Over the last few days, following the Brexit result, I’ve suffered something of an inner turmoil.
I have tried to be objective. I have tried to blithely accept the wishes of the 52% of those who voted. I have tried to accept that, despite the patent lunacy of such a large number of people making such a catastrophic mistake, we must all come together (much like Evelyn Waugh’s ‘motto of a knocking shop in Marrakesh’), but I’m sorry, as hard as I try, I cannot bring myself to do that, I simply cannot.
You see, this is not like seeing a Jeremy Corbyn style rebel win a general election, because in 5 years’ time we can undo the short-term harm of that. This is dreadful, and this is permanent.
But, and as a lover of modern history, there is another reason that goes beyond the immediate aftermath of such an act of foolishness; a nagging doubt of a nightmare scenario far worse than financial meltdown, isolationism, and insularity. It is a nagging doubt of what we might become, if we are not very very careful.
The nightmare scenario goes something like this. . .
So we have a charismatic and desperately ambitious individual, born in another country, shunned by the political establishment, and yet swept into power on the basis of lies, unrealistic promises, and the resentment of an existing and unfair agreement.
For those who have no love or time for history, this was a person who appealed to the lowest common denominator of criminal ignorance; people who had no real idea of what they were supporting or of what they were allowing to happen; a dissatisfied cross-section of resentful individuals looking for someone to blame for their unhappy lot in life, and knowing only that they were ‘pissed off’ with both ‘Johnny Foreigner’ and an existing treaty they considered to be oppressive and unfair.
I am, of course, referring to Nazi Germany and Versailles, and if you don’t see the correlation, because Boris Johnson is a fundamentally decent man, allow me to explain further.
I think that if anyone from this whole sorry sordid mess could turn back the clock then that man would be Boris Johnson, but it is too late. He has crossed the Rubicon and alea iacta est; the die is now irreversibly cast.
The saddest thing of all, as far as Boris and his place in history is concerned, is that he sees himself as a reincarnation of Winston Churchill, but to date he has shown more of the less edifying traits of Churchill’s lunatic adversary than those of the great statesman who was Churchill.
And let us not forget that other charismatic and equally dangerous individual, Nigel Farage (the grandson of a German private who was wounded in World War One, would you believe) waiting in the wings for a general election that will further polarise the country, boost the UKIP lunatic fringe, and possibly force a weakened Prime Minister Johnson to turn to those same UKIP fascists to prop up a wounded government.
“Yes,” I hear you scoff, “but we don’t have the same economic circumstance as 1930’s Germany.
You are, of course, absolutely right. . . but then again. . .
The Brexit vote will undoubtedly bring this country to its economic knees; just as the Wall Street Crash of 1929 brought Germany to its economic knees.
What was that you said. . ? “You don’t believe that will happen, and even if it did; we don’t have Brown Shirts and Black shirts in the United Kingdom.”
Perhaps not, but have you seen the sudden rise in xenophobia and overt racism on our streets and on social media. Today we have sections of the media and social media that are every bit as bullying and divisive. . . . and if you don’t believe me try reading the Daily Express, or perhaps you could try the Daily Mail’s comments sections on any of its shamelessly anti-Europe articles. . . I can tell you, Joseph Goebbels would have proud of these thugs.
“More ridiculous scaremongering,” I hear you saying, “next you’ll be saying that Michael Gove looks like Heinrich Himmler. What you paint is a picture of pure fantasy; it couldn’t possibly happen here.”
You don’t think so? Well, I hope you’re right, but I’m sure those same criminally ignorant people of 1933 Germany also permitted themselves that same sadly delusional comfort. . . and, now you come to mention it, you do have a point about Michael Gove.
Have a good one.