Tuesday, October 19

A brief history of Brexit: its 2,000 years | Brexit

Become Europeans

Julius Caesar’s offer for Britain to join Europe on the terms of the Roman Republic is patriotically rejected. But the treacherous British elites have sniffed at Rome’s international way of life and will soon be going there to deliver a small percentage of tribal GDP as an offering to the Capitol. At 43, they understand the modern financial vehicles known as coins and are worth annexing them to the European superstate of Emperor Claudius. Boadicea (although she probably doesn’t exist) tries to regain control, but the wheels slip off their chariot, and for the next 350 years the British are ruled by a nimbly touched continental elite and their collaborators.

Brexi # 1

Legions leave Britannia to fight each other where it matters. Tired of defenseless taxation, the British are crying out for freedom and doing it alone. But they are unable to obtain mutually acceptable bilateral trade agreements with the Picts and Scots, who insist on their right to attack in coracles. So the British beg the Romans to let them in again. The Romans are too busy trying to keep the newly-adhering Hungarians to European norms of behavior, so desperate Britons turn to obscure Germans called English, who record the approach like this: AD 443 This year he sent the Welsh British to Rome and asked for help against the Picts, but they gave them nothing, so they fought with Attila, king of the Huns, and then sent them to the English.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The English agree to fight in exchange for residency rights in the southeast. But they soon call in their dependents, flood the British, and impose their own culture.

Scandinavian E

By 790, New England is closely aligned with Charlemagne’s Europe. Then the freedom-loving Scandinavians flood the north and east, finally allowing Cnut to make England part of his Danish empire. Three Danish kings are followed by Edward the Confessor (half Norman) and Harold Godwinson (a half Danish Wessex warlord, hated by everyone north of the Thames). It is difficult to understand what English sovereignty means.

Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, portrayed in the Bayeux tapestry before his defeat to William the Conqueror.
Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, portrayed in the Bayeux tapestry before his defeat to William the Conqueror. Photograph: Print Collector / Getty Images

union with europe

William the Conqueror creates a new single market with northern France. Being English now means caring for pigs, sheep and cows so that the Francophone elite can feast on pork, lamb and beef. For the next 900 years, any single English is not quite as it should be. And if you don’t get it, well, it just shows.

Brexi # 2

Henry VIII wants a divorce, really, really; a new aspiring elite wants to upset the Catholic Church. They use cutting-edge German social media technology, print, to make up fake news: If England breaks with Rome, there will be a financial dividend for everyone and a boost for the NHS Tudor.

Then these great exactions of yesteryear will cease … Then We will have enough and more, then it will be enough for us, it will be the best hospital that has ever been founded for us.
Supplycacion for the beggars (1528/9)

Back to europe

Brexit # 2 plunges the British Isles into fierce wars. At last, the desperate English invite the Dutch to invade and fix things. So England has a Dutch king who can barely speak English, then it ceases to exist in 1707 when a new thing called Great Britain gets a German king who can barely speak English. But that’s fine because both kings, like the entire English elite, can speak French.

Brexi # 3

At Waterloo, the new United Kingdom has 28,000 men, more than half of them Irish or Scots, and defeats Napoleon thanks to another 90,000 European soldiers. But being European is hard work, so we went out. Our exit strategy is brilliant: hand over the rich industrial Rhineland to militaristic Prussia, thereby condemning the Danes, Poles, Austrians, French, and virtually everyone for the next 130 years.

Benjamin Disraeli.
Benjamin Disraeli. Photograph: World History Archive / Universal Image Group / Getty Images

Brexi # 4

Under Disraeli, the UK plays the game in Europe, becoming the continent’s referee. But the first great populist, Gladstone, withdraws from unnecessary entanglements in Europe. For 20 years, everyone has known that France and Russia are coming against Austria and Germany, but we insist that we have no skin in the game. When it is too late to stop the deluge, we finally lean on France and the hideous dictatorship that is Tsarist Russia.

world wars and one sane Act

Having won at a terrible price, we go back to pretending that we are not European, until we have to join with France and the horrible dictatorship that is Stalinist Russia to do it all again 20 years later. But we can’t tell the difference between “we bravely held out until the biggest players turned the game around” (true) and “we won WWII” (false), even though the Americans now clearly run the world and we clearly already I don’t have an empire.

By boldly confronting this national deception, Edward Heath, backed by Margaret Thatcher, simply defeats Labor and the Powellists (‘I’m afraid so) and brings us back to Europe. In 1975, we agreed by a large majority to stay there.

Only U.S

Thatcher is expelled by her own party for becoming an American libertarian. Their army of continuity, “like a mad Marxist sect” (Douglas Hurd), unleashes a culture war against Europe because they hate maternity leave. The burly John Major fires the “bastards” (his word), but the coward David Cameron lets the “rolling-eyed fools” (his words) have their referendum. Supported by tax exile news owners, crazy Trotskyists, and the poignant overconfidence of pro-Europeans in our collective sanity, the English National Party, led by popular comedy Boris “Merrie Monarch” Johnson, narrowly wins, then claims that one -all draw (1975 v 2016) represents the eternal will of the English people, so the rest of us are traitors.


The UK dies and the English are finally alone again. Happy New Year.

James Hawes’ latest book is The Shortest History of England


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