The Telegraph wants us to stop talking Britain down, as if the only thing stopping the UK from landing a great Brexit deal is lack of faith. It’s not really a surprise. Brexiteers really believe in Britain. Nothing gets them hard faster than the Union Jack rippling majestically in the wind. Nothing makes them happy like the idea of Britain negotiating our own trade deals free from EU inconveniences like environmental safety. Nothing makes them more nostalgic than the pomp and ceremonial hangovers from the British Empire.
Brexiteers believe Britain is great country and we can achieve great things. We have a huge economy and a dynamic workforce. This confidence is characterised by the view that the EU needs us as much as we need them. They believe that Britain is so rich that it would be a mark of idiotic, economic self-harm not to give the UK an amazingly accommodating trade deal.
It is this confidence in Britain that got us into the Brexit mess. Pro-Brexit MPs managed to convince enough of the country that Britain is so bloody good it can rip up its trading relationship with its biggest trade partner and be better off. Liam Fox claimed striking a trade deal with the EU would be one of the “easiest in human history”. Now that this has proved more difficult than anticipated, Brexiteers believe that confidence in Britain will get us out of the mess it got us into.
For many Brexiteers, belief in Britain is like a religion and don't you dare question it. Britain won two world wars and conquered half the globe, but are we are great country today? Britain is the world’s fifth large economy and has a history of being a great merchant power, but having a high GDP and a history best viewed through rose tinted glasses is not the same as being a great country. Whatever Brexiteers believe.
A few facts about the British economy: real incomes are falling for most people, which means almost everyone is getting poorer despite working more hours than our European neighbours. The average British worker earns 10.4% less now than they did I in 2017. Real income is down because wages are stagnant. Britain has had the biggest fall in wages of any advanced country apart from Greece. In short, those dynamic workers need a pay rise.
The country as a whole is getting richer, GDP has grown by just under 2% in 2016, but ordinary people aren't benefiting. The economy gets larger, but the real income of the people doing the work is going down. I wonder where this extra wealth is going?
Take a look at the Paradise Papers, which show that the wealthy are avoiding taxes on an industrial scale. Economic growth is benefiting the rich and they are getting out of paying taxes through some very creative accounting. In Brexit Britain, the rich are getting richer while low wage growth and high costs of living are eating away at the income of everyone else. Does this sound like a great country?
On top of all this, Brexit is a real problem. If mishandled - and by mishandled, I mean conducted in the manner that reflects an idea that is poorly convinced, fuelled by nostalgia for a time when Britain could point at the property of non-white people and claim it’s theirs and is currently being excited by a group of people who think that the best way to solve a problem is to thump their chest and bellow about how amazing Britain is - it could cause huge damage to our economy. To say that Brexit is being mishandled is an understatement akin to saying that Donald Trump could do with spending less time on Twitter.
Britain needs a deal with the European Union to avoid an economic shock that could trip the country that is already poised on the edge of recession back into it. Brexiteers don't want to take what the EU is offering, so they might do the only thing stupider than leaving the EU: leaving the EU without a trade deal. Brexiteers would rather do this than admit that belief in Britain is insufficient to tackle this problem.
It is mainly because their belief in Britain is so strong they think that we can walk away with no deal and it not be suicide. Their belief in Britain doesn't extend to gambling with their own money, as evidenced by arch-Brexiteer John Redwood advising investors to take their money out of the UK. Ordinary people will have to suffer the consequences of Brexit. The rich are advised to avoid it where possible. No mention is made of talking Britain down.
Redwood knows this is all crap and it’ll get worse, a lot worse, and people are likely to lose a lot of money. Of course he doesn’t mind if those people are his constituents, but he does mind if it’s wealthy people. Everyone is supposed to believe in Britain, but rich people taking their money out of Britain is not talking Britain down. If you talk to Redwood then a few Remoaners complaining about how badly is being handled over pulled pork and craft beer in a pop-up pub is more of threat to the British economy than wealthy people taking their money elsewhere because we’ve fucked over our financial stability to appease a few old people who don’t like hearing Polish being spoken on the bus.
We are approaching an “the Emperor has no clothes” moment for belief in Britain. The economy is not strong and ordinary people's material circumstances are getting worse. We can’t eat the concept of freedom from EU red tape. We can’t live in the idea of sovereignty or control of our immigration.
Brexit is a shambles that will be visited on the ordinary people not the Brexiteers who pushed for it and then pushed for no deal because they believe in Britain so much. Brexiteers can't stand anything that threatens their idea of Britain being amazing - even if it’s an idea that’s good for our economy, or, you know, sane - and because of this they're going to wreck this country. Of course they won't go so far as to gamble with the money of wealthy people, but the rest of can live on confidence in Britain.
One Brexit outcome for the rich and another for everyone else, clearly isn't fair for the majority of people. If you point this out, or the fact that Brexit could be managed better by a group of five-year-olds, then you are talking Britain down. Well this situation can’t last much longer. Religious belief in Britain is about to collide with reality.