In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

May takes Britain on journey to nowhere

Posted by seumasach on January 18, 2017

Cailean Bochanan

18th January, 2017

The most striking feature of May’s latest attempt to clarify Brexit is that “global” Britain will remain focused on Europe. We our leaving Europe only in order to reengage with Europe, except this time without free movement: Europe without Europeans.


But I thought it was to be “Out of Europe, into the world!”. Leaving the EU could make some kind of sense if there were other geo-strategic options – a union of English-speaking peoples for example, the Oceania option which I have highlighted in the past. But instead we get tautology: Brexit means Brexit. “Out of Europe, into Europe!”.
Perhaps the whole project was incoherent from the start. Or could it be that there were other options which are no longer operative? Has something gone wrong?
Since Trump won the presidential election he has taken a seeming delight in mocking the British government. He continued in this vein only the other day by ceding an interview to another of May’s arch-enemies, the Henry Jackson Society’s Michael Gove. Admittedly he tossed Gove a bone in hinting at a “great” trade deal with Britain but I don’t think May will draw much consolation from that even if it does put the New Zealand deal in the shade. She would, rather, have been fixed aghast at his renewed declaration of hostility to NATO. If the special relationship is about anything it’s about “security”- May must be feeling very,very insecure.
As I wrote last July, in one of several attempts to solve the riddle of Brexit:

“Having “taken our country back” we now await events elsewhere to give us direction. Specifically, the US presidential elections. If our relationship with the EU is now in question the “special relationship” is no less so. Under Obama it appeared to come to an end and even now Kerry is talking up reversing Brexit. Trump may applaud British isolationism but intends the same for his own country. Clinton, if the FBI don’t take her out, remains the great hope of the Atlanticists and neocons. She promises the renewal of the Anglo-American partnership and hegemony.”

Post-Brexit Britain certainly seemed to be anticipating that happy outcome of a Clinton victory and a return to the charge against allcomers. Most notably we were gaily provoking Russia as if there was no tomorrow. But all changed, a terrible election result put a spanner in the works. So instead of a pean of praise for a reborn Anglo-American partnership May offered up a sort of “absence makes the heart grow fonder- we’ll love you and leave you” perspective on Europe. The Europeans look puzzled. I definitely am. But there is also concern. There must be something else. What has May got up her sleeve? What card is she about to play to destabilize Europe? Surely not the Hacim Thaci, Kosovo-Albanian card?

Is there some fiendishly clever plan? Or are we just where we appear to be- on the road to nowhere.

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