Monday, 7 August 2017

Coming back to bite them

One of the problems with simplistic political slogans is that turning them into reality never quite matches the image that those targeted by the slogans took them to mean in the first place.  One obvious example, in relation to Brexit, was “control of our borders”.  It is increasingly obvious that what many of those demanding this outcome meant was control of other people coming into the UK; they certainly didn’t intend it to be reciprocal.  Hence the outrage being increasingly expressed by the tabloids about delays to holidaymakers entering other countries.

People who have, for years, demanded a tightening of border controls are now complaining bitterly about the delays which result from more stringent checks of passports and other entry documents.  But what does "controlling the borders” mean if not paying more attention to who is entering a country and whether they are who they claim to be?  It could be, of course, that what they really intended was for more people to be employed to man the borders.  Perhaps it was all a giant job creation scheme for the border agency.  That might be a bit more credible if the same tabloids hadn’t also spent years complaining about the ‘bloated public sector’.

Personally, I suspect that it is related to the long-standing tradition of British exceptionalism.  It’s not ‘freedom of movement’ that they want to stop, it’s other people’s - foreigners’ – freedom of movement.  The traditional blue British passport which they think they’re going to be getting back always asserted, as I recall, the demand of ‘Her Britannic Majesty’ that the holder should be allowed through without let or hindrance.  For some strange reason, however, those strange foreigners don’t see things in the same way – they actually have the nerve to think that UK subjects should be treated the same way as everyone else.  Inevitably, this clear and logical outcome of Brexit will be portrayed as yet another example of Brussels punishing the UK.  Of course.

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