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Sticky Wicket, Chaps!

A sign at Saturday's thousands-strong, anti-Brexit March for Europe. (Photo: duncan c/flickr/cc)

Britain just shot itself in both feet by voting to quit the European Union. After this tragedy comes the farce.

London’s ruling class Tory toffs are now making even bigger fools of themselves by indulging in an ugly, backstabbing power struggle worthy of the TV drama, ‘Game of Thrones.’

Boris Johnson, the presumptive heir to the bungling prime minister, David Cameron, was ready to be crowned. But he was stabbed in the back at the 11th hour by his old friend and ally, Michael Gove. Other Tories, like the hardline Theresa May, jumped into the race. Poor old Boris, who charmingly resembles Paddington the Bear, was forced to quit the race.

On the Labour side, the startling ineffectual socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, utterly failed to rally his troops to oppose Brexit. Working class votes swung the vote to exit. Labour leaders now call for Corbyn’s head, and rightly so.

It’s by now clear that a thin majority of British voted to decamp the EU because of anger at falling wages and rising prices, unemployment, and immigration of brown skinned people. And, of course, ye olde English dislike of the ‘bloody foreigners.’

The insulated, well-padded political class in London really didn’t give a damn about the unwashed, drunken football hooligans in the north who were the antithesis of the faux Merry Olde England that Americans so love.

Worse, it now transpires that the leaders of the Brexit vote didn’t actually expect it to succeed and didn’t know what to do next when it did. Many Brexit supporters had no idea what the European Union was. Just a bunch of ‘bloody foreigners.’

Those Brexit fans who screamed about lack of democracy in the EU didn’t seem to appreciate the glaring lack of democracy in Britain’s own incestuous political system where party members, not the public, select the leadership in a process worthy of the Kremlin.

On a sunnier note, the financial panic caused by the Brexit vote seems to have subsided. Rickety British banks did not collapse – at least not yet. The pound sterling, which the government has kept seriously overvalued for decades, sagged. That was a good thing. Prices in Britain are absurdly expensive due to the fortified pound. A US $1.20 pound would do wonders for Britain’s industry and tourism.

But the Tory ruling class has kept the pound artificially high to support their nation’s pretensions of imperial grandeur. Britain can no longer afford to be America’s gendarme cum Trojan Horse in Europe.

Britannia no longer rules the waves. London spends far too much on ego-boosting military power and overly big government. Whitehall still appears proudly imperial, but the north of England, where tourists never go, looks grim and shabby.

The ever-sensible Scots, who were bribed into joining the United Kingdom in 1707, may soon vote soon to get out of the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Cosmopolitan Greater London, which rather likes the ‘bloody foreigners,’ and is filled with them, would also like to divorce from Britain.

But money, as in most divorces, is at the heart of things. The disastrous reaction of western central banks to the 2007-2008 financial crisis to keep interest rates at rock bottom has punished savers, workers and the middle class in the UK and USA.

‘Why should we subsidize the big banks,’ they rightly ask. The central bank financial alchemists have run out of tricks, purple smoke, and spells. Britons, like Americans, see fat cats in London and New York living the life of Reilly while they scrape for pennies. This is a classic recipe for revolution.

The Brits simply picked the wrong target for their ire in good part thanks to London’s rabid gutter press which promotes xenophobia and Islamophobia. The right target should have been the still poisonous class system and medieval political parties. At least the Brits showed that Americans have no monopoly on picking awful political leaders.

Britain, which used to be the world’s factory, is a manufacturing wasteland. Eighty percent of its business is services – ie paper-passing and financial jiggery-pokery. Some of it will migrate to the Continent. Britain – maybe henceforth England, if the Scots and Irish depart – will become a middling power ever more reliant on the Americans while the detested French and Germans run Europe. English may no longer be the lingua franca of the EU.

In short, a jolly bad show, chaps.

Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis is a columnist, author and a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East. Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World.

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