I had said last time that I was reading “Victoria – A Life” by AN Wilson. The Victoria of whom Mr Wilson writes is, of course, the late Queen Victoria of England and all its worldwide Empire. So long have I lived, I often forget that England once had an Empire – the mightiest which mankind has ever seen. I keep having to remind myself that once upon a time all the nations of the world, even the nation of America, bowed down to England in awe. Now, today, the boot is – so to speak – on the other foot, for it is England which bows down to America in awe.
I’m reminded uncomfortably of all this by the publication of the report – painstakingly put together by Sir John Chilcot – that definitively (one hopes) cements Mr Anthony Blair permanently in infamy. The sight of an Englishman, the unspeakable Mr Blair, prancing like a popinjay at the side of an American, the equally unspeakable Mr George Bush, made me ashamed to call myself an Englishman. Would Queen Victoria’s prime ministers, like Mr Gladstone or Lord Salisbury, have pranced like popinjays at the side of Emperor Wilhelm the First or Emperor Wilhelm the Second? Perish the thought. If they had, Queen Victoria would have ordered their severed heads brought to her on a silver platter, believe you me.
I think that had Mr Blair, when a young man, served as a soldier in the British Army, he would have had the perfect passage into manhood, of which he would have had sufficient confidence thereafter, so as not to feel he had to act as a quasi-man when at the side of Mr Bush, who, by the way, seemed also to me a quasi-man.
I wish now to speak of “Brexit” – a neologism so arresting that a man in America, who makes alcoholic beverages and sells them at a profit, plans to produce a cider and call it “Brexit”. This does make entrepreneurial sense, because cider is so quintessentially the drink of the Englishman, that an American, while drinking Brexit Cider, will be able to imagine he’s an Englishman, and behave all the better for this. But, why stop at Brexit Cider? Why not also Brexit Tomato Sauce? Or Brexit Pork Pies? I’ll surmise this idea is already illuminating the minds of other Americans as faithful to the word of Adam Smith as they are faithful to the word of God.
I have to say, I was most disappointed at the decision of those Englishmen who still live in England, to leave the European Union. If this decision sticks, England will never again be important in the world. As long as we Englishmen remained in Europe, there was always the chance we could become the undisputed leader of Europe, and thereby again throw our weight about in the world.
We Englishmen have to face the reality, though, that the weight which we can throw about in today’s world if we have a mind to, isn’t as heavy as the weight we threw around yesterday’s world when Queen Victoria reigned. We can only compensate for this if we remain tightly in Europe, and take over as its leader. Only then will the men of America regard us seriously.
Since it appears that most of the Englishmen who voted that England leave Europe, now realise they didn’t know really what they were voting for, I can only hope that the government of England will give Englishmen another chance to vote again on whether or not to remain in Europe. I’m confident that this time the Englishman, having now seen how wrong he was the first time, will put matters right the next time.