One of my favourite songs of all time is this one from 1927, by the very wonderful Blind Willie Johnson (he has a voice which on occasion sounds like he’s spitting up barbed wire, but boy can he sing):
The essence of maturity is taking responsibility for your mistakes.
The more you say to yourself, “yep, that one’s on me alright”; paradoxically, the more empowered you become. When we’re toddlers, we naturally seek to blame anyone and everything else – “No Mum, s/he did it, not me!”, etc. You see it in young people when personal relationships go pear-shaped – it’s never their fault – the other person, if female, invariably is a “bitch“, and, if male, invariably is a “bastard” or a “pig“, and you of course are a fucking martyr with a halo that can be seen from space. We’ve all been there lol.
It is a eureka moment for most people once they realise that personal power is the obverse of personal responsibility. If you were responsible for breaking it this time, it follows that you also have the scope to fix it for next time. Much better to take some flak in the short term, in the knowledge that you can do something about it next time. But if your default mindset is to dodge responsibility, and to point the finger at everyone and everything else, then you also condemn yourself to a life mired in passivity and powerlessness (not to mention self-pity, impotent rage, and puffed-up self-importance).
That realisation is a basic marker of adulthood that largely is absent from the Brexiter mentality. In Brexit-land, in the reliably-furious and perma-outraged pages of the Daily Fail, the Daily Sexpress, and the Torygraph, there’s always someone else (some conniving foreign person or some traitorous Remainer) to blame for the baffling lack of unicorns.
As The New European noted recently:
“[Boris Johnson]’s explanation for our current national calamity on The Andrew Marr Show last Sunday saw more pointed fingers than a heavy metal concert.
The lorry driver crisis is the fault of the road haulage industry. The historic waste of British pork crisis is the fault of the “pig slaughtering industry”. The petrol crisis is due to “demand issues” or, in other words, you. The policing crisis is the fault of Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police.
The energy price crisis, empty shelves crisis, impending inflation crisis are all the fault of the pandemic and British business. Conspicuously, Brexit doesn’t get a look in.”
Now, the buck-passing Brexiters are at it again, after the recent tragedy of immigrant deaths in the English Channel..
Cast your mind back to Farage’s racist anti-immigration poster. It was a pivotal moment in the Brexit debate in the run-up to the Brexit vote:
The above Brexit poster was reported to the police for incitement to racial hatred, but it did its job well. Remember all the furore in 2016 about the “millions of Turks” who would surely “swamp” Britain?
British Home Secretary Priti Patel, herself a daughter of immigrants, has plans to deploy Royal Navy warships against immigrant dinghies. And so on. All that “taking back control of borders” schtick. Hare-brained machoism and childish knee-jerkism, frankly. The wash from a large warship will sink overloaded dinghies, leading to inevitable domestic political uproar. Patel’s silly idea was rightly dismissed by former UK Home Secretary (remember when Britain used to have sensible politicians at the helm), Jack Straw, as “potty“. But that’s the calibre of person running Britain today.
Predictably, by leaving the EU, the exact opposite has happened. Inside the EU, the UK had the benefit of the EU’s Dublin Agreement, whereunder EU member states had a right to return immigrants to other EU states. And, obviously, EU states cooperate with each other on immigration.
Now, by contrast, as The Guardian <reports>:
“One 19-year-old man from Sudan who is currently in Calais said: “We believe we will not be safe unless we can reach the UK. Here the French police beat us and evict us every day from the places where we are sleeping outside. It brings back bad memories from Libya where I was locked up and beaten many times by traffickers. Because of Brexit I believe that once I reach the UK I will be safe at last. No Dublin, no fingerprints any more.”
One Kurdish man who gave his name as Navid, and is sleeping in a tent in Dunkirk, said his family had made an arrangement with smugglers to pay for him to cross in a small boat.
“Everyone here is saying to me that because of Brexit it is much easier to find safety in the UK,” he said. “I hope I will manage to cross without losing my life and find a safe future in the UK.”
Ironically, in the year before Britain left the EU, thanks to the EU’s Dublin Agreement, Britain was able to return 289 refugees. And now that Britain has left the EU, and is now allegedly in control of its borders, now many refugees was Britain able to return in 2021?
Five. That’s right – 5 – a mere fraction of what it could have done had it been in the EU. Tom Pursglove, a UK immigration minister, said there had been <“difficulties securing returns“>. Even on Brexiter’s own terms, Brexit isn’t working.
It’s self-evident that, if you leave the EU, and no longer have the protection of the Dublin Agreement and can no longer rely on full cooperation from fellow EU countries (because, doh, you’re no longer in the EU), of course you will have increased illegal immigration across the English Channel.
Brexit has very obviously facilitated all this, and is a prime causal factor in the recent horrific deaths of 27 unfortunate souls in the English Channel. To any halfway rational observer, it’s a straightforward consequence of Brexit. Much of the point of the EU was to have a framework for cooperation on such matters. It’s delusional to exit the EU and then to gripe about not having the cooperation you took for granted over the last half century of EU membership.
But do you think any Brexiter will ever admit to even the slightest tincture of complicity / accountability / responsibility?
Yep, you got it, it’s the bloody French wot’s responsible, innit? An article in today’s Daily Mail by Sarah Vine, spouse of the Gove ninny (the bloke who needs sedatives before he can get on an aeroplane), says the deaths in the Channel primarily are down to Macron being an anti-Brexit bigot. The headline of today’s article reads: “Emmanuel Macron’s hatred of Brexit has blinded him to the unfolding human catastrophe.”
Brexit? Nothing to do with it guv.
As ever, the Brexiters want to have all the advantages of membership without being members. When Brexit creates yet another problem, instead of being embarrassed at the circular-firing-squad logic of their “position”, they instead default to outrage, priggism, and, as ever, blaming the French.
It’s not fair, runs the Brexiter whinge – if only the rest of the world would behave like they do in our sunlit uplands dreams, then Brexit would be a big success.
If only, if only. I guess we’ve all at some stage in our childood briefly taken refuge in “if onlys”, folks; but as a strategy for government of a formerly-serious country, it has precious little to recommend it.
Toddlers, folks; political toddlers. Brexit is the start of a very long path back to political maturity for Britain. Don’t hold your breath.
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