I coined the phrase “The Big Sulk” to describe those who refused to accept the result of the 2016 UK Brexit referendum and who have refused to engage with its outcome in any constructive way. “So much time – so many sulks!” might well be the mantra for this past year. We all know that the Devil makes work for idle hands and, from student mobs attacking defenceless statues to teachers refusing to teach, it’s been like some proletarian Beezlebub himself was on a mission to prove that – especially contrasted with the cheery graft of frontline workers – every year of extra non-vocational education renders one less of a useful human being. Maybe those involved in such tantrums felt the absence of panto season this year, but whatever the reason, the squeals of “Brexit – it’s behind you!” are getting boring.
When are the Remoaners going to admit they were wrong all along? Look at the facts. Our vaccine triumph; I recently heard one of those state-sponsored Radio 4 news-based alleged “comedy” shows and the feeling of dismay when the success of the roll-out was mentioned was palpable. The fictional labour shortage; I’ve always found it weird how liberals seem to believe it’s fine for rich countries to go around robbing doctors and nurses from poor countries; now there’s less need, with applications among UK students to work in medicine rising by almost a third during the pandemic. We didn’t even get the super-gonorrhoea we were promised!
I can’t help thinking of Plato’s Myth Of The Cave; people in chains, seeing flickering shadows at the entrance which they take to be monsters, thus making them fearfully cling to their bonds. But when the boldest break free, they selflessly return to help their more cowardly comrades escape from the darkness of ignorance.
Just this week the former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, said that it was now a matter of time before the Eurozone bubble “bursts”, throwing the EU into great economic hardship. In France, the eurosceptic Marine Le Pen is neck and neck in the polls with Emmanuel Macron. In a recent column called ‘When Will Germany Grow Up?’, the German journalist Katja Hoyer mocked the idea that there is anything mature about calling one’s leader “Mutti” while pointing out that a recent Spiegel survey showed that “nearly two-thirds of Germans said that their opinion of the EU had worsened due to its botched vaccine procurement plans”.
I’ve often thought that if we Brits had a leader we called “Mummy” our liberal establishment would have a field day mocking us for being infantile nanny-obsessives. But let the Germans put their trust in an all-powerful leader and everything’s fine and dandy – because that always worked out fine for them, didn’t it?
When I think of what the EU will look like in 10 years’ time, I can’t help but think of those old soul acts who gradually become shadows of their original selves, members dropping out until there’s just one of the real line-up left. The new recruits do their best, but it isn’t convincing; Germany upfront still singing lead, but in a voice broken and croaky, while Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia bumble about in the background bumping into the scenery.
What we were told was maturity was only ever fear; “always keep a-hold of nurse” (or Mutti) ‘for fear of finding something worse’ is no way to run a country. We alleged Little Englanders don’t think it’s a big cruel world out there – they do, which makes Remainers, not we Brexiteers, the swivel-eyed misanthropes.
But carry on like this, thumbing your nose at your own government no matter how it succeeds while sucking up to foreign ones no matter how badly they do, and everyone’s going to think you’re a little odd psychologically – Stockholm Syndrome is never a good look.
Like a prisoner cringing in a cave and calling it home, they’ve forgotten the centuries when we were Europe, not the EU, where human rights were gained and masterpieces were written without the aid of a gravy train going nowhere. The EU was just a tiny blip in history – it’s over, let it go. Sulking isn’t going to turn back time – but it may well make you irrelevant in the future.