A Stateside Take on the Age of Brexit
An Englishman in the USA gives a global view of the #Brexit impact on Scotland.
A guest article from Dave Hewitt
A Stateside Take on the Age of Brexit
2016 was politically dismal. As an anti-Brexit, anti-Trump Englishman living on the shores of Lake Erie, Ohio, I woke up to two personal nightmares that year – the Brexit result in June, and then the Trump victory in November. Both my home country and adopted country had stunned the world for what seemed to me, and millions of others, all the wrong reasons.
Since then, my American wife and I have been back to the UK five times. The next time we go will be the last ten days of March of this year. I’ll fly into Birmingham airport as an EU citizen. As things currently stand, ten days later and I’ll be flying out removed of that same citizenship. And that aggrieves me. The same kind of grievance, I can only imagine, that 62% of Scots felt on waking up the day after the referendum back in June 2016.
The classic maxim is “America sneezes and England catches a cold.” Put a Brexit spin on that and you get “England sneezes and Scotland gets double pneumonia and fluid on the lungs. More tube insertions sir?”
While most Americans have a vague awareness about Brexit, they have pretty much the same feelings about rugby and Earl Gray tea. They know them to be British things but, yeah, well, erm…did I tell you my great-great-great-granddaddy fought the British at the Battle of Chappapaxaquidibuick in 1777?
Still, the synergy between Brexit and MAGA was there to be very quickly seen after the Trump triumph of November 2016. Fag and a pint everyman proponent Nigel Farage was the first UK politician (if we can really call a one-trick pony that) to make homage across the pond to meet now President-elect Trump in the head-spinning days after his election.
Farage tweeted from New York that he was delighted to learn that Trump was smitten with the idea of the bust of Churchill being returned to the Oval Office (Obama had removed it) – priorities Nigel, priorities. Wonder if Churchill would be equally as smitten with UK GDP tanking up to 9% courtesy of a possible no-deal Brexit?
Not only was Scotland being taken to the Brexit cleaners by England in 2016, Trump was sniffing around the laundry too.
Prior to that, just after the referendum, speaking at his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, Trump declared that it was “a great thing” for the people of Scotland to be “taking their country back” per the EU referendum, despite a sizeable majority of Scots voting Remain. Of course math(s) has never been the Donald’s thing, as his numerous bankruptcies show.
The MAGA-massive aside, Scotland is of course firmly strapped into the post-Brexit roller-coaster ride with their English cousins. Only thing is, most Scots didn’t want the white-knuckle ride experience of Leave in the first place. They would have much rather been the sensible relatives watching from the sidelines, laughing and pointing at the Leave crazy-party hurtling nonsensically up and down the tracks, all the while eyeing up the much more serene tea-cup ride that Remain offered them but was ultimately denied to them.
“I bought tea-cup tickets! Why am I strapped into the nauseating rollercoaster ride instead???”
There is of course the terrible irony that the very fault-line that haunted the Conservative and Unionist party for the last 40 years, the UK’s relationship with Europe, will be the very thing that dooms the Union that is professes to hold so dear. Northern Irish backstops aside, the English dominated Leave result has lit the fuse of a simmering Scottish divorce from England more so than any 1980s Tory economic policy of deindustrialization and mass unemployment could have ever created.
Scotland is a progressive, left-leaning country. It shares political, social and cultural DNA with the EU, almost by default. England, in sorry contrast, still holds too many Tory impulses close to its heart. This is, of course, not to dismiss the millions in England who, overwhelmed with common sense, voted Remain. It’s just that too many in England sill eye mainland Europe with a High Tory like unhealthy suspicion, yet have a near-mystical, hard to properly define, trans-Atlantic yearning for the likes of Iowa, Texas and Ohio.
You know, the kinds of states that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.
How so England? Go figure Scotland.
About the author
A British guy, now on the shores of Lake Erie, Ohio, I have a Masters in International Studies and a Bachelors in Modern History and Politics. I’ve worked in civil litigation, trade union law and helping people train so as to get them back to work, both in the UK and now in the US.
Likes include writing (unsurprisingly), rugby, cricket, football, cats and curry.
Dislikes include prejudice, ignorance, identity politics and cleaning up after my teenage step-kids.
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