The Brexit Fight, Through a Reaper’s Prism of Changed Continent

London – An image from my sepia-toned memory in the 1950s: A summer wheat field in northern France with poppy-free, English holidaymakers stopping for tea. A man pricks a hand-cranked paraffin stove. A ripe kettle is produced, and a teapot. Driving by its bouncy Citroën 2 CV and shapely Renault Dupine, French motorists follow the ritual with tolerant deceptive or disgusting disdain. British travelers, a rarity, wave when they attach a sort of license plate.

It is often said – especially now that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signed a post-Brexit deal with the European Union – that Britain’s willingness to leave the EU lies in apathy, to the previous glory of a bulldog nation There is an ardor. Imagine striking alone slogans, “Take back control, “Has resonated with enough power for Mr. Johnson and won an overwhelming majority in it Election a year ago.

In fact, confronted by a mutant, with the land in a nearby lockout and Highly communicable form of coronovirusThe very idea of ​​control has become more compelling, as parallel narratives of politics and epidemics delve into a yearning for a yearning and a relapse from some renewal. Both hinge on the notion of sovereignty that may seem at odds with a world in which economic dependence and disease have snatched national borders with equal and comparable ease.

This week, it almost looked as if the two had combined. Worried over new types of virus in Britain French President Emmanuel Macron, In quarantine itself after testing positive for Kovid-19, ordered the border to be closed, even as some 50 countries introduced a ban, or outright ban on travelers from Britain.

Thousands of trucks – stranded in Britain as of Christmas and deadline to close Brexit trade deal – Snarled approach to port of Dover And the entrance near the Channel Tunnel.

It may be a cliché, but the events were tempting to compare it to a perfect storm: the way Britain was about to bid farewell to the European Union, Kovid-19 separated it from the world. The chaos of trucks in the surrounding countryside in Kent on British highways and on former airfields Writ, a precursor to life outside the European Union, can mean big.

Against such momentary upheavals, so many years before Northern France, when the memory of the global conflict was still vivid, spoke with a distinct yearning.

The papists, of course, stopped the dead of World War I, but stood for renewal after World War II. And, in its modest way, the tea-making family (my own) ventured into the “Continent” in the late 1950s, part of a vigilante pawn of vigilance when it was headed for UK membership in January 1973. European Community, confirmed by a referendum two years later.

Like that first ballot, A second referendum in 2016 was technically non-binding but politically beyond challenge. More than half of voters – 52 percent – voted to leave, a symbol of dissatisfaction and disconnection, a chance of plaguing the collective against the elite. But for some of the 48 percent of voters who now aspired to remain in the larger European Union, this choice was rooted within the body of identity and common destiny that helped strengthen European peace that my father had The generation fought for it.

Since then, four years of horrific dialogue and a split in politics have not relieved. “Leave” became a mantra in Britain’s near-mystical evacuation, as it was in the colonial era, wandering the far-flung oceans in search of trade and prosperity, in control of its destiny, from the “freemasons” of outsiders Free. Novelist David Cornwell, who wrote John Le Carre Until his death this month, It is called “fake” nostalgia.

Yet “remaining”, too, was a siren call from the more recent past of stability and prosperity, free movement and cosmopolitanism. While saying that they want to look at both sides, it sometimes seems, looking back – and at each other with similar chromatic distortion in their rose-colored glasses.

On the other hand for the Riemann camp, EU membership came with any number of luxuries, such as the small blue European health insurance card, which provides UK health care to state providers in 27 countries; Student exchange program; A driver’s license that was valid in Bologna, like Brolan. Such privileges can be considered part of the sacrifice demanded by the Brussels’ sight of the Brooksighters, who were loosened by Britain from the shackles of the Brussels bureaucracy to reach its true destiny.

There will be other costs, in response to questions about the shrinking of the UK economy and Lakune in the latest agreement, the remainder and others argue, especially Absence of guarantee for British financial services It has made its banks, brokers, traders and insurance companies the powerhouse as the bulk of the UK economy. While the deal gives British businesses access to continental markets without punitive fees or restrictive quotas, the possibility of bureaucratic tangles and the reversal effect of old national distinctions dates back to earlier times.

When I look back on the days by the poppy-farms of northern France, I remember that we needed a document called a Carnet to obtain the ancestral Austin A40 on the myriad borders of Europe; Coupons for buying gas in France; Traveler’s checks convert to francs and D-Marx and Italian liers and all other currencies that preceded the single euro currency.

And when I thumb through the old 1970s passport with its thick, navy blue, pasteboard cover, I see pages recording exchange control regulations that prolong my foreign exchange behavior, The cumbersome paperwork is part of the web that has to be rebuilt. Almost that which sometimes went smooth-travel within the continent. This is followed by the arrival and departure of entry visas to Belgium, Switzerland and other places which no longer require such formalities from British travelers.

But perhaps beyond the bare-knit propaganda campaign for the 2016 Brexit referendum was only vague glimpses, the sheer complexity and national divide that flowed from the prospect of disconnecting the web from Europe of bonds and hostilities, rivalries and alliances Will happen.

At its core, Brexit represents a victory within the conservative party for those who have fundamentally changed the count of the country where its interests lie, a victory over pragmatism for which Britain once prized itself Make.

This is a tectonic shift that largely ignored voters’ sentiments, which Lever mocked as revelers. Already it has amplified the constituent elements of the United Kingdom, particularly the centrifugal forces in Scotland, which voted to remain in the European Union and where 300 years old is becoming a groundswell in favor of leaving the United Kingdom.

Whatever the case, this collision of Kovid-19 and Brexit has confirmed the most self-congratulatory penetration of British exceptionalism. Prime Minister Johnson regularly refers to British science as a world-beating, even though the country has died the second highest Kovid-19 in Europe after Italy. A British government minister described his country as better than the rest of the world, largely because it was the first to approve the rollout of vaccines developed in Germany and manufactured in Belgium.

“We’ve got very good people in this country and we’ve clearly got the best medical regulators” Minister, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. “Much better than the French, much better than the Belgian people, much better than the Americans. I am not surprised by this because we are a much better country than every one of them, we Are not. “

In this blur of Britain’s membership in the most successful post-war blocs, no one is evaluating whoever is building it can escape the context of credibility.

For many years my complexion is colorful and looking at Britain from outside has remained a European identity. During many years in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, I have lived in Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Italy and France several times. I traveled the continent, from the icy efficiency of its northern outpost on the Baltic to the sunshine of the Mediterranean Sea and the bloodshed of the Balkans. I enjoyed the fact that my European identity was embellished My European-style, plum-colored British passport.

Prime Minister Johnson and his supporters are hoping that the agreement between the people of Britain will relieve the exaggerated sentiment. More ominous, however, opinion polls have found strong evidence that many of the ideas he expressed during the 2016 referendum battle, which Britain says have not resolved the division of the nation. The 2016 options are no longer on the table. With the European Union alienated, Britain has signaled a profound change not only in its relations with Brussels, but also in relation to the European project to the rest of the world.

“This moment marks the end of a long journey,” Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, Blak’s executive arm. Like the journey through poppy fields of northern France those decades ago, it was also a new, inaccessible in the unknown.

Alan Cowell was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times for more than three decades and is now an independent contributor to London-based The Times.

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