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Send in the clowns

June 24, 2016

I woke up this morning proud (as I would be most mornings if I gave any thought to it) of being a Londoner. I was also rather ashamed of being English. Yes, English, not British, because one of the many things yesterday’s EU referendum shone a nasty light on was the myth of a United Kingdom.

Londoners voted overwhelmingly, as I was confident they would, to remain in the European Union. Not because people in London think any more highly of the largely unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy than anyone else in Britain, but because they believed, whatever the faults of the EU may be (and there are quite a few) that Britain is better off in than out. And because Londoners, whilst they may think of themselves first and foremost as Brits, also see themselves as European.

The Scots, too, see themselves as part of Europe. (And let’s be honest, if some other jurisdiction is going to dictate to them, they’d rather it was Brussels than London.)

Wales and Northern Ireland I confess surprised me. Why the Welsh thought they’d be better off outside Europe is beyond me. And if I’d given it any thought, I might have assumed the still largely Protestant population of Northern Ireland would have felt more closely aligned to Westminster than Brussels. Perhaps at the end of the day the population felt first Irish, and then European.

It’s a sad, sad day. Whatever argument middle England small business owners might have put forward about being strangled by Brussels red tape, make no mistake. The Leave campaign won the day because xenophobia is alive and well in the heart of England. A nasty nostalgia for the days when Britannia ruled the waves still bubbles barely beneath the surface. It is ugly to behold.

Last Sunday I laughed when John Oliver used his show to explain the underlying rationale for the referendum: the ingrained need of the English to tell Europe to fuck off. I loved the alternative EU anthem he created and aired with the invitation to Brits to sing along a few times to get it out of their system before regaining their sanity.


Of course, the lyrics he should have written were these:

Fuck you, European migrants,

England belongs to the English

You can just go fuck yourselves.

Everyone knew it would be close, but I genuinely believed that when it came down to 50%+1, the plus one would be on the Remain side. I was wrong.

London (and Liverpool and Manchester and Bristol and Cardiff and – by a whisker – Newcastle) got screwed last night. The people of these cities, all of which voted to Remain, will be the hardest hit when the John Bullshit hits the fan. And they’re stuck with it. (I am lucky. I am thousands of miles away from London and the consequences of this narrow-minded vote. I expect I will soon be taking bookings for my spare room.)

Scotland can and in all probability will vote to leave the Disunited Kingdom. I have no idea if the residents of Northern Ireland can legally vote to be unified with the south, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried.

Still convinced yesterday morning that sanity would prevail, I posted this on Facebook:

“Dear fellow Brits: However you feel about the EU, you know in your heart of hearts that Bojo the Clown, Nigel Fartface and Little Piggy Gove are evil fuckers with whom you should disagree about anything and everything.


“Is this who you want running the country next year? No, I thought not. So get to the polling station and let them know you want them to Leave the stage.”

How ironic. How heartbreaking. And how infuriating.

Fuck you, middle England.

From → Columns

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