by Martin Odoni

Brexiteers really are fanatics. This is hardly a new observation, but it has to be said.

I do not mean fanatics in the sense of the fond, “they-really-make-the-atmosphere” fanaticism of football supporters on their better days. What I mean is, Brexiteers really are blind to anything except the singular cause into which they sink their individuality. They are almost madly passionate for British exit from the European Union, and so fixated upon it are they that they seldom notice anything else happening in the world that does not directly impact upon it. They are equally blinded to all elements of nuance or ambiguity, which means that the inevitable problems of circumstance never really register with them either. So they just assume that once Brexit has been voted for, that means it will happen, and should be delivered instantly.

Because they are blind to all the very real – possibly irreconcilabledifficulties involved in delivering a complicated constitutional process like Brexit, when the process inevitably hits the occasional buffer, the resulting delay is incomprehensible to them. And due to their Hollywood-movie fantasies that they are an oppressed, downtrodden people rising up to throw off the shackles of an evil,¬† all-conquering Empire (an evil, all-conquering Empire that apparently allows its ‘colonies’ to leave its control if enough of their oppressed, downtrodden inhabitants vote to do so, that is….), they quickly start dreaming up sinister, underhanded reasons for the delay.

TRAITORS!” they thunder. “The politicians who aren’t giving us everything we want at once are obviously in the pocket of the EU! They’re trying to stop Brexit! They’re selling out our country! They’re colluding with foreigners!!! They’re TRAITOOOOOOORRRRSSSS!!!!


Am I the only one, when witnessing this behaviour, who is reminded of a rather loud and power-crazed robotic cartoon character from the 1980’s? Not sure which one I mean? Here’s a clue; –

Megatron Starscream TRAITOR!!!

If Brexiteers really believe they are the ‘good guys’ in the current chaos, why are they the ones who always sound like Megatron berating Starscream?

Yes. Brexiteers sound like Megatron, Supreme Leader of the Decepticons (a rather idiotic name to bestow upon an army, as it basically declares in advance that no one can trust them).

Yes… Megatron. As in, the arch-villain and ultra-militaristic would-be “conqueror of the entire Universe” ((c), TM & (R), Really Corny Bad-Guy Dialogue Productions). Brexiteers sound like Megatron from The Transformers.

Let us say that again; Brexiteers sound like an unelected military ruler, who stands for violent, aggressive conquest, cynical and rapacious theft of resources belonging to other peoples, and is tortured by his own insatiable lust for pure power entirely for its own sake. And Brexiteers sound like this while imagining they are the good guys, and that they stand for ‘democracy’.

The key feature of the “You traitor!” antagonism between Megatron and his back-stabbing lieutenant, Starscream, boiled down to Megatron’s fury at anyone behaving towards him as destructively as Megatron behaved towards almost everybody else. That too, for reasons outlined below, is echoed in Brexiteer behaviour today.

An amusing resemblance, but with a very dark edge

In itself, this resemblance is just one more amusing example of how self-unaware and naive a lot of Brexiteers are, scarcely worth more than a passing mention. However, there is a weakness in their argument, stemming from that aforementioned tunnel-vision that so many Brexiteers seem to suffer from. After all, who are Brexiteers to lecture anyone about treachery?

The current hero of the pro-Leave crowd is apparently Boris Johnson, who as the new Prime Minister has promised them that we will leave the EU on 31st October come-what-may, which appears to be the only line a legislator needs to seduce a Brexiteer and bring him/her to the heights of ecstasy. And as is now well-recorded, Johnson chose to support Brexit, in effect out of what could be called treachery. He famously hedged his bets during the Referendum campaign, actually writing two articles, one in support of Brexit, the other opposed to it, before deciding which way the wind would blow most in his own favour, whereupon he submitted only the pro-Leave version for publication. Seeing he clearly knew the dangers and drawbacks of leaving the EU, and the scant advantages to be had from doing so, he has very firmly ‘sold out’ the country for his own political convenience. That is treachery, in the sense Brexiteers use. As is his prorogation of Parliament after previously indicating that he would not do it.

Boris on Prorogation

Boris Johnson carries out a Prorogation he is “not attracted to”.

But moreover, Brexiteers are, initially unknowingly, assisting in a bigger and even more dangerous betrayal, and that is the betrayal of Ireland. I hardy need state all over again the terrible threat to the Northern Irish peace process that Brexit poses, as I have gone into it in some detail before. Quite simply, any resumed enforcement of the old Irish border is bound to imperil the Good Friday Agreement. The GFA was agreed by Nationalist/Republican communities in good faith, following the strict understanding that the British and Irish Governments would always respect the individual right of people within Northern Ireland to choose their own national status, be it British, Irish or Northern Irish, as the individual saw it. Nationalists who see Dublin, not London, as their national capitol, will undoubtedly feel betrayed – and rightly so – if a border is suddenly resurrected between it and them.

This point is frequently being made to Brexiteers, but most of them show scant willingness to listen, or if pressed, offer nonsense solutions to it. They just do not care, they just want to have their own way, and start throwing toys out of the pram when they are denied, even temporarily. Many insist they want a No Deal Brexit, even after the reasons it would be a treaty violation, and illegal under International Law, are made clear to them. So an agreement of two decades’ standing is being disregarded, sneered at, and ultimately violated. What is that, if not treachery?

Brexiteers act like Tudor monarchs too

England/Britain has abused and tormented Ireland for over eight hundred years, since the Angevin King¬† of England, Henry II, invaded in support of Dermot McMurragh, King of Leinster, in the Twelfth Century. It is long, long, long past time that this abusive, disregarding, colonising attitude towards Ireland was brought to an end, and that the Irish nation was treated as a partner and an equal. Brexit, alas, is demonstrating that there is still some way to go, and possibly even that the process of reconciliation across the Irish Sea is going backwards. That in itself is another hypocrisy; Brexiteers, while decrying the EU as an ‘oppressor’, are perfectly happy to oppress the Irish again in order to escape an imagined tyranny, like a prisoner who thinks he is about to be thrown to the lions, and tries to get another prisoner thrown in in his place. Which is treacherous.

Farage - collaboration whine

Talking to overseas Governments about a scheduling change is “collaboration with a foreign power”, but all Farage’s iffy links with Trump and Putin are not?

Cries of “Traitor!” are cartoonish and hypocritical. They are also blatantly obsolete. As much as they sound like a Decepticon leader, Brexiteers also sound like Tudor monarchs condemning their courtiers for daring to differ from the Royal opinion. Henry VIII’s courtiers lived in perpetual dread of being called a traitor, as the rebuke usually preceded the axe. His daughter, Elizabeth I, one of the most over-rated and tyrannical monarchs in European history (during her reign, she had twice as many subjects executed as her infamous father), was notorious for calling any courtier who displeased her a traitor. Even her favourite, Lord Robert Dudley, got this rebuke with painful frequency. In the end, all it really meant was that a subject deviated from a supposedly ‘divine’ authority. Referendum results may have more of a mandate than Royal commands, but do Brexiteers really think that makes them ‘divine’?

An obsolete concept

The concept behind the word Traitor when used on a national level is that blind loyalty to a country is more important than loyalty to the truth, or to just and intelligent policy. Given Britain’s horrid history as an Imperial power, allegiance to it most certainly does not guarantee allegiance to justice. Therefore, the jingoism that leads to cries of “Traitor!” is deeply flawed, as the historical evidence simply does not tally with it. It is in fact near-religious in its implication, as it attaches superior ‘moral value’ to faith over objectivity i.e. it concludes that the less evidence there is to support a belief, the more ‘virtuous’ the belief. Ergo, the calculation is that the more you believe in ‘our country’ the better a person you must be, which runs so contrary to the evidence in Britain’s case that it is frankly ridiculous.

Like ‘evil’, the word ‘traitor’ is one of limited value in the modern world, and should only really be used in a very few situations. Now, treachery does happen sometimes, when a confidence is broken for malicious reasons, or a promise is left unkept. But a promise delayed by circumstances is not treachery, nor is choosing loyalty to an entity other than the country of one’s birth, at least so long as it is done openly. There is no intrisic reason for instance why ‘Britain’ should command more loyalty from Britons than ‘Europe’, and there is no reason why being part of either should be at odds with being part of the other. By the same measure, as a Jew, I have sometimes been accused by Zionists of being a ‘traitor’ because I condemn Israel rather than meekly toe the line; because I am a Jew and Israel likes to think of itself as ‘The Jewish State’, Zionists think it means I must owe it unquestioning loyalty, even though I have never sworn allegiance to it. The primitive idea behind the treachery accusation is that more is owed than is really due. Much as I want Israel reformed so it ceases to be an ethnocracy, I do not actually want anything bad to happen to it, especially as I have family there. But at the same time, Zionists think I have to want more than just Israel’s continued existence. They think I have to want its supremacy too, that I should be permanently perched on Israel’s bandwaggon, no matter what its Government does, and that I should never demand Palestinian justice.

Same with Brexit. Brexiteers do not just want the Government to try to deliver it. They want them to deliver it, lock-stock-and-barrel, with a cherry on top, immediately, and with a two-fingered salute to Brussels, even though co-operation from Brussels is essential to getting it delivered at all.

Frustrated hopes do not always mean betrayal

It is frustrating when a policy one wants is delayed, but sometimes it is simply too difficult to implement in a hurry. There are good reasons to condemn the Tories for their attempts to deliver Brexit, but those are more a matter of incompetence and inadequate planning. They are almost never deliberate sabotage. The intent to do what was voted for is genuinely there, they just cannot deliver everything all at once, especially given the very obvious intellectual limitations among their MPs.

Attacking the failure to deliver Brexit with accusations of treachery is barking up entirely the wrong tree, and will do nothing to speed up the withdrawal process. Those who use such accusations should perhaps spend less time watching cartoons.