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A nationalist project without a nation TIME ONLINE

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Fintan O'Toole is a columnist for the Irish Times and author of Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain. His new book "The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism" was published in November 2019.

Read the English version of this interview.

In May 2016, during the campaign for the exit of the
United Kingdom from the European Union, sang Boris Johnson a few
Bars of the European anthem
, Beethoven's ode to Joy – in German. you
might assume that the spokesman for a nationalist revolt against a
Alleged colonial domination would only sing the enemy's hymn to biting
To make fun of it. However, as was made clear in his speech, this was not Johnson's
Intention. Johnson did not want to ridicule the EU or Germany. He
sang the hymn to show that he could. He wanted to understand people
give that he's a cultured European.

This strange performance was about a fearful effort to be yourself
from the so-called Little Englanders (since the post-war period one
Term for English people facing away from the world and towards England
Englishman) among his own followers
distance: "I am a child of Europe. I am a liberal citizen of the world.
My family is the genetic counterpart of a UN peacekeeping force. (…) I can
the ode to Joy in German
to sing. If you continue to accuse me of one Little Englander going to be
I do it too. "And he did it. But not only that, he emphasized that United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum be
far from being the concern of "small-minded xenophobes" – he
is in reality "the great project of European liberalism".

As is known,
Johnson is now Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his
2016 campaign achieved with the official departure of the United Kingdom
from the EU on January 31 a kind of high point. One of the great powers of Europe is solving
from the European project, if not irrevocably so, no doubt
for a very long time. Against this backdrop, Johnson is like now
Understand the claim that this voluntary act was not a retreat
Europe, but somehow a realization of European liberalism? The
Trying to figure out what's going on in Johnson's head is not always a good thing
for your own mental health. In this case, however, it is worthwhile because
the answer sheds light on the big Brexit problem: this is a
nationalist project without a nation.

The rise of nationalism is in fact the most influential current in Europe in the 19th and first half of the 20th century.

Fintan O'Toole

What Johnson probably did
By claiming that Brexit was a great project of European liberalism, it is that modern European identity is based on the
Creation of the nation state as a primary place of political loyalty. And
There is a lot of truth to this idea. The rise of nationalism is in
indeed the most influential current of the 19th and the first half of the 20th
Century in Europe. Johnson sees Brexit as a return to it
fundamental principle of the supremacy of the nation state. This is, however
a great deal of irony: Great Britain is not a nation state and never is
been one. The United Kingdom itself is a mixture of the four
Nations England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And for the most part
In its history as a state, it was not at the heart of a national one
political order, but of a huge multinational and multilingual empire.
There is no pre-EU nation United Kingdom to which one
could return. This is the contradiction that the Brexit project does not admit
let alone dissolve.


Fintan O'Toole
© Suki Dhanda / Observer / eyevine

In the early morning
of December 13, 2019, after the early election, Johnson held his
victory speech
, He had that
simple 13-letter slogan "Get Brexit done" used to
to change Britain’s electoral landscape. Parts of central England and the
Nordens, where people used to think, was the official name of Johnson's
Party was "Tory scum", had grown from a generation-long loyalty to
Labor party positioned to the left of the center and the
Conservatives elected. Johnson had won a parliamentary majority
that would be comfortable enough to – albeit in a very limited sense
– get the Brexit behind. On January 31, 2020, the
UK membership of the European Union officially
end up. Something was coming to an end. It just wasn't clear
what would come out of it.

When Johnson delivered his speech, in those minutes he insisted
Everyday sliding twist as "this glorious, glorious
Pre-breakfast moment, "he couldn't hide his own astonishment.
He had, as he called it, managed to unite the nation: "from Woking to Workington; from Kensington … to Clwyd
South; from Surrey Heath to Sedgefield; from Wimbledon to Wolverhampton ". One
Johnson can never resist accumulation of alliterations, and this list
new and old Tory strongholds was undoubtedly of the needs of his
Favorite style means coined. In his euphoria, however, he seems to have escaped
to be that seven of the eight constituencies mentioned by name are in
England are located. Nobody is in Scotland. It would have a similar unison
he would have achieved "from Dumfries (in Scotland) to Don Valley (in the north
England) "said, or" from Brecon (in Wales) to Bolsover ", a longstanding
Labor constituency in the English Midlands, which the Tories like by a
Had won miracles. But he didn't say it. Johnson instinctively imagines the nation as English.

Great Britain – The Brexit is coming and is really starting
Britain is leaving the European Union – three years of chaos are coming to an end. Our video shows what the step means for the British and the EU.

. (tagsToTranslate) Politics (t) Boris Johnson (t) Brexit (t) Boris Johnson (t) Great Britain (t) Theresa May (t) Liberalism



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