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16th October 2018

‘Jam Jar’ republics and EU conspiracies: colonial hangovers in Brexit

George Walker argues that the Conservative party have adopted an imperialistic and culturally ignorant attitude towards Brexit, putting the future of Britain at risk.
‘Jam Jar’ republics and EU conspiracies: colonial hangovers in Brexit
Tory Brexit. Photo: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 @ Flickr

You’d be forgiven for mindlessly glazing over any and all news coverage of the moral sinkhole that is the Brexit process. However, it is imperative to read deeply into the conducting of this matter in which the Conservative party seem resigned to the most damning of historical verdicts.

As cliché a thought as this is, Brexit is a truly fundamental and defining moment for the political and economic legacy of Britain. Its importance is immovable, yet the Conservatives seem hell bent on sending this country down the gutter of divisive populism and economic recklessness. 

I point to the actions from the recent Conservative conference of Jeremy Hunt and Jacob Rees-Mogg — two men who exemplify the gross failure of the Conservative party to put this country and its people first. The Foreign Secretary’s comments pandered to rightist conspiratorial thought, comparing the European Union to that of the murderous despotism of the Soviet Union, whereas Hunt claimed the Union was similar to Soviet Union prisons in not allowing member states to leave. 

The same upsetting ignorance was also evident in the comments of Jacob Rees-Mogg this week, a kind of macabre caricature of Edwardian political nobility. At the Conservative party conference Rees-Mogg referred to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya — what Libya was called under Gaddafi — as “the people’s republic of jam jar or something.” The symbolism of this rhetoric points to an obviously repugnant arrogance towards the wider world in general. In the context of Brexit his arrogance will result in a duality of national economic recklessness and cultural ignorance.

The nationalism in the discussion around Brexit is part and parcel of a culturally and economically ignorant Conservative party. This is especially significant given the ideological ties some Brexiteers have been making across the Atlantic. I refer to Rees-Mogg and Johnson’s collusion with the infamous Steve Bannon over a campaign for the success of ‘conservative’ political causes in Europe.

As Editor of the far-right publication Breitbart, Bannon has long whipped up hyperbole against the most vulnerable members of society. This is an outlet that has produced morally odious headlines, talking about “rapist” migrants in Sweden and the “islamification” of British towns and cities. Remember this is a man who Rees-Mogg has on record referred to as his “friend.” In the context of Rees-Mogg’s lazy comments about Libya, and his pursuit of an agenda of economic nationalism in the negotiations with Europe, it is easy to see the spectre of hard right politics infiltrating the Brexit proceedings.

There is evidently ample subject material and evidence to interpret the Conservative approach as one of antiquated and farcical British supremacy, with the above examples only coming from the last week. I have not even mentioned the government’s support for Hungarian neo-fascist Viktor Orban’s government or the failure to crack down on the Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey’s comments on the “cesspool” caused by migrants. 

Whilst the potential is always there for Theresa May to come down hard on backbenchers like Rees-Mogg and Johnson, and their economic lies and populism, she never does. This is because an imperialistic fantasy of grandiose British sovereignty, in comparison to Europe and the rest of the world, continues to lazily inform the Conservatives on Brexit. They need to sober up to the potential economic and social crises that this path of action could lead us down. 

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