even that metric is threatened by its withdrawal from Europe.

The world today is governed by regional blocs and superpowers. To have real significance countries must belong to one of these power polarities.

And make no mistake! Brexit is a very big deal indeed. Matt O’Brien writing in the Washington Post of June 27, 2016, stated the following about Brexit: “this could be the beginning of the end of the Euro, the European Union, and the Liberal International Order itself.” O’Brien shares a hope that many have, that “Britain may yet back away from the brink, and Europe fix the flaws in its currency and bureaucracy to head off any more nationalist uprisings.”

However, Brexit, “might really be the end of the EU: France and Italy may follow Britain out the door. Brexit might also be the end of the UK, if Scotland and Northern Ireland decide that they would rather be part of the EU.” One benefit of Brexit for the Virgin Islands is that Britain is expected to become a type of Singapore Off Europe after her divorce from the European Union. The country is expected to become a boon for the global 1% as a wealth management paradise. This could offer spinoffs for Virgin Islands Financial Services and make the industry more secure after all the ill winds that have been blowing over the industry in the past 24 months.  

OK. Post Brexit, British politics has become a “backstabber’s” paradise. In both major political parties, Labour and Conservative, it is all about “watching the proverbial back.” And if one is at the top of the political totem pole, it is expecting a thrust of a lethal dagger, plunged deeply between the shoulder blades and up to the hilt to ensure certain death.

This Machiavellian footplay could happen at any moment, and derive from the most unexpected source. Parliamentary Politics in Britain is approaching a type of anarchy Post Brexit. The Conservative Home Secretary, The Right Honourable Theresa M. May was chosen by Conservative MPs as the Post Brexit Prime Minister and began her task on July 13, 2016. Theresa Mary May is a steely, unbending, and highly intelligent type. She is what a Britain in crisis requires at this time.

And she will have her work cut out. Her new job, negotiating Britain’s ill advised exit from the Europe Union will be no picnic. Then, there is no guarantee even that Brexit will take place. A recent poll shows that the buyer’s remorse after Brexit is so great that if a referendum were held today, that Britons would stay in the EU. In fact, Brexit looks like a political loser in the medium to long term for English politicians.

Bear in mind this fact: Brexit was a Conservative Party Internal Affair mostly. Then there were the Union Jack Fanatics in the UK Independence Party of Nigel Farage who were the “HOORAY HENRIES” in the process. Brexit was a battle between at the most two hundred English politicians. However, the result is that millions of people in Britain, including Overseas Territory Citizens, have been well and truly “TRAMPLED ON.” Forgive the cliché! 

Nearly 70 million people have been put at a disadvantage in terms of their ability to engage on an equal basis with the Citizens of Europe, and even US Citizens. And all because Prime Minister David W.D. Cameron played with a wager and lost. The Brexit Referendum was a simple bet within the British Conservative Party. And Cameron lost that bet. Sadly, 70 million people will suffer as a result.

The first tragedy of Brexit is that there is a threat that the UK will not survive as it is presently formed. Scotland and Northern Ireland may well leave the Union in the coming years as these countries wish to remain in Europe, as evidenced by voting intentions during the Brexit Referendum. How that reduction in the size of the UK will affect the Virgin Islands is above this Old Boy’s pay grade. 

To be continued…

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6 Responses to “Brexit & the Woman of Steel!”

  • pat (16/07/2016, 08:40) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
    we need to hear about local issues please
    • @pat (16/07/2016, 10:24) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      You should appreciate the commentary and educate youself on world affairs because it will become a local issue.
  • Traveler (16/07/2016, 19:22) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    The EU will still go on, in fact it will get stronger and more integrated now the UK is no longer there to obstruct. The EU will be the new melting pot for diverse cultures and will overtake the USA in wealth and power.

    But the UK will become the USA's stepping stone (more accurately, doormat) into the EU.
  • A comment (17/07/2016, 02:20) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The status quo says, we are comfortabe so don't change, don't move. Those who suffer say let us try something else, let us go in another direction. Europe has to change. England did well. By the way this is a local issue because it is going to have an impact on us. Notice how politicans are again raising the issue of independent. They seem to think that England will be weaker, not important to the world. Don't bet on this idea.
  • Opinion (17/07/2016, 20:08) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    I hope the US dominance in everything is drastically reduced. Even be that the USA has wonderful things about it
    that in some ways have been superior to other nations or regimes. However it has become a bully and seems to
    think everything belongs to the US. That is like Hitler coming to power again. While all nations and cultures of the
    human race bear the sicknesses of the human race - it is exceedingly dangerous for one country to control everything.
    The problems of the BVI here and now are due to threatening behaviour from the United States Government, which
    has long since run amok. England can do fine by itself and so can Europe. My peon suggestion is cut ties with the US.
  • 2 cents (19/07/2016, 23:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Intellectual Ghetto "

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