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Brexit will work: Britons are best when selfish as a nation

Abhijit Majumder
Abhijit MajumderJun 24, 2016 | 13:56

Brexit will work: Britons are best when selfish as a nation

Great Britain is a little island again. And for good reason.

On June 23, the UK voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent in favour of exiting the European Union (EU), propelled largely by a feeling of being a cork on a river, tossed away by global currents instead of being fully in control of one's own destiny.

Britain's frustration has been piling up. A 28-member commission in Brussels, for instance, influences almost 60 per cent of laws in the country. And, none of them elected by the people.

There has been resentment over the inability to negotiate and strike international trade deals independently, the UK's apparently outsized contribution to a weaker EU economy, freedom of movement rules putting intense pressure on public utilities like health, education, transport and housing.

There have also been complaints of bureaucratic red tape, single-market compulsions and inability of member nations to scrap value-added tax without the EU's permission to ease load on their own citizens.

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UK PM David Cameron has resigned after Brexit. (AP)

As Spectator noted recently, calling the EU a "protectionist scam" and urging Britain to leave: "A bloated bureaucracy that has outgrown all usefulness. A Parliament that represents many nations, but with no democratic legitimacy."

But the most compelling reasons - ones which make liberals across the world squirm - are fears of cultural invasion, increased crime, illegal immigration, and the very real threat of hosting sanctuaries and testing grounds of Islamist terror.

The possibility of Turkey's inclusion in the EU multiplies some of these threats.

Reports suggest the UK already has more than 3,000 home-grown jihadis, and that number is growing fast. An estimated six inland attacks and nine overseas plots were foiled by British police and intelligence.

MI5 boss Andrew Parker is on record saying Britain is currently battling the highest number of terror plots in more than 30 years.

Memories of the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal and the mass sex attacks in Cologne are fresh.

Besides, none can rob a people the right to defend their culture and ethos from being hijacked.

Just as the West forcing the idea of democracy on the Middle East is appalling, forcing a deeply problematic Euro-multiculturalism on the UK or France is counterproductive.

Those Bremain hardliners who claim to be liberal but are in denial of the rise of one of the darkest, bloodiest, and most illiberal ideologies in history - deaf to the UK's concern about Islamism and the right to shut it out - are part of the problem.

The immediate tremors of Britain's exit from the EU - berserk markets and currencies - will be felt across the world.

Predictions are flying thick that Britain will emerge from this emaciated.

The rise of the British empire was out of crippling adversity, not glorious advantage.

British were the weakest on sea compared with maritime empires of the Spanish, Dutch, French and Portuguese.

Its rise owes more to Britons being canny pirates than intrepid explorers, smart late-movers than glorious pioneers.

The empire started taking shape out of empire-envy towards the Spanish, almost a century after the Armada.

"Why were the British such good pirates? They had to overcome some real disadvantages," writes conservative historian Niall Ferguson (who, one must admit, argued against Brexit) in Empire.

Their pattern of Atlantic winds and currents gave Portuguese and Spanish vessels a natural edge. In naval technology too, the British were laggards, he writes.

But Britain turned these disadvantages around by overhauling ship design, adopting Euclidean geometry, making cheaper homemade iron cannons which meant more bangs per buck, improving health of crews and beginning to use better maps.

Waterloo is not the only time the British have turned seemingly insurmountable odds into opportunity.

They are possibly the best when being selfishly practical, even petty, about their national interest. And that is why being an island again is likely to work.

Last updated: June 27, 2016 | 11:44
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