Since the EU referendum, I am often asked if other parties should trade with, visit and study in the UK. My answer? Stay awayby AC Grayling / March 2, 2018 / Leave a comment
Since the European Union referendum of 2016 I have visited the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the UAE, and a dozen of our EU partners.
Across their diverse audiences, one question came up again and again: what attitude should these countries, their politicians, businesspeople and intending students take to the UK in its present post-referendum guise.
Should they sign agreements with the UK? Should they trade, visit, study with us?
It has been a bitter experience finding that, in the interests of truth, I have had to say: stay away. Don’t trust the UK while it is in this condition.
I said this for two reasons. One is that the UK is, compared to most modern European democracies, a politically dysfunctional state, with an unreliable political order.
The problem is not just the government, which is hostage to its own profoundly toxic internal party political problems, but the whole machinery of politics, for the chief opposition party is no better, and the two main parties keep in existence an outdated system of elections and governance in their own party-political interests—a system that is serving the country very ill.
Agreements and treaties with governments formed from this political order—whose tribalism and self-obsession blinds it not only to national interests but to the interests of partners, including the EU—makes the current UK a poor bet as a partner in any arrangement.
The second reason is that the EU referendum has exposed deep-lying problems in society, especially English society, relating to xenophobia, introversion, a prevailing sense of historical unreality, a dangerously distorting popular media, and a poor general level of understanding among Britons of Europe and the world.
Our fellow Europeans who have lived, worked, raised families and paid their taxes in the UK for decades have been shocked to find how fragile is the welcome they thought they had, and how selfishly disregarded their contribution to the UK’s economy, culture, health service and education system has proved to be.
If one is to be rigorously honest about today’s UK, one would not advise anyone to come and live or study here, or trade with us. In short, we should be put into purdah until we have sorted ourselves out.
Consider the EU, and the UK in it. Conduct the following experiment: look at a couple of minutes of YouTube footage…