I woke up to the shocking news that Britain had voted to exit the EU and David Cameron is to step down.
I guess fear won. It appears from polls that young people wanted to remain but older people voted to leave. Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to stay.
As Fintan O’Toole stated in The Irish Times:
Other than the second World War it is hard to think of a great event in history that functions as a source of uncontested national pride for contemporary English people.
As for an elite in waiting, the English nationalist movement certainly has one. But the handover of elite power that will accompany this particular national revolution will surely be the most intimate in history: from one set of public-school and Oxbridge Tories to another.
And this elite’s vision of a future society seems to come down to the same lump of money – the (dishonestly) alleged £350 million a week that will be saved by leaving the EU – being spent over and over on everything from the National Health Service to farm subsidies. Plus, of course, fewer immigrants creating some kind of imaginary Lebensraum.
There is no attempt to articulate any set of social principles by which the new England might govern itself. As the English social critic Johnny Rotten put it once, “There is no future in England’s dreaming.”
The English are as entitled to their nationalism as anyone else. But nationalism, when it comes down to it, is about them and us. The Brexiters seem pretty clear about them: Brussels bureaucrats and immigrants. It’s just the us bit that they haven’t quite worked out yet. To be ready for self-government they might need to have given that a little more thought.