David Cameron has resigned but will remain in office until October and the Conservative Party conference. Article 50 covers the hitherto unknown process of a member state leaving the EU. He feels that this task should be left for his successor.
We must not lose the impetus; unless there are compelling reasons to wait I see no need. Although I am relieved that the government are discussing the next action; the referendum was advisory so technically it could have been ignored.
The people of the United Kingdom have no quarrel with our fellow man in the other 27 countries of Europe and I believe it is our duty to assist them to achieve referenda of their own on the subject of their continued membership. We chose the open sea yesterday, but the open sea leads to old friends, kin and allies all over the world. Certain parties in Denmark called for their own referendum this morning.
Eurosceptic parties the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) and the Danish People’s Party (DF) both characterized the referendum results as a major victory for the British people. Enhedslisten said that the referendum results should pave the way for a similar vote in Denmark, and the far-left party called for a Danish referendum within a year. She suggested holding a referendum on Denmark’s Constitution Day on June 5th, 2017
But Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who called the referendum results “very sad […] for Europe and Denmark”, ruled out holding a referendum. “We belong to the EU and I am not operating on [the belief] that we should have a referendum on that basic question,” Rasmussen said at a Friday morning press conference.
This sets up a potential battle with the Danish People’s Party, Rasmussen’s largest support party in parliament. DF has previously said that if Brexit becomes reality, Denmark should hold its own EU referendum after the United Kingdom has formally negotiated a post-exit agreement with the union.
I hear that there are elements in France unhappy with the current regime; also in the Netherlands, even within Germany.
We must also be magnanimous towards the 14 million residents of the UK who voted to remain in the EU. Notwithstanding that many supporters of the Remain campaign used vile language, obscene gestures and smeared us as racists we must behave better, because we are better. But it is a worry that so many people either do not regard British sovereignty as their precious birthright, or are so careless of it that they are willing to sell it for a mess of pottage. Or as I heard one Remain enthusiast give as a reason, cheap mobile phone roaming rights while on holiday.
Something deep and worrying is wrong with our society that needs addressing and it could take more than one generation to put right. The malign influence of Common Purpose goes very deep indeed.
I am not the only person to think of GK Chesterton’s poem The Secret People today. It’s longer than I remembered, but that will not frighten our readers if I reproduce it here in full.
The last two verses are almost as prescient as the essays of George Orwell.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.
The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags and dames.
We liked their smiles and battles, but we never could say their names.
The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French lords went down;
There was naught but a naked people under a naked crown.
And the eyes of the King’s Servants turned terribly every way,
And the gold of the King’s Servants rose higher every day.
They burnt the homes of the shaven men, that had been quaint and kind,
Till there was no bed in a monk’s house, nor food that man could find.
The inns of God where no man paid, that were the wall of the weak.
The King’s Servants ate them all. And still we did not speak.
And the face of the King’s Servants grew greater than the King:
He tricked them, and they trapped him, and stood round him in a ring.
The new grave lords closed round him, that had eaten the abbey’s fruits,
And the men of the new religion, with their bibles in their boots,
We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or discuss,
And some were pure and some were vile; but none took heed of us.
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face was proud and pale;
And a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale.
A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people’s reign:
And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again.
Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought,
And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke;
And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.
Our patch of glory ended; we never heard guns again.
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle; he was foolish, as if in pain,
He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a cringing Jew,
He was stricken; it may be, after all, he was stricken at Waterloo.
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men, whose spoil is in his house,
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last carouse:
We only know the last sad squires rode slowly towards the sea,
And a new people takes the land: and still it is not we.
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.