Sneers could not win it for Remain

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 00.31.48For a long time, writes Dalrymple, Britons who wanted their country to leave the European Union were regarded

almost as mentally ill.

The Leavers

didn’t have an opinion; they had a pathology. Since one doesn’t argue with pathology, it wasn’t necessary for the Remainers to answer the Leavers with more than sneers and derision.

Even after the vote,

the attitude persists. Those who voted Leave are described as small-minded, xenophobic, and fearful of the future. Those who voted Remain are described as open-minded, cosmopolitan, and forward-looking. The BBC suggested as much on its website. The desire to Leave was a return to the insularity that resulted in the apocryphal headline Fog in channel — Continent cut off.

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 09.52.07If insularity is indeed on the rise, it is, Dalrymple notes,

affecting increasing numbers of Europeans.

Before the vote,

the danger of Brexit to the integrity of the EU was described in the French media in pathological terms, as a possible ‘contagion’ rather than an example to be followed or not.

The EU is faced, Dalrymple points out, with a dilemma.

On the one hand, it will not want to make Brexit too painless for Britain, in case other countries follow suit. On the other, it will not want to disturb trade with one of Europe’s largest economies. Britain’s trade with Europe is largely in Europe’s favour; it’s easier for Britain to find alternative sources of imports than for Europe to find alternative export markets.

One reason for the success of the Brexit campaign

was Barack Obama’s intervention, when he threatened that if Britain voted to leave the Union, it would have to go to the ‘back of the queue’ as far as trade agreements were concerned. This sounded like bullying, and was not well-received by much of the British population, which had already been subjected to quite a lot of such bullying from others. If I were an American, I shouldn’t have been pleased with it either, for Obama spoke not as a president with a few months left in office, but as a president-for-life, or at least one with the right to decide his successor’s policy.

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