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Entitlement: the most destructive force in the universe

Well, it's been a day.

I'm not about to go into grindingly tedious hand-wringing about the reasons behind Brexit. Nor am I going to bewail its finally being set in motion. Doesn't seem a lot of point, anyhow I'm a bit too busy battening down the hatches for the shitstorm which will ineivitably ensue. Now is not the time for gnashing of teeth. Particularly because your dentist bills will go up once that nice Polish nurse is told to do one.

But I will reflect, grimly, on one of the aspects of the national character which has led us to this point; and it was illustrated rather beautifully today, for shortly after Theresa May breezily told a house full of braying white blokes that trade negotiations would happen in parallel with the exit talks, over on the continent Angela Merkel was smiling thinly and saying nein. And I thought yep, that about sums it up.

You see, just because you say something's going to happen, doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to. This is a lesson which the British, more specifically the English, and to be more specific The Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (though, to be more accurate: England, bar the odd rogue outlier) have always struggled to learn. Particularly as we spent the last thousand years jolly well telling Johnny Foreigner what was what, whilst rarely stopping to consider that they may want some say in the matter.

This sense of entitlement has led May to believe that Europe will simply roll over and do her bidding (or rather, as she's not that thick, she's allowed the more knuckleheaded elements of the English press to believe that this is the case). It's the same sense of entitlement which led us to have the referendum in the first place, as Cambo thought it'd be totes fine because he was backing remain so chillax guys, I've got this. It's this obstinate belief, in the face of all prevailing evidence, that we somehow matter, are still relevant, which is a glaring flaw in the national character. This incapacity for self-reflection has inevitably led to a politcial class which values gesture over nuance. It is the root of our blind tub-thumping at every football championship (and part of the reason why the new manager thoughtfully pointing out that we're not actually that good has made him the spittle-flecked target of every phone-in warrior's ire). You could call it arrogance, but I don't think it's as active as that. Arrogance implies some self-knowledge, some preening belief that we are above the norm. This is entitlement. The simple fact that the world should be ordered this way, and if anyone else thinks otherwise, they're wrong.

And so we've arrived at this point, on a road paved with soundbites and shrugs. Of David Davis admitting he's not looked into the economic consequences. Of Boris Johnson's airy "it'll be fine". We've got here because well, we're British, and therefore the world will arrange itself to suit our best interests. Why on Earth wouldn't it?


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