Fighting the Anglo-British nationalism behind Brexit is not ‘yesterday’s battle’

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Huw Prys Jones

There is “little point in fighting yesterday’s battles” according to Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price in his keynote speech this week.

Taken on face value, such a statement is perfectly logical.  It is plainly obvious that there is nothing that Plaid or anyone else can do to stop Brexit at this stage.

However, it must come with the caveat that standing up to the kind of Anglo-British nationalism on which Brexit is based can never be dismissed as “fighting yesterday’s battle”. Neither is holding the establishment to account for the lies and deceit that were at the heart of the Leave campaign in the discredited 2016 referendum. It is a matter of fundamental natural justice that the truth must continue to be told against the barrage of fake news thrown at us daily.

Let us be in no doubt that the rabid union-jack waving this weekend will be an ominous sign of much more to come.  Resisting this unionist English nationalism must be seen as a key battle for our identity and culture, and as a core objective for the national movement in Wales.

Having based so much of their appeal on English/British ‘patriotism’, the whole credibility of the Brexiteers’ project will depend on the continuation of such sentiments among the general public.

This ‘patriotism’ – which in essence means pride and loyalty towards the state and the establishment – is a direct threat to any furthering of Welsh identity in Wales. There will be little chance of success for the national movement in Wales until and unless a far greater number of Welsh people will feel resentment towards the Anglo-British establishment. And realise that the whole edifice of Brexit Britain will have been built on a pack of lies.

 

Implications

Those of us who believe in greater powers for Wales will need to view with suspicion anything that seems like an attempt to place a positive spin on Brexit.

In fact, the implications of Brexit for the aspirations of the national movement are much greater than what many political leaders are probably willing to admit.

Plaid’s stated aim of independence in the European Union, for example, will be particularly hard hit.

Whilst such an aim would always have been ambitious, with huge obstacles in its way, it could nevertheless be envisaged as a credible prospect within the context of all countries of Britain as member states.

With an English government on course for the hardest of Brexit, an independent Wales as a member of the European Union could well mean a hard border along Offa’s Dyke. Such an objective would be inevitably portrayed as an attempt to sever ties with England in order to join a political union with France and Germany. With Wales being so Anglicised in culture as well as in language, such a prospect would now seem to be in the realms of political fantasy.

Without a pan-European context for an independent Wales, some kind of indy-lite or devo-max would be the maximum that can be achieved. An independent in-name-only Wales in full customs union and sharing a single market with England would not be entirely impossible. It would, however, be under the shadow and domination of an England nearly 20 times its population and wealth.

No time for despondency

The outlook for Wales in a post-Brexit Britain may well look bleak. Now is not the time however for despondency. Nor to hint at any sign of capitulation to the horde of alt-right swine that are responsible for the mess we are in.

The only response can be defiance and determination to build resistance to this English nationalist triumphalism. There is a great deal of mischief that can be done to deflate morale and to denigrate the values of the Brexit establishment.

It was wonderful and inspiring to hear Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week mocking the fact that the UK is now merely a small country. This is the kind of message that we should be repeating whenever there is an opportunity to stress Britain’s insignificance in the wider world. And to openly gloat whenever we see Boris Johnson humiliated by other European leaders.

Let us demolish the Brexiteers’ outdated and extreme interpretation of ‘independence’ and their bizarre obsession with sovereignty. Their belief in the absolute power of the nation-state must be exposed as an alien concept that is totally detrimental to the needs of the increasingly inter-dependent world of the 21st century.  And let loyalty to the Anglo-British establishment be seen as an object of derision, and a lack of understanding of the complex nature of today’s world.

Whether we are inside or outside the European Union, Brexit will continue to represent a much wider cultural divide. We cannot wish it away with some superficial political spin. Yes, of course, we recognise the constitutional reality of leaving the EU. But that does not mean any obligation to compromise on our identity or values in any way.

It is clear that Boris Johnson and the Brexit establishment will use ‘patriotism’ – as always the last refuge of scoundrels – to maximum effect over the coming months. There will also be calls for ‘healing the divide’ – which really means loyalty and unity towards the state and complete capitulation to the Brexit cause.

Let us relish any opportunity we may have to deny them their hopes, wishes and aspirations.

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John Ellisj humphrysAlwyn J EvansHuw DaviesJason Evans Recent comment authors
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Ben
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Ben

No, it’s not about England.

You win Cymraeg and you win the country. You win the language by waging a real estate war to own the land.

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Yes!

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Anglo-Brit nationalism is much BIGGER than Brexit. If Adam or anyone else tries to dismiss it as a passing phenomenon then they are not paying attention to what has happened for centuries and what continues to happen today. The processes and characteristics of supremacist domination may change shape but be assured unless they are confronted and resisted we will be absorbed, assimilated ,our distinct identity erased within a matter of generations.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

‘… standing up to the kind of Anglo-British nationalism on which Brexit is based can never be dismissed as “fighting yesterday’s battle”’. That’s absolutely the case. For good or ill, the question of ‘leaving’ or in some form ‘remaining’ is settled, and it won’t be reopened again in the lifetime of many of us. Last year’s elections – twice over, in May and in December – indicated that the majority if Welsh voters, just like the majority of English voters, still wanted to ‘get Brexit done’ even now that we all know a great deal more about the implications of… Read more »

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

The popular vote in cymru was clearly for EU -leaning parties, but agree with your other point. But would you agree that the eroding of power from England dented pride? Thus the present mess. I’ve called for a Jersey style status for Wales quite often, as it would prevent tensions escalating and keep things friendly, or rather return to a more friendly situation. To what lengths. do you think, will this gov. go to in preserving the status quo? After all, being called England is a whole new ball game when you have been The United Kingdom of………………

Jonathan Edwards
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Jonathan Edwards

You’re right about “Jersey style status”, JR. It is very puzzling why Plaid and others don’t go for this. I think the reason is that they are simply ignorant about how countries actually work. Plaid has had since 1930s to learn this, but hasn’t. Irish parties were properly informed. Many Scots are. Weep for Wales!

John Ellis
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John Ellis

This UK government will go all out for preserving the status quo; they don’t call themselves ‘conservative’ and ‘unionist’ for nothing,

But I think there’/s something to be said, at least provisionally, for your suggestion of ‘a Jersey style status for Wales’. Whether the Westminster government would ever negotiate on that is another matter,

John Ellis
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John Ellis

‘.The popular vote in cymru was clearly for EU -leaning parties ….’ That’s true; but nonetheless my sense is that that’s not how most Welsh voters will see it. In the Euro-elections in May the Brexit party came out on top, and in the general election last month the Tories made significant inroads in Welsh seats. That, right now, is how they’ll look at it. I think all the parties in the Senedd need to focus on trying to exercise the powers that they already have in such a way that Ioan and Sian Average Welsh Voter see that the… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

I often think about what happened on New Years Day in Brecon & Radnor with the new Tory MP participating in the old English pastime of hunting with horses. What ever you feel about the merits of fox-hunting it was the importing of the English identity of its culture in a dominate way as demonstrated on Welsh soil that I found almost as insulting to Wales. The EU parliament have respected the UK demand for independence from EU membership. Why not the same UK respect Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland as separate countries with the right of independence and… Read more »

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Economist in a Finnish Newspaper 31.1.2020. (my trans.)
“What the reaction will be when people, who put their faith in a Brexit future
realise they are out of the ditch and into the pond, is anyone’s guess.”

Alwyn J Evans
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Alwyn J Evans

Who knows how it will unfurl but one thing is certain, the brexiteer alliance will fragment within months. No doubt ‘this is what you voted for’ will become the new mantra. In reality, brexit is the ending of a trade deal but people have invested so much more in it, they will be very disappointed.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

I’ve never given thought to the notion of ‘a Jersey style status for Wales’ – or a Guernsey or Alderney one – until I saw your posts on these threads, but I agree that it’s a novel and interesting idea. The immediate difficulty which strikes me is that the constitutional history of les îles Anglo-Normandes is very different to that of Wales. On the other hand it might just be more sellable to the average Welsh voter than the notion of full independence.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

I’m personally not averse to exploring a ‘Jersey-style’ – or, assuming there may be minor differences, a Guernsey or Alderney style – relationship as a conceivable way forward. The main difficulty that I anticipate, though, is that the Channel Islands have never been part of the UK but are the last vestige of William I’s Duchy of Normandy which, after the bulk of the Duchy ended up as part of the French kingdom opted to maintain the link with England. I’ve no idea as to how and why French kings accepted that decision of petty Channel Island bigwigs in an… Read more »

Sian Caiach
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Anglo British Nationalism? Really? People who self identify as British in the UK were the largest group supporting Remain, Those who self identified as predominantly English were, in England those most likely to vote Leave. It does not mean they are against more devolution or even succession in Wales. English identifiers are much more tolerant of the break up of the UK into its individual nations than British identifiers. As a Nationalist, I would not go out of my way to alienate the English,especially when the “British” are clearly more of a barrier to our Independence. The main barrier to… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

…..”English identifiers are much more tolerant of the break up of the UK into its individual nations than British identifiers. As a Nationalist, I would not go out of my way to alienate the English,especially when the “British” are clearly more of a barrier to our Independence.” …… If only that was true. But be honest about this, the majority of English Nats are profoundly supremacist i.e they see Britain as England’s enlarged domain supported by significant Unionist lackey presence in N.Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The experience over recent decades in Wales is dominated by assorted Anglos ( regardless of… Read more »

Jason Evans
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Jason Evans

Forget Brexit it’s over and done with and whether we like it or not Cymru/Wales voted for it, I know there are stats showing what swung the vote but at the end of the day we also voted out. This is why education is vital, future generation need to know our history and that most definitely beyond our locale, Welsh history along with our language are part of the set of keys, but also whether your blood is in the land or you’ve just made Cymru/Wales your home, whether your political views are to the left or right we have… Read more »

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

GE 2019 Cymru ; parties for EU 57.8%. parties for Brexit 41%

Jason Evans
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Jason Evans

Forgive me but what good did that do. You’re fighting a battle that has unfortunately been lost. Time to concentrate on uniting the people of Cymru/Wales towards independence.
ANNIBYNIAETH I GYMRU (and that’s for all people across the political divide)

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

If people continue repeating “we voted for it”, they will have to put up with Stats.
Other than that, I’m with you all the way!