Sunday, May 19, 2024
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The ignorance and arrogance of the Remainers


A WRITER called James Hawes has just brought out a book called The Shortest History of England (288 pages). If you see who praises it, you may guess its political tendency. 

Promoting it, he has written an article for Unherd entitled Angela Merkel saved the West,  which is a fine piece of Remainer coat-trailing, as the furious comments section shows.

In passing, the author recounts an anecdote that made my diesel engine cough into life:

‘I have twice been told by a German insider . . . that at the 2015 G7 meeting at Schloss Elmau, Merkel, Cameron’s best friend in Europe, personally begged him not to hold his utterly needless referendum and “throw away 800 years of parliamentary rule”.’

I will do Frau Merkel the courtesy of not calling her a cynical, manipulative liar; I shall believe that she was giving her sincere opinion. If so, she is – I flail about for a suitable adverb – astoundingly ignorant and blinkered. So for her edification and your convenience, I shall now offer a much, much shorter history of England.

Frau Merkel seems to think that Parliament is an instrument of rule, as it is in the EU, where those delegates who do not simply sign in and then take their wheelie luggage straight back on the train remain to air their views powerlessly.

She does not understand that we are ruled not by Parliament but by a monarch, albeit one whose awesome powers have devolved onto the Privy Council and especially the British Prime Minister and Cabinet, all of whom are automatically members. It is now 241 years since John Dunning MP moved his resolution that ‘the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished’; this is long overdue for resubmission, perhaps with the substitution of ‘Prime Minister’ for ‘Crown’; indeed it should have been remooted when Mr Blair brought his wrecking ball to the Constitution, but surely now we have seen the whim of iron wielded by the Government during the Covid crisis we feel its relevance more than for a very long time.

Merkel remembered that Parliament’s roots go back eight centuries, but seems to have forgotten the significance of 1215. Runnymede saw the first of several versions of Magna Carta and was about the restraint of autocratic power, not its passive transmission as the deluded German Empress imagines. The same Charter also established Parliament to set controls on the King, especially in money matters. The key role of our representatives is to scrutinise, moderate and sometimes outright oppose the ruler who is tempted to say ‘The very firstlings of my heart shall be / The firstlings of my hand.’

Speaking of Scottish kings, we had the strife all over again when the Stuarts came to the throne, bringing their cronies and Celtic absolutist kingship with them; not to mention religious bigotry and double-dealing (‘Na, na, we’ll no’ need the Catholics noo.’) There was a little discussion about that in the 1640s, following which we discovered that we didn’t like despots even if they were Puritans.

I can understand and forgive ignorance, but it is asking too much to accept it when it is accompanied by egregious arrogance, as we see even among those Remainers who are obviously literate, even littérateurs. I can only think it is due to an inability to distinguish between what the European Project means to them, and what it actually is. The EU is adept at the emotional management of us by signs, symbols and words, which we use to process our perceptions of reality. Its cheerleaders in Britain are so wedded to the groupthink that they cannot see that the EU is institutionally antidemocratic; it wields the Ring of Power that even Gandalf feared to handle, and like groupthinkers they feel compelled to misrepresent and despise those who disagree with them. The English intellectual, unable to see what is in front of his nose, instead looks down it at the rest of us. 

What a shame, for leaving the EU was only the first struggle; the people are now at war with several great Empires.

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Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk is a former teacher and retired independent financial adviser.

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