Brexit is a collective English mental breakdown

English people living on dreams of empire never learned to see others as equals

Not until there is a separate English parliament . . . will the delusions that led the country to Brexit finally be dissipated by contact with reality. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Not until there is a separate English parliament . . . will the delusions that led the country to Brexit finally be dissipated by contact with reality. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

In the White Paper of February 2nd, 2017, introducing the procedures for leaving the European Union, the UK government made an astonishingly frank admission: “Whilst Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.” In other words, the Leave campaigners’ principal claim, that it was necessary to “take back control” of UK laws, was false, since control had never been lost; and the campaign was based, not on fact, but on what it “felt like” – on illusion, therefore, and emotion.

Why did it ‘feel like that’? Where did the illusions of Leave voters come from? The question Brexit really raises is one not of economics or politics, but of national psychology. And it is not ‘British’ psychology that is at issue, but English. Scotland voted 62 per cent in support of Remain as did 56 per cent of Northern Ireland (and in the Republic support for European Union membership is currently estimated at more than 80 per cent).

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