It has seemed from the outset that many of those arguing for Brexit were harking back to what they see as the ‘good old days’; a time when Britannia ruled the waves, natives elsewhere were suitably deferential, and if all else failed, then a gunboat or two could be deployed.
But it’s hard to think of a better example of that sort of thinking than this story about those who are seeking, in a very literal sense, to get Britannia back on the waves. The call for the UK to either recommission the royal yacht, or else commission a new one, has it all. Symbolism of global Britain and a good dose of nostalgia; these are key elements of the Brexit mindset. The USP for this little proposal is clear – ‘do business with us: we can’t offer you access to the single market, but we can offer you a chance to sign the contract on a very big yacht and maybe even meet one of our royals’. That obviously trumps the mere economics of any deal, doesn’t it?
It will be costly, but not to worry; one of the instigators of the scheme doesn’t want the taxpayer to fund it, oh no. Instead, an appeal will be launched for donations from across the Commonwealth (another throwback to the imperial past) from people who will be only too happy to contribute large sums to provide a new boat for one of the UK’s richest families. Can’t you just feel the genuflection oozing through the population as we all joyously contribute our few penn’orth as well?These people really do dwell in the past, a place which has rightly been called ‘another country’. They can happily spout the utterly meaningless phrase that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ without understanding the rather more meaningful statement that ‘the past is in the past’.