Overseas territories and Post Brexit Britain

| February 2, 2020

Dickson Igwe, Senior political contributor

Brexit is simple English Tribalism.

A redefined relationship between the Post Brexit UK and the British Overseas Territories is inevitable, if as is expected, the turmoil of a Post Brexit Britain becomes convulsion. Britain is going to be reshaped by Brexit in myriad ways.

For now, there can be no predicting how Brexit will fully impact UK politics, economy, and society. Anyone who states that they can predict the future of a Post Brexit Britain is deluded.

Now, Germany is the major power in Europe. And it tears Brexiters apart that a country that Britain- with the help of the USA, and Russia in WW2- defeated twice in two bloody world wars, is the dominant country of Europe.

In the Brexit psyche – which is profoundly an English phenomenon, and not in any way Scottish, Welsh, or Irish- there is a great fear of the Englishman becoming a type of ‘’amorphous European.’’

Remainers like this Old Boy are the enemy within. We are the rootless cosmopolitans: ‘Remoaners’. Remainers cannot be trusted to uphold ‘’Britishness, ‘’ or better stated, ‘’Englishness.’’

That is the reason Brexit is viewed as a throwback to colonialism and imperialism by a number of intellectuals. And there is good reason. Brexit is all hubris and emotion. That may be one reason why Overseas Territories of Great Britain were essentially ignored in the debate that led to today’s withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. One can wonder if a Brexit referendum was held in the OTs what the result would be: this Old Boy has no doubt the OTs would have voted to remain in the EU.

In the mind of the Brexiter there are only two types of power: imperial power and colony: dominant and dominated. That has been the driver of Brexit: not economic logic, social welfare, or political pragmatism. Brexit is, was, and always will be, hubris and English nationalism.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo courtesy https://www.scmp.com/

Brexit is the inability of the Brexiter to live with the fact that Britain’s greatest perceived triumph, the defeat of Hitler’s Germany in two world wars, led 50 years later to a unified Europe, dominated by Germany. The enemy that Britain defeated twice in the 20th Century is today the dominant power in Europe.

Die hard Brexiters simply cannot handle that fact: that a Europe of middle powers such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, are dominated by a resurgent Germany, under the Treaty of Rome.

But Germany has no interest in ruling Europe. That is clear from German politics and society, from the time of the Great German Unification in the early 1990s. Germany’s dominant position is that of a reluctant giant. Germany’s huge manufacturing and economic power is what has placed Germany at the center of Europe. Brexiters cannot see or accept that.

Brexit essentially, is English insecurity. Deep down, Brexiters view the European Union as a continuation of previous attempts by a German and Central European hegemony to control Europe, and dominate the countries, cultures, and economies of Europe.

Brexit is viewed as the great resistance to this insidious attempt by Germany to use the institutions of Europe to ‘’rule the roost.’’ That is why the language of the Brexiter is aggressive, exclusive, xenophobe, insular, and even racist.

The great paradox of Brexit is that the United Kingdom, very much like the European Union, is a union of countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. These countries remain within the union voluntarily, as long as over 50% of voters in those countries are happy with a United Kingdom.

There is a move from political forces in Scotland and Northern Ireland, for independence from the UK, of these two countries, and then entry into the EU. Will this actually happen? Maybe! No one can tell. Such is the Post Brexit uncertainty.

Then there are the Overseas Territories, such as these Virgin Islands – throwbacks from the era of pure colonialism – that have over decades, been granted a great amount of autonomy in economic and social matters, but remain very much within the old colonial mould, in spite of the huge political freedoms they have been granted by Westminster and Whitehall.

Brexit has been described as a refusal to accept realpolitik.

The UK is no longer an imperial power. Brexit is described as English nationalism. Brexit is a type of ‘’heady drug.’’ Like the Falklands War, Brexit is a reminder of the past greatness of a colonial and imperial Britain.

The other components and countries of the UK are under no such illusion. They live in today’s world.

Scotland is pro- European, and so are Wales and Northern Ireland. Over 50% of the UK population are remain and the only reason the UK is in the predicament it is in today is because of its First Past the Post Model of voting that offers enormous power to a government, where even if that government wins a minority of the votes in an election, it is given all the levers of power. The UK Prime Minister with a majority in Parliament is very much an Elected Dictator.

In any event Brexit is at the starting point. That is another great irony. Those voters who believed a Boris Johnson Government would be the end of the Brexit saga are in for frustration and disappointment. The pains of Brexit- the UK leaving its natural trading and economic home – are just beginning.

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Category: African Caribbean, Culture & Society

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.

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