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Something bizarre is happening to Britain. A kind of fatalism has gripped the nation. Voters seem reconciled to a hard Brexit that many sense will not be good for the economy or the country’s standing in the world but which now seems to them inevitable and unstoppable. They accept with a shrug of the shoulders that mass immigration, rejection of which was the casus belli of last summer’s referendum, will continue much as before, little altered by the decision to quit the EU. And they will vote for the Tories, led by Theresa May – a Margaret Thatcher lacking all conviction – because though they have little affection for the party or its policies, they see its dominance as a fact of life, like the weather.
Two years from now, if Mrs May gets her way, the UK will have left the European Union, bag and baggage. We will not be part of the Single Market we helped create, or the Customs Union. British exporters and the City of London, utterly dependent on foreign capital, will be struggling to cope with the new reality. Trade deals with the rest of the world will be years off; there will be long queues of lorries on either side of the Channel; and the land frontier with Europe will have switched from Calais to Dover.
Germany and France, backed by the rest of the 27, have determined to close the door against us. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have already sealed the deal. It has been decided that we are to be treated in future as what we are, a troublesome offshore island whose interests are not their interests and whose concerns are not their concerns. It didn’t have to be this way. But it’s what we voted for. And now we want to get on with it.
Most of the EU nationals now living in the UK will remain. Others will continue to arrive over the next two years, especially from Romania and Bulgaria. Some will leave, but those who do so will be replaced, and more than replaced, by much-needed new arrivals from Asia and Africa, who can at least be relied on to keep the NHS and other public services afloat until the money finally runs out.
Already, according to official figures, all growth in employment in the UK in the first quarter of this year, came from people born overseas. The number of British-born workers fell by 1,000 to 26.2 million, while the number of non-UK citizens with jobs rose by 388,000, to 5.8 million. Most of the growing number of skilled jobs, from machinists and IT technicians to doctors and scientists, are being taken by immigrants. The serious deficiencies in our state educational system means that most of us aren’t qualified to do the clever stuff and are confined to office drudgery or, quite literally, heavy-lifting – though lots of foreign workers do that as well, working longer hours for less pay.
This trend will continue. There is nothing to stop it – certainly not the Tory Government, which (let us be honest) accepts the annual increase in the number of immigrants to continue at around the 100,000 mark for the foreseeable future.
Those who voted for Brexit on the grounds that immigration would be halted and that lots of those already here would be sent home will be disappointed. But they can’t be bothered to get angry about it anymore. If the opinion polls are to be believed, most of them will vote Tory anyway, apparently persuaded that there is no alternative.
As it happens, they are right. We do desperately need the immigrants among us and will need more of them in the years to come. Only if and when a genuine revolution in education and training has taken place and borne fruit – in ten-to-fifteen years at the earliest – can Britain hope once more to stand on its own two feet. To pretend otherwise is to accept that the NHS can somehow struggle along with insufficient doctors and nurses, that universities and research centres can cope without regular infusions of talent, and that fruit and vegetables in our fields will somehow pick themselves.
Culturally, this matters. By 2030, our national DNA will have reached the stage where a near majority of British residents under the age of 25 will feel no connection with their host nation’s history – the Battle of Hastings, Agincourt, Elizabeth I, the Civil War, the Empire, the industrial revolution, the two world wars – for the simple reason that that it will not be their history, which began with the Windrush in 1947, or in 1972 with the arrival of ethnic Asians from Uganda, or in 2004, with the first mass-immigration of Poles from Eastern Europe.
Doubtless it was the same in England in 1066, when the Saxons, having at last beaten and assimilated the Danes, found their culture overthrown by the Normans. The difference is that previous immigrant waves (the Saxons included) fought their way here, while today’s new wave have been invited in to do the jobs we either cannot or will not do. Who do we blame for that? Not the Tories, it seems. Instead, while [rightly] denigrating Jeremy Corbyn as a Marxist Wurzel Gummidge, we load it all onto Tony Blair.
So when you vote Tory, as most Reaction readers will, on June 8, acknowledge two things. First, that leaving the EU is a reckless gamble that Theresa May looks set to make worse by refusing to compromise on the terms available. Second, that Britain is evolving, by dint of its own carelessness and incompetence, into a mongrel nation that, like America, must look to regular infusions of new blood to sustain its beating heart. Only then will we begin to understand what is happening to us and acquire some sense of the direction in which we are headed.
We aren’t evolving anymore. The historical continuum has been broken. Instead, we are lurching into the future. And we don’t care. Vote Conservative.