Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Au revoir, little England

Many problems have been made worse by this Brexit vote. Far right extremism? More extreme. A divided Europe? More divided. Uncertainty about the economy? More uncertain. Lack of confidence in government? Even more lacking.

(Source: TASR/AP)

Now the bill comes due Mr. Cameron.

Amid the frequent criticisms that the EU misuses time and money, it would be hard to dream up a bigger waste than the past few months — or the years to come.

First, Mr. Cameron, you spent years (yes, years) traveling the continent convincing people why the British are special. Then, there were all those meetings bartering about the terms under which the UK might stay. In more recent weeks, tens of millions of pounds were spent by both sides campaigning. After that, much of Europe spent all its time — and what was left of its pride — begging the British to vote to stay in.

Now, we are about to spend years again renegotiating every individual element of the UK’s relationship with the EU. More likely than not, there will be a general election soon too. Then there will be a referendum that sees Scotland leave the UK, maybe one for Northern Ireland. The opposition Labour party will almost certainly need a new leader as a full 20 percent of their own voters didn’t even know the party's position on Brexit.

No doubt some of the 2 million Brits who live in the EU will need to return home in the coming years — many of which will come without work and need to start out by collecting unemployment benefits from the state. Some EU citizens living in Britain will do the same. Then there will surely be referenda in other EU members in the coming years — though it is hard to imagine another country irrational enough to leave.

A whole bunch of this mess is about to fall into the lap of the Slovak EU presidency, which now looks hijacked even before it begins. The job of explaining to and convincing people of the importance of a digital single market, or the need for an energy union — no easy task to start — did not just get any easier. Years of preparation meant to make these next six months meaningful and productive are out the window.

It would be great to chalk this all up to a silly misunderstanding, but there already have been real world consequences. All those actual problems that were there before this began? They are still there. Greece? Still saddled with insurmountable debt. Russia? Still in Ukraine. That migrant crisis? Not over.

I wonder if those 400 people who drowned when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean in April, while we all spent time speculating what would happen if the UK left the EU, might have preferred a few more conversations about EU plans for rescuing people at sea.

While those serious — and solvable — problems are going unsolved, still others have been made worse by this Brexit vote Mr. Cameron. Far right extremism? More extreme. A divided Europe? More divided. Uncertainty about the economy? More uncertain. Lack of confidence in government? Even more lacking.

And in the end, what was it all for? Yes, Mr. Cameron you won the last election and maintained your leadership in the Tory party. Now you are out as prime minister and your country is now a more splintered, confused, less confident and grotesque looking place than it was before.

When people abroad picture your country Mr. Cameron they think of hooligans on the rampage in Marseille, that disgusting Leave campaign poster put out by UKIP that resembled something from the Third Reich and fanatics murdering MPs in the street. It’s no wonder you took up politics Mr. Cameron, because clearly you were destined to fail at your earlier vocation — public relations. Now you have failed as a political leader too.

Adieu, Auf Wiedersehen, Ciao, Dovidenia, Cheerio. 

Top stories

My five-year-old daughter will almost certainly encounter a Weinstein too

It’s not that I thought sexually harassing women was okay, it’s more that I accepted that was just part of how things worked. Unfortunate, yes, but also standard.

Harvey Weinstein

Socialism elections were parody of free vote

After the revolution in 1989 the number of people participating in elections fell from 99 percent to around 60 percent.

Elections during socialism regime.

Foreigners: Top 10 events in Bratislava Video

Tips for the top 10 events in the capital between November 17 and November 26, plus regular services in different languages, training, temporary exhibitions and highlights of the year.

Lúčnica

Top 3 stories from Last Week in Slovakia Video

Chinese could produce e-cars in Slovakia - PM Robert Fico does not see election defeat - Poliačik leaves the strongest opposition party

PM Robert Fico