From this side of the channel, Perfidious Albion has rarely seemed more apt. From both sides of La Manche, Foolish Albion may stain its future.
As the long and complicated post mortem starts, the Today programme noted the sombre mood, a sombre mood across the nation. Newport and their UKIP whooping apart, and beyond a simple state of shock uncertainty looms. It was suggested on the news in France and in today’s Guardian ,and Nigel Farage’s would be concession speech suggests as much, that the Outers never expected to win, and as such it was in part a shot across the bows. But a shot, badly aimed and now mortal.
The establishment has been duly warned, so much so, it’s as good as sunk.
And looking at the maps of voting acoss England in particular, there is a striking similarity to the voting patterns in the US. In the UK major urban centres, London, Manchester, Liverpol, Bristol and company all voted in. In the rural swathes of the country it was the out that dominated. In the US it’s the Blue Democratic seaboards and vast Republican Red in between.
Worse, this very unlikely Out victory makes the terrifying idea of a Trump presidency more prescient. No one really expected the Out to win, nor do they Trump; for now.
It is terrible to put it in these terms, but even The Guardian admitted as much, voting patterns were largely dictated not only by age, but more importantly by education and social position. I have always maintained that the fact the Sun newspaper is the premier source of news and opinion (sic) for over 4 million of the British population is initself a devastating and insidious indictiment.
Here in France populism and demagoguery are honey to the dispossessed, bitter and fearful, who have everyone to blame except themselves. In this campaign, and outrageously, the scourge was the callous, scheming immigrant. If they think Brexit is going to improve their lives, well they are going to have plenty of time to find out.
At least they know where that £350m a week is really going to be spent, on debt and deficit. Alas, it won’t go to the NHS, because they admit that was a total lie. No doubt just a white lie.
So that is on half of two Albions; the currently ecstatic, little Britain, frankly xenophobic, petrified part. Long may theIr joy last, but I think it’s going to be whole lot tougher than they think. If they did actually think.
But what of the other Albion, the 48,2% of every two people in the UK who wanted to stay in, not necessarily to fulfill the European project to its teutonic acme, but at least to protect the status quo for present and future generations?
To have lost the opportunity to leave, would have been the protection of the status quo, continued appartenance to an imperfect system, but a system from which it cannot be denied, Britain gained at least some advantage. It could have been a valiant, and vocal warning. A call to arms and a call for direly needed, deep reform.
But now one in two Britons have been denied all they had. Their cake has been summarily taken off the table and the level of bitterness and regret is and will be huge and long lasting.
Politics will be a mess: the Conservatives will be once more riven by partisan strife, as too are Labour. Mr Corbyn, who I felt a very bad idea from the start, may not enjoy the support of his parliamentary peers, but he does have the support of the party. So another election to fight and lose, probably to Boris Johnson and a rejuvenated Conservative right (John Redwood for Home Secretary anyone? Now there’s a scary thought.)
Even in sclerotic France, power is firmly entrenched in the centre; is there still a centre in the UK? It strikes me that the UK is now so firmly divided in two that by geometrical definition, a material centre cannot exist. There is just a void. A chasm is perhaps more apposite.
And as a final, calamitous nail in David Cameron’s coffin, is the highly likely, and I say justified, probable demand for a new indepencence referendum in Scotland. For God’s sake, it would only be fair; last time they were brow beaten with the stick of having to leave Europe, and the country voted unanimously, at least by regional authority to stay in. Where is the justice in that?
So after six years of fairly effective, if anodine government, David Cameron’s legacy may be nothing more than the departure of Britain from the EU and the probable break-up of the Union. He is not going to get that Baronetcy yet.