So dainty and fragile are their egos that they cannot bear the sight of a blue starry flag or the words “European Union” on an identity document. They want to seal themselves into
a “safe space”, where those whose opinions and traditions don’t mirror their own are banned.
They are triggered by the colour of their passports and insist that their self-styled identity as ‘British’ be respected by all whom they encounter.
They make heartfelt pleas, proclaiming that they want their country back, and they surround themselves with those who agree with them.
They are wrapped up in protective, protectionist cotton wool dyed the colours of the Union Jack (wool from Commonwealth sheep, one expects).
It seems the days are gone when you could say you were in favour of freedom of movement without offending someone. Any mention of the single market is likely to get
you shut down with some fluff about Brexit indeed meaning Brexit. Proposing to let the public have a say on the customs union could get you labelled a ‘Remoaner’.
Whatever happened to free speech and debate?
Here’s what happened: snowflake sensibilities stem from a culture where people are told they can ‘have it all’. Many of those spouting pro-Brexit messages matured in the echo chambers of old boys’ clubs. Narcissism develops when virtues are extolled and negatives never questioned.
Some unelected politicians living it up in Brussels – such as former Ukip leader Nigel Farage – have had their every effort praised by their lackeys. Michael Gove manages to gloss over the abuses of Empire in saying that it “exported” democracy worldwide.
Is it any wonder that some yearn to bring back a time when Britain was seemingly free from the rule of alleged ‘European overlords’?
It is often said that overpraise of a child’s achievements plus a lack of reality checks equal fantastical expectations. This explains the childlike reasoning of many Leave supporters. Cocooned from responsibility, when things go awry, they immediately assign blame on others. This is why issues with the NHS are all the EU’s fault, despite the fact that France, Germany and the Netherlands all have wellfunctioning universal healthcare systems.
But surely the real world is a place where we have to learn to make compromises, to be challenged.
We have to acknowledge that every state is, in its own way, problematic. How solid can an identity be if it can’t handle criticism? These Leave voters need to get used to the fact that they have to engage with people with views that may be different to their own. These people may not even – wait for it – speak the same language as them. As the saying goes, no man is an island.
Great Britain may be an island, but the United Kingdom is not – it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland, and its dependency, Gibraltar, shares one with Spain. Right-moaners may shake their fists at the mention of ‘foreigners’, such as Turkish barbers and Polish interpreters, stealing traditional British jobs. They may require trigger warnings before having to set eyes on photos of French or German diplomats who have a hand in shaping policies that affect Britain. They may wriggle around the facts by mentally no-platforming forecasts of Brexit-related economic woe. But sooner or later, it becomes necessary to grow up and break out of the nationalist bubble. It’s important to learn to play, if not nicely, then at least respectfully with others.
Here’s an example of silly sensitivity that almost warrants a content notice: some Conservative MPs recently said that if the UK left the EU, on the day of leaving, the bell of Big Ben should chime in celebration. Naturally, I’m all for letting people love their country in whatever way they like at home and in privacy, but do they have to shove it in everyone’s face in public? What lesson might children take from such overt displays of patriotism? Indeed, if such sentiments continue, we face a whole generation growing up thinking that British imperialism is or was somehow natural.
It is time for such discourse to be put firmly aside: it is damaging not only for us, but for