In this third instalment of his diary, Pissed-off Toff suggests that the long-term existence of the British monarchy is incompatible with membership of the EU; and on a more personal level, he reflects on despair.
When I lived in Italy, it soon became clear to me that it was a waste of time to attempt to follow the country’s politics. Against a kaleidoscopic background of shifting alliances, a series of unstable coalition governments lurched from one crisis to another. But no one faction ever got the upper hand entirely, so nothing ever changed much. Politics was just a noisy opera buffa that the wise man ignored while he and his family navigated the waters of everyday life.
I never thought I’d say it … but if only it were the same here. So caught up am I in the national drama that is unfolding in front of us that I have achieved nothing constructive for weeks. Surely we are living through one of the most significant and fast-moving periods of our history since the Norman invasion; and if we fail to leave the despotic European Union, the United Kingdom is finished as a nation state. It is as simple as that.
Just as in the autumn of 1066, things might so easily go either way. At least in those days two men and their armies fought it out honestly on the battlefield. Now, however, the future of our country is decided by schemers and tricksters via subterfuge, evasion and legal chicanery.
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Take, for example, the recent programme in which ITV’s Joe Pike interviews Jeremy Corbyn. Eight times Pike asks the would-be prime minister whether he is in favour of Leave or Remain, and eight times he dodges the question.
Whilst paying lip-service to the result of the referendum, Corbyn says that we cannot possibly leave without a deal, and adds – as though he knows what the voters voted for better than they do – that “No-one voted to lose their job.” Indeed they didn’t. They voted to leave the EU. He then explains that he’d have a second referendum giving the voters a choice between a) Remaining and reforming EU from the inside; and b) A new leave deal which Labour would negotiate with the EU.
Once again, Corbyn reveals himself to be both delusional and mendacious.
As long experience has shown, and as he surely knows, it is not possible to reform the EU from the inside. So if we remain, we must accept the slow march towards the abolition of ourselves as a nation state – a direction of travel about which the EU’s founding fathers were quite clear, as are its present leaders.
And then Corbyn’s claim that he will negotiate a great new ‘leave’ deal, to be put the electorate of the UK. Since his position is that a no-deal leave would not be acceptable, he would, in logic, have to accept any terms that EU were to dictate, no matter how bad. So there would be no negotiation involved; simply acceptance of whatever the other party wants; and the choice offered by Corbyn would be to remain in an EU which has now shown itself to be actively hostile towards us; or to leave on terms so bad that we might as well remain.
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For its dishonesty, the Corbyn interview takes some beating. But it was matched by the shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry whom I recently watched, I think on Question Time, also paying lip-service to the result of the referendum. Yes, she said, of course we must respect the wishes of the voters and leave the EU. Of course. However, she continued, as a politician with the welfare of the people in mind, she could not possibly see this country ‘crashing out’ and ‘drifting off into the Atlantic’. That was out of the question, she insisted with an ugly scowl, tiny piggy eyes flashing angrily from somewhere inside her bloated face.
Again, for sheer mendaciousness, this is unbeatable. Since ‘crashing out’ and ‘drifting off into the Atlantic’ are Remainers’ synonyms for ‘leaving’ or ‘making a clean break’ (and Thornberry is a committed Remainer), she was actually saying: “I respect the voters’ decision to leave; but not really.”
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The frightening thing, of course, is that our first-past-the-post electoral system combines with the particular circumstances of the moment to give today’s Jacobins a good chance of governing. With the monarchy now revealed – more than ever before – as completely powerless, and with a host of fools and fanatics waiting to take over by hook or by crook, we face the all-too-real risk becoming a banana republic.
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On the topic of republics, is this not a make-or-break moment for the monarchy? If we do stay inside the EU, not only are we finished as an independent nation state, but our monarchy is finished too. It’s simple logic, isn’t it? After all, you can’t have a head of state in Brussels and another head of state in a UK which – if we remain – will in time be a province in a single European super-state. So sooner or later our monarchy will have to go, as will the United Kingdom itself. They aren’t shouting about it too loudly in the European Commission at the moment, but I don’t see that there’s any getting away from it. Why, I wonder, haven’t Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg & Co. cottoned on to this?
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With my mind occupied by thoughts such as these, it was good to go and stay the night in Gloucestershire. Fresh air; a long walk with dogs in countryside still unspoiled by wind-turbines; and – blessed relief – a complete break from the computer, the Internet and the poison of the TV news.
After just 24 hours I felt rejuvenated. But not for long. As my host and I approached one of the spaghetti junctions on the M40 outside London, the cars, solid in every lane for miles in all directions, reminded me that if Corbyn gains power and introduces free immigration for all, as he has promised to do, the overcrowding will get ever worse, and the long daily commute ever more intolerable for the millions who have no choice other than to put up with it.
Then on the way to the flat where I live, we looked in at the Westfield shopping centre, and in this vast temple to consumerism teeming with young women in headscarfs and with hardly a white face in sight, I wondered whether I belonged, any more, to the country of my birth. And for perhaps the first time I felt old and wondered whether I cared, any more, about this or anything else.