Pissed-off Toff bemoans the terrible effect that Brexit is having on friendships, and reflects that in this debate, it is the so-called ‘liberals’ who are the least liberal.
I write this late at night, shamed into it by a friend who, while driving me to a nearby Underground station after a party which we attended earlier this evening, mentioned that he would be working into the early hours on a project which demanded his attention; whereas my plan had been altogether less demanding. So as the midnight candle burns, my chosen topic is the all-too-familiar one of the awful effect that Brexit is having on friendships.
At the cosmopolitan party that I have just left, all except myself were, I think, bien-pensant Remainers. They were glamourous, good-looking, well-connected and well-educated. I have known many of them for many years. Every single one of them speaks at least two European languages more or less fluently.
In one corner of the drawing room a high-ranking EU official of roughly my age held forth to a receptive audience on the idiocy of the Brexiteers. Knowing that it would be unwise to propose a contrary view, I sat down at the piano and attempted the role of entertainer. Later, I gave an imitation, in Italian with the appropriate Roman accent, of how, one evening on a terrace half-way down the via dei Serpenti, the Prince Massimo had once explained to me (and I can’t think why he did) that he aimed to spend no more than 40% of his net annual income, and to put aside the rest. The imitation seemed to go down well. Anyhow, it established my cosmo-credentials beyond doubt.
So there I was, an Englishman who speaks – or who once spoke – both French and Italian to native standard and who cannot therefore be dismissed as a dim yokel, in a room with a group of cosmopolitan friends … with all of whom I was in fundamental disagreement on the one huge issue of our time: Brexit.
As I see it, the EU is not just a mad utopian construct, but it is also an underhand project aimed at destroying the legitimate nation-states of Europe by hook or by crook. As regards the United Kingdom and our Monarchy, it is without doubt a slow-motion coup d’état. Indeed, all Remainers are guilty of high treason … that is to say, guilty of encompassing and envisaging the betrayal and destruction of our country. I don’t see how, in logic or law, this can be denied. The fundamental purpose of the EU is to blend all the countries of Europe into one state; its primary purpose, therefore, is to abolish the nation states of Europe; and any subject of Her Majesty The Queen who goes along with this is, necessarily and in logic, a traitor.
By this token, many of my friends – half of them, perhaps – are traitors. One of them, whose friendship I would really not like to lose, will not stop talking about Brexit, even though I have signalled to him that this is a topic which, between the two of us, is best left unexplored. One of the great things about my friendships with men is that sex will never play a part. So, as I see it, unless I mess things up on a spectacular scale, these friendships will last for ever. But Brexit is putting an end to this. From this particular chap for whom I have only the greatest brotherly affection, the emails keep coming.
And at almost every single social event, this topic is a curse. I keep my own counsel on the whole, but not long ago, at another euro-evening, an attractive girl teased out of me the information that I am, in fact, entirely in favour of Brexit. If she didn’t slap me in the face, she might as well have done so. I excused myself and went and played the piano.
So what does one do, among friends, about Brexit? My policy, in so far as possible, is to not talk about it. But the trouble is, my Remainer friends won’t let it go. Conversationally, it is an unstoppable itch; and more generally, a civil war ripping friendships and families apart. However, whilst the Leavers are farily tolerant of the views of Remainers, or at any rate prepared to leave their views unquestioned, the same is not true the other way round. Put another way, the Remainers, who see themselves as enlightened liberals, could hardly be less liberal when it comes to dealing with anyone who disagrees with them.
Illiberal liberals? Well yes, it’s the story of our times. But I did learn one thing this evening. The friend who drove me to the Underground in an enviable sports car might or might not use the viscountcy he has recently inherited. I asked him, because I like to know what to write on envelopes. He told me he wasn’t sure … although I have a sneaking suspicion as to which way he will go.
To be a viscount or not to be a viscount? That, at any rate, won’t destroy any friendships.