Brexit’s Ninth Circle of Treachery

The continuance of any nation depends on whether its people are loyal and, if necessary, sufficiently motivated to fight for it. In Australia, after British settlement and before Federation, most settlers felt a primary loyalty to Britain, on whose protection they relied for their security, with a secondary loyalty to each settler’s particular colony.

Following the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, loyalty generally moved from the former colonies, now states, to the new nation of Australia. Initially, there was no decline in loyalty to Britain, as Australia’s involvement in the First World War demonstrated.  The Prime Minister in 1914, Andrew Fisher, told a cheering crowd that Australia would stand with Britain and “defend her to our last man and our last shilling.” Both trade and security considerations were in accord with this loyalty.  Australia’s trade was overwhelming with Britain, and until the early years of the twentieth century a Royal Navy squadron was based in Sydney Harbour, with its Admiral residing in Admiralty House, today the Sydney residence of the Governor General.  The Royal Navy gave Australians of the day a feeling of comfortable security.

Australia continued to remain loyal to Britain even as the Empire evolved into the Commonwealth, in part because, unlike the Americans post the Revolutionary War, many if not most still considered themselves British, with Australian passports incorporating the words ‘British Passport’ until 1967.  Concessional import tariffs for British goods known as Imperial Preference were not finally eliminated until 1980, well after Britain’s accession to the European Economic Community. Today most Australians no longer regard themselves as British, a process accelerated by the waves of non-British immigrants who have no emotional attachment to a country those who welcomed them once called ‘Home’. Britain is no longer significant to Australia in terms of either trade or defence, and most Australians’ primary loyalty is now to the Australian nation alone, with subsidiary loyalties to the states or localities in which people live, plus the ethnic, religious and social groupings to which they belong.  There is also a feeling of loyalty towards the United States that is reflected in the ANZUS Treaty on which Australia depends for its security.

As for Britain itself, it is now largely divided between those whose primary loyalty is to the United Kingdom and those who have, or who appear to be in the process of transferring, their primary loyalty to the European Union. Of course, the latter hotly deny that they are any less loyal to the UK than anyone else.  But we should note, for example, the position taken by the Liberal Democrats, currently supported by close to 20 per cent of the electorate.  On September 14, 2019, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s coordinator of Brexit negotiations, was welcomed ecstatically to the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference in Bournemouth.  All participants on the stage were wearing Stop Brexit/Bollocks to Brexit orange T-shirts, one of which was presented to an appreciative Verhofstadt (pictured above).  In his speech the former Belgium PM proclaimed a new world order based not on nation states but on empires (the United States being an empire, in his opinion) and stated that within a world of empires, Britain would only be able to defend its interests through the European Union.

For a Belgian to proclaim an imperial vision and a disdain for the nation state is perhaps not surprising.  Belgium itself is an artificial creation, established in 1830 in an area once known as the “Battlefield of Europe” and inhabited principally by two  language groups in perpetual political conflict – Dutch-speaking Flemish in the north and Francophone Walloons in the south – and a nation with an imperial record in Africa that was less than glorious, to put it mildly

The creation of a new European empire to compete with other major powers necessarily involves a centralisation of control, including control of defence and foreign policy.  Leaders in both France and Germany have proclaimed the need for a European army, which follows logically from the creation of a European empire.  The President of the EU (and former Prime Minister of Luxembourg) Jean-Claude Juncker, whose term expires at the end of October, called for an EU army back in 2015.   His successor, Germany’s former defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, has stated that with developments in the last few years, a European army is already taking shape.

Currently, a majority of members of the British Parliament are using every manoeuvre available to prevent Brexit, all the while proclaiming the sovereignty of parliament.  But considered in isolation, the concept of parliamentary sovereignty has no more validity than the old concept of the Divine right of kings.  Western civilisation is built on the sovereignty of the individual, and in the United Kingdom it is individual electors who, through their votes, lend their sovereignty to MPs to exercise it on their behalf.  In a democracy, sovereignty is lost if it is transferred to someone who is not elected. The sovereignty of parliament amounts to nothing if the United Kingdom is itself not sovereign. Should the efforts of Remainers succeed, this will ensure the permanent transfer of sovereignty to Brussels, with parliament being reduced to a mere regional assembly. A nation that once ruled a quarter of the globe would no longer be able to rule itself.

Parliament is the body which normally exercises sovereignty on behalf of the people.  However, by calling a referendum on continuing membership of the European Union, parliament gave this particular decision directly to the people and promised to implement whatever they decided.

A majority of MPs has now reneged on this promise and, by refusing an election, revoked their own legitimacy as representatives of the people. They clearly no longer believe the people are worthy of their loyalty.  The golden thread of British democracy has been broken.

In a democratic nation, it is loyalty to the system that leads people to accept a government even though they may profoundly disagree with it.  The concepts of ‘loyal opposition’ and ‘losers’ consent’ depend on patriotism and a belief that everybody’s point of view is entitled to be heard and allowed to gain majority support.

Loyalty requires reciprocity.  It is unfortunately clear that, like their political brethren, many members of the British establishment feel no sympathy with or loyalty towards many if not most of their fellow countrymen.  This lack of feeling was noted by David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. At a dinner some years ago at Nuffield College, Oxford, he found himself sitting between Lord O’Donnell, then head of the civil service and Mark Thompson, then director-general of the BBC. He was surprised when both agreed with the proposition that migration to Britain should be maximised and that global welfare took precedence over national welfare.  It is little wonder that despite community concerns, immigration has continued unabated, notwithstanding numerous promises by politicians to slow it down.  It must be a comfort to British fishermen whose livelihood the EU has destroyed to learn that their sacrifice was for a greater good.

The epic fourteenth century poem, Dante’s Inferno, records the poet’s journey through the nine circles of Hell, guided by the poet Virgil who has been sent to ensure that no harm comes to him. The first circle is Limbo, for those who never knew Christ.  Dante journeys circle by circle deeper and deeper into Hell.  He passes through circles established for those condemned for specific sins, in sequence: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence and Fraud.  Finally he reaches the ninth circle, the deepest circle, where Satan himself resides, the Circle of Treachery.  This circle is divided into four rounds, the second of which is named Antenora, after Antenor of Troy, who betrayed the Trojans, and is reserved for political and national traitors.  Finally reaching the very centre of Hell, Dante meets Satan himself, who is described as a three-headed beast, each head eating a specific traitor – the left mouth Brutus, the right mouth Cassius, both betrayers of Julius Caesar, and the middle mouth Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ.

A modern Dante would no doubt find some different characters to fill the roles described.

18 thoughts on “Brexit’s Ninth Circle of Treachery

  • Peter Smith says:

    A lovely piece Antony. Enjoyed it immensely.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “There is also a feeling of loyalty towards the United States that is reflected in the ANZUS Treaty on which Australia depends for its security.”
    Perhaps this sentence needs revision after Trump’s latest spray, dummy-spit, tantrum; call it what you will.

  • PT says:

    What’s your “point” Mr MacDougall? That it’s Trump’s fault that Turkey was let into to NATO?

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Mr Pee Tee:
    All I can suggest is that you read it again: and click on the links.

  • Rob Brighton says:

    I have read way to many articles on Trump to put any store in mainstream media reporting, those smell as bad as the others.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Rob: Ah yes. But have you read them?

  • PT says:

    Would you prefer it if I referred to you as “Ian”? I’m sure Trump’s advisors are fully aware of the stockpile in Turkey. It’s part of the NATO defence! I’m also sure they have plans to deal with the issue. They are NOT going to announce them to the press though. The obvious one is to render the weapons inoperative. So this is probably more of a media beat up. Erdogan wouldn’t be seeking to develop his on nuclear weapons if he though he could get his hands on those weapons to use as he chose.

    The first article is from an anti-Trump journo writing from one of the most left wing US newspapers, which Trump has made no secret he despises, and the feeling is mutual. Italy, Germany and Spain certainly are NOT spending the levels on defence NATO requires them to do, and relies on the US to make up the difference. Nor is it a new complaint. We don’t fund our armed forces adequately either. The rest isn’t even obliquely related to us, being mostly US domestic issues. I doubt the US cares whether we hold citizenship ceremonies on the 26th January either.

    But it’s pretty odd you suggest an alliance is largely dependent upon the personality of the temporary holder of the government head in a democratic state. Obama (whom you probably liked) pulled much more out of Iraq than Trump did in Syria, which led to ISIS, and his tinkering in middle eastern politics led to the civil wars in Libya and Syria, trouble in Egypt, and he kept talking about his personal relationship with his strategic partner, Erdogan!

    You really do like to go off half cocked don’t you. Like that moan about iron ore (and you’re clear hatred of mining); you didn’t realise that the WA Government owns WA’s iron ore resources – which is why the miners pay the State 7.5% of their sales revenue.

  • ianl says:

    Although the less-than-mediocre trollster wishes to hijack the thread, the actual topic of the essay is Brexit. My view is that the UK Supreme Court (as legislated by Tony Blair in 2005 and operative from 2009) will not let go. It has shown it has no regard at all for some “populist” vote or other (such as an upstart referendum) and will set aside any Executive action in the Brexit area that it (the Court) doesn’t like. Re-stacking it will take several generations, so no hope.
    If some deal is passed through the UK Parliament in the next 48 hours or so but leaves the UK (including NI) inside the EU Customs Union and still subject to the EU Courts, then I expect the issue to continue festering. A general election after that may relieve this to some degree but there is no requirement for an election short of the full prescribed period.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    PT and ianl: I have apparently been banned from this site. Good night and good luck.

  • en passant says:

    To my surprise, the MacBot trollster got through a whole series of irrelevant thought-bubbles without turning Brexit into an issue of climate cultism or rising seas. I doubt he has been banned, but perhaps ‘rationed’ to six dumb-as-soap comments per article.
    As for Brexit, I predicted our ‘betters’would use every dirty trick to remain enslaved. My prediction is that prole anger will sweep them all away at the next general election due in 2020. However, they don’t care, because if they can prevent Brexit now their sacrifice will have condemned Britain to remain forever as they will never be allowed a second referendum.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Ah, I see we have yet another offering from Eyn Pyssant from of his collection of pet snyde comments, gryzzles, whynges, and snypes. Pythetic. Truly pythetic.
    Or should that be ‘pythetyc’?

  • Rob Brighton says:

    Ian MacDougall.

    Why read any more of them only to find a week later it was all part of a fevered dream from the delusional tards calling themselves journalists?

  • en passant says:

    The MacBots second last comment on this thread: “I have apparently been banned from this site. Good night and good luck”.
    Unfortunately, it was not true (but when has he ever said anything that was true or relevant?) At least by never evaaaa being right, he’s consistent. Truly sad that we are the only friends he has.

  • whitelaughter says:

    “a nation with an imperial record in Africa that was less than glorious”

    Master of the understatement! It is appalling that Belgium has never been called to account for the genocide in The Congo. I can’t help wondering how much of what the Germans did to Belgium in WWI was inspired by the images of Belgian atrocities – given that 2 Africans were murdered for every Belgian then alive, it has to be one of the most effective per capita massacres in history.

  • Antony Carr says:

    On rereading my article, I found an obvious error in the penultimate paragraph – Antenor of Troy didn’t betray the Greeks, he betrayed fellow Trojans. Since Roger Franklin won’t correct my error, I’m correcting it here.

    • Roger Franklin says:

      My apologies, Anthony. I kept meaning to make the correction but, with one thing and another (mostly slackness on my part), it kept shuffling out of mind. The fix has been made and Antenor of Troy is now betraying the correct party.

  • Antony Carr says:

    Thanks Roger – it’s always most annoying to find a silly mistake one has made as one’s opponents will try to use it to discredit an entire argument. Thanks for fixing it.

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