A leading Brexiteer MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has accused the EU of having a “colonialist approach” in insisting that the rights of its citizens in the UK be decided by courts in Europe rather than in Britain – recreating the privilege Britishers enjoyed during the Raj, when no Indian could sit in judgement on them.
Rees-Mogg is absolutely right. The European Union is clearly an imperial superpower that ruthlessly advances its own interests at the expense of weaker states. It is currently demanding a nicely round and crippling divorce bill of 100 billion euros, to be agreed before discussions on trade can even begin.
The price of a UK exit will be an impoverished Britain in which foreigners will effectively be a colonial elite while the British reduced to a native coolie-class that services them.
The Brexiteers have long argued that the EU is an imperial project, but recognising this fact should have given them the sense not to pick a fight with it. Now they are trapped in negotiations with an iron-willed economic bloc whose GDP is seven-times larger than their own and whose influence in the world is vastly greater.
It is no surprise that China, Japan and India have expressed no enthusiasm for dealing with an independent UK, and that the leaders of each have all visited Europe this year to deepen ties. Their long-term interests are with the EU, and they will not risk them by indulging any British fantasy of freedom. Britain is finding itself not only at odds with Europe, but frozen out of the world completely.
So desperate are Brexiteers to still believe that their hallucination of a thriving Brexitstan can be a reality, they are yapping excitedly about securing informal meetings with the US towards agreeing a deal – one that will be years away, if it happens at all.
They are delighted that Donald Trump tweeted a wish for a “big and exciting” deal that will mean “JOBS” – for Americans, that is – without thinking of what a Trump-brokered deal will look like. A cordial agreement between equals it won't be, especially for a UK that hasn't negotiated independently in the world for over 30 years. It will be taken to the cleaners.
“I can't think of a more brutal way for novice UK trade negotiators to learn the ropes than negotiating with the Americans,” said one professor of international trade on CNN. “God save them.”
The greatest advantage the EU confers on its members is the protection it gives them from the EU itself and other giant global predators – a safety the British now face throwing away. The first people in history to think that their sovereignty can be secured by becoming poorer, weaker and more isolated, they will, of course, become easy pickings for bigger powers.
With almost all of their key industries owned by foreigners – steel, car manufacture, airports, water and electricity – and incapable of projecting military power, the British desire for independence was always ridiculous. Having pimped themselves so gratuitously to all and sundry they have only themselves to blame if they have no muscle to flex in the world.
Like dogs chasing a car, the Brexiteers have pursued a mandate for independence only to now find themselves clueless as what to do now that they've caught it.
Brexit, however, never was a practical goal, but a religious aspiration, a myth of redemption for geriatric gymkhana-club alcoholics and a sullen lumpen Anglotariat that is now redundant to history. It was an idea not meant to be realised, but simply to provide comfort to a people trudging exhaustedly towards extinction.
As anxiety increases, the idea that Britain should forget the referendum result is already being touted and Nigel Farage, the spiritual father of Brexit, speaks of a “great betrayal” as he senses the will to persevere ebb from the elite. But will the Europeans forget about the 100 billion euros they can easily bank now that they have the British over a barrel?
While the Brexiteers had no plans for how to proceed after winning the referendum, the EU, like any responsible power, has scrupulously prepared for every contingency in order to maximise its interests. Whether Britain stays or goes, the EU will be the winner.
That Trump now also smells blood – the chance to penetrate and gut an unprotected market – should worry the British even more: co-prosperity doesn't seem to be his way of doing business.
Commentators here now openly speaking of Brexit, whether it happens or not, as a “national humiliation”. One columnist in The Times thinks it will equal the one suffered during the 1956 Suez Crisis, when the British were forced by the US to abort their invasion of Egypt.
Brexit, however, will be far worse. Suez marked the moment when the British ceased deciding the fates of other peoples; Brexit, or its failure, will mark the moment they ceased deciding their own.