Brexit feels like a genuine turning point for the better of some significance. Not just unexpected in the sense of not forecast, but unexpected because we social conservatives expect the world to blunder from one low point to the next. Perhaps a false dawn, but at least it has the look of a brighter possible future. It is why those of us on the Brexit side are as happy as we are, since nothing like this has been on anyone’s radar for quite some time.
And if the young really think that this is for them to decide and not for anyone who will not share their glorious future in the latter half of the century, then their shallowness is all the more profound, since they are not counting in all of the generations past who have made England what it is. This is from James Delingpole who said it better than anyone on the day before the vote was taken.
My American friends asked me the other day what exactly I meant by Britishness. For me, though, all it means is a heartfelt sympathy with our island story – 1066; Magna Carta; the Civil War; the Glorious Revolution; Waterloo; 1940 “Our Finest Hour”; and so on; and an appreciation of the achievements of the heroes and heroines who made it possible, from Alfred the Great through to Queen Elizabeth I, from Shakespeare to Elgar, from Florence Nightingale and Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
My grandparents had been born in Poland and I grew up in Canada. But when I went to Agincourt and Crécy in 2014, I was celebrating battles that WE had won, just as I felt as I travelled along the Western Front towards Paris, visiting Fromelles and Vimy Ridge where WE – this time an Australian and Canadian WE – had fought. The great tragedy for our young is that they do not have any of this tradition made part of them. But some of them do and some of it is left and some of it will continue. We speak English and still read Shakespeare in Australia for a reason. Sydney and Melbourne are named after two peers of the realm. I live in Victoria. We have a heritage and a tradition that goes back a thousand years to the British Isles which is, of course, married to an indigenous tradition as well. Brexit has salvaged some of that for the future. It will now be up to others either to throw it away for no possible gain I can see, or preserve our past and our history for themselves and for those who come long after.