By David Murrin
On Wednesday, March 29th, Britain will once more officially begin to chart its own course as a sovereign nation. 288 Days after the famous Brexit referendum vote, Sir Tim Barrow, the British Representative to the EU, will hand a letter from the Prime Minister, Mrs. May to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. The contents will notify the 27 members of the EU that Britain is commencing its exit process outlined in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The formal declaration of Britain’s intention to leave the EU, will commence a divorce process that will last two years. On the eve of this momentous event, how should the landscape for Britain and its impending negotiations with the EU be viewed?
Sentiment within Britain and its national energy
After an exceptionally charged referendum and its surprise outcome, it is a credit to Britain’s national character that with only a few exceptions like George Osbourne, the majority of the population have accepted the outcome and that divisions have begun to mend. Indeed, against the expectations of the remaining camp, both in the UK and in the EU, Britain has gone through its democratic process and maintained its course to trigger Article 50, enacting the will of the people. This process has at times been torturous for Mrs. May, but it has ultimately reinforced the nation’s respect and understanding for the importance of an independent legal system. Additionally, the importance of the role of the House of Lords in its balancing relationship with the elected body of the House of Commons should not be underestimated.
In effect, Britain’s institutions of government have been tried, tested and reinforced by this outcome. In terms of the sentiment across the nation, the positive sense of self-belief has been a surprise to those that wished to remain. However, they forget that the vote to leave derived from an innate sense of self-belief and national confidence that has now been allowed to be manifested. This underlying sentiment will continue despite any severe economic downturn in the next couple of years and this resilience will serve the nation well and provide the energy to chart an independent path in the years ahead. Indeed, this new found sense of the national identity of Britain can be clearly seen in its measured and defiant response to the repugnant suicide attack on the Houses of Parliament and the innocent people walking over the bridge.
Looking forward in the future, such attacks will only continue the process of polarisation of Britain’s national identity. The enduring image of the medical response teams trying to save the life of the attacker that had caused such mayhem, was the most powerful signal of the core values that Britain stands for as a nation. Indeed, what better response could there be to counter such extremism but a combination of strength, humanity and resilience? As we have discussed before, the national energy of Britain is high (see “Breaking the Code of History”) and we should expect to see this driving force urge Britain forward through some inevitably challenging time, when its European cousins falter.