Beautiful interview Simon. My parents were teenagers when WW2 ended and I live a walk away from the British Airborne cemetery at Oosterbeek. That we don’t better celebrate what binds us in Europe and transatlantically is a very sore spot to me as well. It certainly isn’t difficult for my parents and grandparents for whom the British, Canadian and American flags represent their own personalized liberty. A United Europe is a beautiful and fabulous reality, I just had a friend over for lunch who is from Austria. Around the corner two retired dancers live, he from the UK, she from Canada. Further down the street a Russian violinist. Across from me a South African lady, further up the street a family from New Zealand and across from them a Turkish banker. The list goes on and it is pure delight to have so much variety.
And that’s what Europe is all about, E pluribus unum, the Americans have it. It’s not only ideologically correct, there also isn’t a serious alternative. That Brexit would be an immensely costly disaster was clear all along except for those deluded by the fraudsters who intentionally mislead people, never questioning the opinions of experts but said that we no longer need experts.
Europe is the good fight, Britain may set a terrible example of what happens when you don’t understand the world today, which is that it is a terribly complex and highly integrated globalized world of which the EU is a central nexus. One may not like the EU but then you join it in order to fight that good fight.
We had high hopes that Cameron and Clegg would actually engage with us and found a liberal-atlanticist coalition in Europe with like minded nations such as the Netherlands and the Nordic countries. But alas we never quite understood just how remote Britain’s various groups actually feel from Europe. That the fantasy that Britain could go it alone was sustained. We never had that notion to begin with so it was a surprise that it so clouded people’s judgment. Now it is clear that even the most friendly customs arrangement costs billions of pounds annually and adds a massive complexity to British businesses who do business with the continent.
I still don’t believe that that Brexit will happen.
As for Corbyn, like Sanders in the US he may be the first of a new breed of socialists, who discover a more internationalist narrative, a globalizing socialism, a hopefully less militant return of the international. That actually should return a welcome global political duality and opposition to globalism where at least we share the understanding that the nation no longer has the tools to address the bigger issues of these days, climate change, automation, global economy.
The EU already is our forum for that, Britain can be in our out but is bound to the agreements nevertheless.