Anthony Bennett is the author of a book called “The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump”. The author writes that Brexit was the result of successive breaches of trust on the part of the British ruling class. This included the calamity of the Iraq war, the 2008 financial crash and the bank bailout, paid for, not by bankers, but by the people. Along with these two events you got the decline of the monarchy, the constitutional reforms, the decline of the patrician class and the parallel rise of a celebrity mediocracy. Worse
was the English disenfranchisement and the lack of a specific English parliament, which meant that Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish have their feelings of identity catered to, but not the English.
An IPPR survey of 2014 found that, being deprived of a credible, representative power that belongs to them, people rebelled, not against the English politicians who presided over the series of mis-steps, but against the most remote authority of all – the EU. It is not the EU itself, Barnett argues, that is the main target of Brexit, but the unrepresentative British State. Only when England has dispensed with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (mainly the legacy of the Norman Conquest, nearly 1000 years ago), can England free itself to be a European country.
There are, of course, several other factors: immigration, nostalgia for lost world influence, the dissatisfaction of older, conservative people, the lingering class system, the loss of a feeling of community, the growing discourtesy and perceived lack of respect. And of course, economic problems, not the least of which are short-term work contracts and a growing gap between rich and poor. One could go on, but the author’s comments about the constitution are interesting. I for one identify with the constitutional observation, although I have never thought it through or articulated my feelings. The United Kingdom increasingly seems to be a throwback, a relic of empire. If the Scots want independence, well, why not. All these smaller entities could have been accommodated under the EU umbrella. But we missed the opportunity.