Brexit Britain, The Boris Touch

Brexit seems to be one of those long Broadway plays that the Brits like, with pointless intrigues, family feuds and an ending that could be predicted at the beginning. A confined theatre is a British temple, Brexit is now being played in the boundaries of Britain with the whole world as spectator and Europe in the demonic role.  A new twist has been introduced to what was becoming the Brexit writer’s block. It has been spiced up with an unexpected Eastern flavour, the Boris touch, with the ending become ever more exciting, dramatic and cliff hanger. Boris has brought a new dimension into British politics, so far missing.

The West and particularly the English, like to be seen to be playing fair by the rules. Rule of law is the official religion of the United Kingdom. Like all religions, it is a fairy tale idealism which works for most things with some degree of hypocrisy but gets stuck when real life gets tough. When the ‘rule of law’ is not working for the English or comes to a dead end, the English scuttle around to find a loophole in the small print, divide the opposition, and transfer the blame. Usually it moves on with a deviant combination of creative energising of the almost hidden small print, confounding the opposition and aided by the lack of a constitution which enables flexibility in interpretation of ‘convention’. The history of the Empire is full of this tactic.

Unfortunately for the English, the Europeans are also immersed in this skewed game of rule of law and are familiar with the British tactic. Hence attempts at dividing the EU, at making the Europeans the scapegoat for refusing to accept a ‘messy and fantasy solution’, and failing to treat the Brits on par with the gods, has all failed. Remember, ‘gods’ are usually above the everyday laws of mortals. Along comes Boris Johnson to save a play repeating scenes under Theresa May. The public attention was waning.

Boris has a Turkish ancestry, on the great grandfather, so a percentage of him brings an Eastern approach now to the Brexit game. The East generally sees rule of law as a utilitarian tool used by the politically powerful while they remain above it. It is no wonder ‘rule of law’ does not appear to work as ‘equitably’ in most countries east of Greece as it seems in the west. Perhaps the difference is that in the west there is craft, pretence and play when rule of law is bent, whereas in the East, power dispenses with the drama and gets to the desired outcome unashamedly.

The UK has now brought in the ‘curry’ option. With the Brexit stasis becoming deeply sclerotic as Parliament could not find any road, lane or even a rope to pull itself through the self-imposed barriers, in came Boris with his eastern temperament woken.

He first warned the Brits of the great Turkish migrant invasion for which only Brexit was a defence. In April 2016, Mr Johnson warned: “I am very pro-Turkish but what I certainly can’t imagine is a situation in which 77 million of my fellow Turks and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all. That is mad – that won’t work.” Now with his Turkish roots he is Prime Minister. Talk about ironic prophecy.

He has dismissed the sacrament of every convention and unwritten rule that has prevented the Crown to institute a proper Constitution and which defined the mystery of Britain. He found the greatest loophole. There is no written constitution so why not open the gaping hole that had so far been covered with customised verbal straw, that is convention. He has driven a bulldozer through propriety of office and government.

Extraordinarily, he is the leader of Britain that every politician and commentator who can say so does say so without embarrassment that he cannot be trusted! Imagine, a country being asked to live by rule of law, have integrity but its leader unashamedly is considered a pathological liar in office! Brexit has brought politics to this level. A new for the office of Her Majesty’s Prime Minister.

Boris prorogued Parliament (suspended now) for long period against convention until courts reversed it: and then against ‘traditional wisdom’ threw out the most staunch members of the Conservative Party who were considered its pillars if not foundation, including grandees and Churchill’s son; has says anything to anyone as they want to hear and then denies he said it; exploited the Queen in his machinations and even called Parliament to sit on an emergency war footing on a Saturday. The unwritten constitution has been exposed by him as the infamous Emperor’s non-existent clothes.

Like leaders in some eastern countries, Boris is pushing as far as is possible, breaking convention as far is possible and ignoring etiquette as far is possible until people go to the courts to stop him. If he carries on, sooner or later the courts will be in a knot.

Brexit has not been done yet but it has taken its toll. It is a war come home and grown into a multidimensional civil war. It is almost the Middle East without the violence. The different camps range from no Brexit, to a Brexit with no Deal to a Brexit with any Deal to a Brexit with a Deal with Customs Union with Europe (meaning obeying EU regulations) and a Brexit with labour laws aligned with Europe and so on.

The British parliament itself is a spectacle. No party can command complete loyalty, (except perhaps Scottish Nationalists). Parties dominating England and Wales all have conspirators galore now.

Britain, or at least England has changed and will change for ever after this. This is a tectonic phase in modern Britain. Calls for a proper written constitution are growing. Some are even predicting the end of the Monarchy on whom convention depended. Some are predicting a move away from the simple majority democracy that UK has and some are predicting a new phase in which smaller parties will reign, perhaps a proportional representation model of some European countries.

The end of United Kingdom is prophesised by many a pundit and politician now. Few think that the country can be united after three years of bitter differences. Scotland is gearing up for another referendum. Northern Ireland’s nationalists are muting a referendum to separate from Britain in near future. That leaves Wales and England.

It is also interesting that this country which ran a racist Empire once, now has its four most important positions in Government run by children of migrant families. The PM has Turkish roots, born in New York. The Foreign Minister is son of a Czechoslovakian Jewish father, The Home Minister is daughter of East African Gujratis and the Chancellor is a son of Pakistani immigrants. It shows how far Britain has come in being a real multicultural and multiracial country. With Brexit, a new Britain is rising as Imperial Britain is dying.

As for Brexit, Boris Johnson is likely to favour a Brexit Deal where Northern Ireland is ditched. The majority of English see Norther Ireland as a burden. He may even stitch up with Scottish nationalists and offer them a referendum. He is likely to get support from some Labour MPs so he can ignore the Northern Irish Unionists (those who want to remain within UK, DUP) who have been a major obstacle to any agreement on Brexit.

After all this real life and often humorous grand Brexit theatre which has made Comic halls irrelevant in London at the moment, and which has made West End plays appear as Children’s entertainment, the end game may still be another referendum and back into EU after a short Brexit. But Brexit Britain will have undergone fundamental change in these three years of internal trauma. It is already being seen very differently by the rest of the world but will be even more after the Boris touch at the heart of an Imperial power that made ceremony, pomp, convention and tradition the sacred unwritten constitution of Great Britain. All that is being blown away by Boris the Turk.

Brexit Deal: Has The European Union been duped?

the deal that the British establishment wanted anyway. The Brexit negotiations were high political war, entrapping the opposition to believe that ‘it has a winning plan’. Of course the EU had a plan, but the plan has been shepherded into a narrow pass where Britain can triumphantly walk away with the prize and fatally wound the adversary. What successive British Governments and the majority of voters wanted was an end to free for all immigration from Europe. The rest was irrelevant to the masses who flocked to the ballot box and ticked for ‘exit’ in 2016. Slogans such as sovereignty, free to trade with the rest of the world without EU rules, make our own laws etc etc do not impact on the ordinary Brit. The average person struggling to make ends meet is hardly going to become prosperous because British Business can ‘freely’ trade with China, India or Africa. His/Her lot remains the same. The British system like many capitalist systems, works in favour of the rich. The middle classes and the poor suffer whether they are in EU or outside. It is the businesses who compete outside Europe who want an economy without EU rules on worker rights, basic protections, protected hours etc. Essentially they want to create a China, India or Bangladesh in UK as a sweatshop economy that goes further than zero hour contracts. There are enough working class Brits and migrants who could be forced to live in even further poverty. The UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty has already given a damning report on poverty in the UK. Instead of concentrating on solutions, the Government has hit back taking the Trumpian approach ‘Fake News’. No doubt Prof Philip Alston started by saying the Government is in denial. Immigration is not the agenda of the Business class. In fact for many businesses, illegal migrants and even European labour was working out cheaper than hiring British workforce, whether in the farms, factories or even in the white collar sector such as computing etc. But this was becoming unsustainable against an angry British voter. The way out for businesses reliant on cheap labour was to force down wages within UK and do away with EU regulations on labour The British working classes like the poor in many countries become their own worst enemies by falling prey to propaganda. EU migration was easily controllable and manageable. Britain however chose not to do so. Two former Labour Home Secretaries have written on how this could have been done. On the other hand over the years, successive British Governments, most businesses who trade with EU and the general population have sought to have tariff free access to EU but without European oversight on labour standards. Of the four pillars of EU solidarity, the British public didn’t like free flow of labour, or rather EU citizens while the establishment didn’t like European working hour directives etc. In some ways that is exactly what has been achieved in this withdrawal agreement. United Kingdom will be able to close its borders to uncontrolled migration from Europe after the transition period. The populace will be happy, acquiring further misery unwittingly. Britain will have access to EU markets during the withdrawal agreement. Its hope is that during this period, Europe will see the benefit of friction free trade with United Kingdom or reach comfortable levels of tariffs that will ensure trade between the two. A healthy trade between UK and Europe benefits both. Low tariffs and some degree of seamless flow of trade will benefit both. No doubt the technicalities of enabling this will be found. Eventually when this settles, United Kingdom will have the freedom to strike deals with the rest of the world without EU constraints on standards. No doubt UK will be discreetly engaging in reaching trade deals as officially it won’t be permitted to do so while still in the transition period. With this clever move, UK will have succeeded in breaking two of the four pillars of European integrity, the free movement of people, and jurisdiction of European Court. That United Kingdom has to accept EU rules for this duration is neither here or there. That European Court will have final say in some cases, is also not really a sacrifice except for those emotionally hung up about ‘sovereignty’.  Most of the principles of EU laws have been written by British academics and lawyers anyway. After the transition period, EU remit will only apply to trade with EU. The two areas that the deal got stuck at is Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Northern Ireland is politically sensitive. The Northern Irish loyalists, the Protestant community, want to stay within United Kingdom. A fact no one likes to say in public is that the English are not that keen on Northern Ireland. If they had their way, Northern Ireland would long have been freed from mainland Britain. The Northern Irish loyalists know this well. They know that if the circumstances are right, United Kingdom will shed Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has been a drain on UK resources for a long time. The current deal paves the way for that time to come. With special arrangements for Northern Ireland  to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, there will inevitably and de-facto be two separate regions in UK with different trade deals  and access to Europe. Effectively there will be two different jurisdictional arrangements, hence two different countries. Once that happens the political climate for a referendum to separate from UK will become ripe in Northern Ireland. The DUP, the party of protestant loyalists know that well. They also know that a significant number of protestant Northern Irish will vote to join the Republic of Ireland and separate from United Kingdom. The old animosities are fading away in the population. But for the hardliners, centuries of struggle by loyalists will be lost. England will be smugly satisfied. Europe will have done for it what it could not do by itself. This is also why Jeremy Corbyn is against another referendum in UK on EU membership. His links with and sympathies for Sinn Fein and its cause for northern Ireland to break from UK go back several decades if not most of his political life. A second EU referendum will deliver a vote in favour of staying within Europe thus frustrating the ambition of the Northern Irish republicans. After a bit of an opposition and with some further concessions by May, Labour Party under Corbyn is  most likely to vote for the current deal. His claims of being able to achieve a deal which keeps UK in a permanent free trade with Europe are humbug only to keep the large contingent of remainers in his party hoping. Gibraltar is another issue. The UK and Spain will come to some mutually agreeable arrangements. Again that is for another day. [caption id="attachment_33840" align="alignnone" width="300"] Michel Barnier, the Chief EU negotiator[/caption] Europe on the other hand has been a spectator to theatricals and drama in UK. The Brexiteers are genuine. Their campaign is genuine. Letting them jump up and down worked in favour of May. She could dupe the Europeans into thinking that what she was conceding was capitulation in the eyes of many of her country people. Having exasperated the Europeans for two years with the Brexit bulldogs been given an open season, Britain has managed to make Europeans think that PM May agreeing to some European Court oversight and accepting European rules during withdrawal is a risky sacrifice that she is making against the mightl of the powerful Brexit lobby.  The Northern Ireland dilemma does not bother the English but it is being played as an enormous and unsolvable problem. What Europe is losing is far more serious. Its determined stand to keep the four pillars to sustain its integrity is being slowly eroded. By blocking free movement and eventually getting a reasonable deal for trade, Britain will have set an example to other EU countries with nationalist movements pitched against European integration. In the Brexit deal are the seeds of European project coming apart.  Theresa May is a brilliant strategist. As usual, the British civil service has risen to the challenge with ingenuity, intrigue and cunning. As more and more British MPs realise the intrigue in the deal, the challenge to May is receding. Michel Barnier, the Chief EU negotiator and jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission President will have delivered a deal that the British wanted in the first place, outwitted by Oliver Robins, the civil servant masterminding the negotiations and Sir Tim Barrows, the UK’s representative to EU. As usual it will be a bit late when they realise the trap they walked into.]]>

Migration matters: Goans unique in Indian diaspora

By Deepak Pant Visit Hounslow, Southall, Heathrow or Swindon near London and chances are that you will be served in a restaurant or at a shop counter by a Konkani-speaking person recently arrived from Goa. London and the United Kingdom have been one of the favourite destinations of emigrating Indians; Goans are the latest layer in the history of Southall and Hounslow that have hosted large numbers of people from Punjab and elsewhere from the Indian sub-continent over the decades. The Goan presence is increasingly visible in parts of London, not least in churches, where dwindling attendance has been boosted, with some churches in Southall and Hounslow holding prayers in Konkani, at times led by visiting priests from Goa. The annual Goa Festival in Hounslow reflects their growing presence: from hundreds participating some years ago, it now attracts tens of thousands of people enjoying a day of Goan food, music, prayers and conviviality – or ‘Goenkarponn’ (Goan-ness) – for which the sylvan state is known. People from Goa have been migrating for centuries, excelling in professions in various countries, but the more recent migration to the UK is unique. If the history of colonialism and post-colonialism has much to do with the migration of Indians to the UK, the more recent arrival of Goans in the UK reflects the rare phenomenon of the ‘double post-colonial’: Portugal was the first western country to colonise parts of India — Goa from 1510 — and the last to leave in 1961. India gained independence from the British in 1947, but Goa remained under Portuguese rule until December 19, 1961, when it was ‘liberated’ by India under Operation Vijay. Portuguese nationality law allows those born in Goa before December 19, 1961, and two generations, to acquire Portuguese citizenship. Thousands of Goans have used the provision in recent decades. Portuguese citizenship makes them citizens of the European Union, which allows them to move, work and settle in any of the 28 countries in the group, and also access state’s financial and other benefits. Many new Goan-Portuguese citizens do not have links with Portugal, do not know the language, never visited the country of their passport, but travel to the more familiar London and United Kingdom. Swindon got its first Goan-origin councillor during the May elections (Imtiaz Shaikh from Vasco). There have also been earlier Goa-origin migrants to the UK, via east Africa, reflected in three MPs in the House of Commons: Keith Vaz, Valerie Vaz and Suella Fernandes. The recent migration from Goa has raised hackles in the perennially tense discourse of immigration in the UK, which was a major reason for the Brexit vote in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Campaign group Migration Watch UK wants the government to stop the ‘loophole’ of Indians (Goans) acquiring Portuguese passports and moving to the UK. The continuing uncertainty over Brexit poses now questions about the future of the Goan-Portuguese who are already in the UK and those considering to move in future, but the fact remains that several localities and villages in Goa have emptied out. Families and neighbours have taken the Portuguese passport-route to the UK, mainly for economic reasons, but ostensibly due to lack of jobs in Goa and the prospect of a better life. In turn, there is concern in Goa over large numbers of non-Goans taking up jobs that the locals cannot or will not do in the state (even if those who have migrated do similar jobs in the UK). The story of ‘autochthones and the other’ is a familiar one. The script has played out in various parts of India and elsewhere (including in the UK), where population groups considered indigenous cannot or will not do jobs in various sectors, and tensions arise when the gap is filled by the foreigner or the ‘other’. Due to Brexit, lesser number of EU applicants for jobs in the UK has already created a situation for various sectors, including health. In India, the skills crisis in Goa and the tensions it has thrown up may be the latest, but few can forget Assam, which saw prolonged agitation and the killing of thousands of people in the 1980s. Tensions along the ‘insider-outsider’ or ‘citizen-foreigner’ dimension continue to boil over in the north-eastern state: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Most migration has roots in global, national and regional economic imbalances. Unless these are addressed beyond platitudes, grants and international agreements, the images of thousands of people trying to cross dangerous seas or trekking through forests and hazardous routes for days and months to Europe and other developed parts of the world will continue to make news. In Goa’s case, unless the Manohar Parrikar government delivers on its election promises, the sense of frustration, ennui and despondency among many over corruption and lack of jobs will continue to drive them to take the Portuguese passport-route, eventually reaching the UK.]]>

Britain at crossroads, says Corbyn about Brexit

Britain will have to consider its global role after deciding to leave the European Union, but it wants close ties with Europe, the main UK parliamentary opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said in Geneva on Friday. “Britain is at a crossroads,” he said at the UN in Geneva. “The decision by British people to leave the EU in last year’s referendum means there has to be a lot of hard thinking about our role in the world,” Xinhua reported. Corbyn, who leads the Labor Party, spoke to journalists at the United Nations in Geneva after making a speech on human rights and international cooperation and on a day the EU said it and Britain had moved closer in agreeing terms of their divorce. He said some people want to use Brexit, its decision to leave the EU, “to turn Britain in on itself rejecting the outside world and turn everyone into a feared competitor”. “Others want to use Brexit to put rocket boosters under our current economic system’s insecurities and inequalities. Turning Britain into a deregulated corporate tax haven, low wages, with limited rights, cut-price public services, in a wholly destructive race to the bottom.” But Corbyn said his party wants “to see a close and cooperative relationship with our European neighbours, outside the European Union, based on solidarity as well as mutual benefit and fair trade, along with a wider proactive internationalism across the globe”. He said he will fight for non-tariff trade with the EU, but he did not answer a question on whether Britain would have another referendum if that cannot be achieved. In his speech Corbyn warned that the “dominant global economic system is broken” and that it has produced a world where “a wealthy few control 90 per cent of global resources, of growing insecurity and grotesque levels of inequality within and between nations”. Corbyn attacked the governing Conservative Party of Prime Minister Theresa May saying, “Our government has played a central role in enabling the corruption that undermines democracy, and violates human rights.” “In Africa alone $35 billion is lost each year to tax dodging and 50 billion dollars to illicit financial flows, vastly exceeding the $30 billion that enters the continent of Africa as aid,” said the British opposition leader. He spoke of two exposes on tax evasion known as the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers, he said these showed that the powerful and super-rich in the “cannot regulate themselves. Corbyn added that the United Nations has a “pivotal role to play to advance a new consensus, and common ground based on solidarity, respect for human rights, international regulation and cooperation”.

(IANS) // ]]>

BRITAIN’S SLIDE, INDIA’S OPPORTUNITY

C’est de la folie” — “It is madness”. The Russians who massacred the British thought they were drunk. Europeans view Brexit as a modern version of that madness, complete with rivalries, jealousies in the camp, over confidence, a decision made without looking at the consequences  and now an inability to turn back in the face of imminent collapse. The decision, as the Government is fond of saying, has been made. The right excuse for the get out clause hasn’t quite materialised. Russian interference in the referendum may yet form one of the reasons if the pragmatist finally take over from the current shipwreck. British politicians and commentators have been fond of saying that Britain punches beyond its weight. A subliminal realisation has existed that Britain is no longer the military power, the economic force or the innovative leader that it once was. But that realisation has not understood what kept the balloon inflated. A sense exists among many Brexitors that Britain can rise from the ashes. Not having lost any major wars, there hasn’t been a period of reckoning that could have precipitated introspection. Hence old habits and institutions have been fossilised as the indomitable character of Englishness. Divide and rule, a tendency to take unnecessary risks sometimes out of sheer boredom with a status quo, and double speak have been hallmarks of the colonial age that have not quite left the establishment’s approach to the modern world. The world is much too aware of those habits and many an ex colonised country knows how they lost their lands to deceptions and exploitations by the Imperial British. They are too cautious now. Old habits die hard. Europe is weary and even mocks the failed divide and rule approach taken by the three British Brexiteers to create disunity within the European camp . ‘We know you too well’ Europeans say.  Neither is the misplaced confidence that the ‘world and Euope needs us more than we need them’ is proving true. Britain is about to lose two important agencies, the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.. Its place as the premier finance centre of the world is at risk as Europe and Euro starts to consolidate its place in the financial sphere. The loss of the European Medicines Agency is adding to the brain drain that has started since Brexit. Britain no longer appeals to the brightest and the best in the world. Before Brexit, there was confidence that British excellence and the expertise as the Financial centre will ensure that Europe will want to keep these agencies in UK! Hasn’t happened. Prime Minister Theresa May, unfairly nicknamed the Maybot, is steering a creaky ship in very difficult waters with rebellious crews at logger heads with each other. Her demeanour and character is now reflective of Britain as a country, uncertain of itself, fast finding that the ‘great’ in Great Britain is not working anymore and the country is shedding the props that enabled it to ‘punch beyond its weight’. There is now tremendous insecurity and self doubt . Some are wondering whether it is an intelligent and sound nation or as the LibDem leader Vince Cable says, ‘living in Alice in Wonderland.’ Why has it come to this? The British were famously thought to be safe, guarded, sensible and reliable. There doesn’t seem to be much of that on display now. The country’s establishment has failed to change its approach to a world long accustomed to its (Britain’s) old ways and a world much changed by a post industrial fast moving internet based economies and egalitarian social changes. A class system suited to imperial colonialism, a Monarchy serving as an antiquarian tourist attraction and a political system out of sync with modern complexity do not inspire the need to go through ‘revolution’ of a kind. There is still too much gloating and living in past glories. That may be its nemesis as it clings to habits and character that also lost it the Empire within a very short period. Compared to the Roman and even Mughal Empire, the British Empire was the shortest in time span. Beneath the veneer of decency and reason, there is a long history of gory bloodshed, unnecessary wars and eccentric decisions that make no sense. There is an inability to coexist and get along as equals. Instead, its class system is so entrenched that there is still no concept of a nation of equals. Rather this divisiveness influences its approach to the rest of the world. Not having had a real crises calling for introspection, Brexit seems to be a self inflicted moment long awaited. For too long It has been carried and cushioned by camping with Europe as EU, with its ex colonised countries as Commonwealth, and as special relationship with its racial allies, the Anglosaxon world, namely USA, Canada and Australia. It has lived off its seat at the Security Council’ Reality check is dawning every day.. America is not interested in UK as it once was. The special relationship now is a paper myth played up to keep the British upper classes happy. All this is opening an opportunity for the biggest and now most influential of its ex colonised land, India. India’s growing influence in the world has been tested in the appointment of the fifth Judge at the International Court of Justice, an institution, like many that Britain was instrumental in setting up. The very eminent and knighted Sir Christopher Greenwood, has lost out to the ordinary Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari. Knighthoods no longer impress the world. While having a majority in the Security Council, Britain could only muster 68 supporters against India’s 121 in the General Assembly. Even the special partner, America ditched it and Europe no longer felt obliged to stand by it. The rest of the world, which Brexiteer had placed great hopes in, was scarce in support. While that comic Foreign Secretary tried to find a ‘sour grapes spin to it, the loss of this prestigious seat is a sign of times to come. The Commonwealth is going to be Britain’s next testing ground as a boisterous India throws its weight around the world. UK already looks as the junior partner in the Commonwealth. Sooner or later, the issue of who should be head of the club will rise again. India has raised concerns in the past about the Queen being perpetual unelected head of Commonwealth which promotes democracy! What may be a poignant moment in the very near future could be if Britain loses its Security Council seat. With India leading the charge in the General Assembly for changes, there will no doubt be dramatic changes precipitated at the UN within the next decade if not sooner. Power is reversing between the once colonised and the Imperialist. It is India that is rising and Britain that is sliding downwards. There is still hope. Britain still has some of the most intelligent and intellectual minds in the world despite the brain drain.  If it finds a way back into Europe, it may give itself time to readjust to reality. That of course depends if the next few months bring it closer to self reflection. But if it continues to whistle in the wind along with its Foreign Secretary living in the glorious past, the shrinking of its power may come too soon. For India, Britain’s demise augers well, as it takes on the real leadership of Commonwealth and increases its punch at the UN. // ]]>

BREXIT REAL, THE ENGLISH UNLEASHED


After years of bashing Brussels, the uneasy relationship between the English and the Europeans is finally moving towards a divorce. Brexit has been triggered with all the expectations of a spaceship being sent to nowhere in the unknown galaxy. It has been a difficult marriage, between an English culture of adversarial bickering and a European culture of consensus politics, between a people (English) still clinging to antiquity and mass (Europe) moving on with change. The English like challenges and a state of perpetual conflict. Westminster Parliament is a show case of that. The challenge has multiplied with Scotland threatening to break the Union. Many a country may see this as calamity approaching but for the English it is ‘showtime’. Europe has never quite understood why the English hate them, constantly off loaded their own problems on Europe and yet continued to be one of the leading contributors to policy and overall European economy. Many English retire to Europe. Few if any Europeans seek retirement homes in England. Yet the English moan. England has been an uncomfortable partner in the EU project. Europeans came together to work towards common goals. The English on the other hand are a difficult partner, with its press constantly throwing rotten tomatoes at Europe. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Most of Europe has democratic systems that work towards some form of political consensus, proportional representations or a form that is not hampered by constant bickering for the sake of bickering. From their long period of civil wars, the English have evolved an adversarial system, a gentleman’s version of the civil war, brought into the cockpit without weapons or fisticups. With rules as civil as those of sumo wrestlers, MPs address each other with respect then hurl abuse.
The distance between the Government and Opposition front benches at Westminster is an arm and a sword. This symbolically explains the constant Punch and Judy show that the world is entertained with every Wednesday. A hangover from the civil war. An itch to beat the other person but rules forbid. Even Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, who wanted to bring ‘seriousness’ to politics, soon found out that this domestic arena of war is as much part of the tradition as the Queen is. The public requires him to play the part or he is constantly headlined as a ‘loser’, wiped out by the sharper May. Shouting put downs and point scoring, a bit like India-Pakistan Wagah border with sound effects.
Europeans were dumbfounded when the star Brexiter, Farrage, laid into them with insults echoing the Westminster Chamber. They tried to respond but couldn’t match his sharp tongue. They had no training.
 

British Premier Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain on March 29, 2017.
England is an anomaly in the European political culture. Nothing passed by UK Government goes through without the opposition throwing mustard at it on BBC 4 Today programme disguised as scrutiny. That is the English way. Government has to be opposed, otherwise the word ‘opposition’ becomes meaningless. Similarly anything and everything that Europe passes is to be attacked, for the sake of it. Europe does not engage in this drama of perpetual verbal wrestling. There is no EU equivalent of the posh school ground fracas on display in Westminster. Europe lost in the muddy English media.
 
Faceless bureaucrats and unelected dictators have been constant accusations levelled against EU and EU legislation. The problem isn’t that laws and rules are passed by Chief Secretaries in Europe. Indeed there are greater obstacles to passing anything in Europe than in UK. They have to be agreed unanimously by all partners in most cases. What Europe didn’t provide the English was the theatre of politics, the war of words, the verbal fisticups, the symbolism of opposition. It didn’t feed the mob. That in UK, the three line whip in Parliament and some of the Ministerial directives make China look democratic is besides the point. It is the theatre that is missing which Farrage et all made so much mileage of.
In time, the constant opposing of Europe and Europe’s failure to rise to the bait, has left a deep impression of Europe being a mega State run by a despotic regime of experts.
No wonder England does not want to be part of the European project. The civil war is missing. There is no fun in consensus.
There are other underlying currents, ones that may be at the heart of the Scottish referendum. The English continue to cling to glorious Empire, the past, a Monarchy and rituals that Americans call  quaint. It draws the tourists. There is a feeling of still wanting to live in an antique shop of memories, of wars won, of lands conquered and lost, of engineering feats but with mod cons such as electricity, broadband etc bolted on. Cluttered in towns most English Middle classes dream of stone cottages in villages rather than a Bill Gates type mod con house. Of course there is progress and the English or rather British are great at inventions, modern art, fashion etc but they have to be grafted onto the rubble of history still preserved and forcefed to life. And why not?
But there can be too much of it. Europe too has history, but it does not go back and forth and back into Goth and Empire land. It maintains its history but has moved on a lot in its political institutions, legal frameworks and social culture.
Hence the Scottish referendum. The Scots do not really have a history of their own of recent centuries to write much about. They have been at the coattails of the English. They are not stuck with the past except their long lost independence. But most Scots have become too institutionally dependent on the English to have the courage of self sufficiency. It is one of the strangest independence struggles, almost like a corporate divisions, argued from an economic angle, profit and loss benefits, than the fire of freedom.
Unlike the English, who didn’t care whether they will sink economically or become great again in Brexit, the Scots are calculating Pounds and Pences. That sort of independence does not deserve freedom and is unlikely to happen. Imagine the colonial Empire; Would India have sought freedom counting Rupees? The cost of freedom is uncertainty the Scots are not up to it. The English are.
But the referendum will be another battle to fight. If by some miracle the Scots finally decide they really want freedom as opposed to a comfortable security service, the battle to keep Scotland in UK will be the final gasps of an English  Empire that once spawned the globe. Where the sun never set once, it is now in danger of being blocked by a single cumulonimbus cloud.
In the Empire is some insight of the English character and the decision to leave Europe. They are a restless people who like adventures and winning.  The British Empire was the biggest Empire in history but also the shortest of its kind. The Roman Empire went on for 1400 years. Even the Mughals in India were in power for nearly 700. The British Empire rose and fell within a mere 200 years.
The English don’t integrate. Others are expected to integrate into them. They don’t coexist well. Hence the immigration issue looms so high. That there wont be enough young migrants to look after an ageing population or run the Health service doesn’t bother them. They will sort it out when it becomes a problem.
The English like their remit to run and cannot live with consensus. They reach a point of zenith and start self destructing, bored with victory and seeking more if others don’t accept their lordship. Hence the Empire only lasted 200 years with colossal rash misjudgements that led to its rapid demise.
Even now, had UK not had a veto in the UN, England may have voted to come out of UN as well, it could be possible. The Commonwealth survives  because the Queen is its perpetual head and all other members still live in awe of once having been colonised by a small Island nation. Europe has no top table and no victors, it was getting tedious to be nice all the time without effective power.
29th March 2017 is historical. England as UK sent a formal letter to Europe to leave a partnership and Scotland sent a decision to England that it wants to leave UK. Sinn Fein is bidding its time for Northern Ireland to follow leaving the UK too.
Doom ahead? Not for Enggland. Out of adventure comes greatness The courage of the English is legendry. They have a history of walking into the unknown and coming out winners. Self confidence that will carry England forth with or without Scotland. The English unleashed may change the world yet again.
Jasdev Rai