Brexit wasn't about the economy but about identity

Every now and then, I see or hear some opinion about how bad the country's decision to leave the EU (the EU exit, or more fashionably, Brexit), was.

The pandemic has limited cross-borders travel and overshadowed any economic fallout caused by Brexit, although leaving the EU was a shakier economic path to take than staying. There was little to be gained economically by leaving the EU, at least in the short term.

Were Britain to benefit more from bilateral trade and the markets of the Commonwealth following the exit, such gains might eventually offset the losses caused by Brexit. However, the diminished and less seamless movement of goods and workers through Europe will always be a loss to the economy.

Brexit is no way to "make Britain great again"

Some may have seen Brexit as a way to "make Britain great again" - "Global Britain", to use the term favoured by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. However, such days are long gone. Were Britain to attempt anything like that empire again, it would only be a farce this time rather than a repetition of tragedy, to paraphrase Karl Marx.

Economic concerns over Brexit failed to move those who voted to leave the EU, and it is not difficult to see why. Economic issues are only prominent in the headlines because the newspapers and news networks are owned by the rich, who stand to lose a lot.

Most people don't notice economic issues or care

News headlines almost always say more about the concerns of the small minority writing them, than about the interests of the common people.

For the proletarian majority, economic growth and the rise of the country on an chart of performance means quite little. They still exist in a state of wage slavery that only gets them through the day, and each day is much the same, regardless of the economic performance of the company or country.

The majority of people would not even agree that anything was wrong with the economy unless the country ran out of food and petrol or the prices skyrocketed until they were unaffordable. Nothing like that is going to happen. The supply lines for anything vital are unthreatened. This much is obvious to anyone, as no politician dependent on votes could tolerate the contrary.

We know from the population's acquiescence to Covid rules, that the majority are able to do just fine not even having any foreign holidays, and in fact many can't afford them anyway. They are okay with restrictions even on how and when to shop, and these things are worse than anything that could have been caused by Brexit.

Life is the same to most people, regardless of proclamations about the country's international standing or economic performance in the news. Some average joes may try to talk or tweet about these issues, but such is more an attempt to sound clever with their peers rather than any reflection of it actually affecting them in any way.

By and large, most people who voted for Brexit have shrugged off the economic warnings with good reason and are not bothered. They are completely unaffected, there is still food on the shelves and fuel in their cars.

Brits rejected Europe as a national identity

So, the talk of economic opportunities gained and lost through Brexit is irrelevant to the real feelings that likely motivated both sides when they cast their votes on the matter back in 2016. Brexit was more an issue of identity than performance on economic charts.

The European Union increasingly presents itself as a single nation, with a common foreign policy, and it is presented as the big boss on all matters social and economic. There is now a unified liberal "European" culture and values, which for some reason resemble the United States more than anything that was fought for by European people.

Bear in mind that many European countries carry crosses on their flags and have state religions, whereas the European Union is secular and carries stars on its flag. These icons of secular liberalism are the features of the United States, not Europe. The United States, which is distinctly non-European and was founded to reject the model of the states of Europe, but first and foremost to reject Britain and everything it represented.

It seems as if the EU is tone-deaf about identity and the sensibilities of the member countries, and has no historical roots in anything. Its very flag and values are like American graffiti. The term "United States of Europe" describes, really, what the EU is: the uneducated scheme of the witless Americanophiles whose father figures were the GIs who liberated their countries in World War Two.

In addition to the fact the EU fails to properly represent anything authentically European, and instead looks American, "Europeanness" even as an authentic ethnicity is rejected by the British. This schism dates all the way back to the reign of Elizabeth I, who set England on a path away from Catholicism at the time, causing the country's isolation from Catholic Europe.

In fact, Britain's original excommunication (or Brexcommunication?) from the Holy Mother Church resembled Brexit, including the search for alternate trade deals outside of Europe. No doubt, the British heretics were condemned then by their opponents at home and abroad to hell, as they are once again.

Shadows of the threat of Europe

While sectarian doctrinal differences are no longer of any importance to the matter, Britain's schism with European civilisation is still real, written into the country's history in blood.

Geopolitical anxieties are not limited to rulers and people who read Horrible Histories. They are very much present in the cultural and collective memory of a country. The British know the French were their enemies for a long time, and the memory of Germany occupying Europe only across the English Channel is known to them all. With this psychological aspect, European encroachment, even supposedly for our own good, is not welcome for many.

And Europe is significantly larger than Britain. When a larger power absorbs a smaller one, what is there to gain for the smaller power? What guarantees can there be that this empire won't devour the country, as its predecessors would have done?

When a hostile power has continuously manifested in the same place, even the least informed peasant in any land will become almost prescient about it. The memory of the geopolitical enemy gets under their skin if any similar power begins to assemble in that same place where the foreign threats arise.