What must be understood is that Brexit (Britain’s leaving the EU) has no economic justification? All post Brexit scenarios will leave the British people poorer and in the event of a ‘no deal’ substantially poorer. Instead it best understood an expression of the political classes ‘amour propre’ or self worth. Politicians want to be participate in some history changing event, so they can demonstrate there ‘greatness’ of spirit. This is why they remain so nostalgic about 1940, they want also to be known for their membership of a great and noble generation of politicians, that saved their country. Reputation counts for everything amongst the political class. Being members of a community of nations greatly restricts their scope for leadership and individual distinction. Free of the shackles of EU membership they will be freed to demonstrate their leadership qualities. Theodore Roosevelt demonstrated this when he expressed regret that during his time as US President, the US had not participated in any war. He was denied that opportunity to distinguish himself and earn glory for himself and his country.
While it may not be true that most British politicians want to wage war on their neighbours, they do want the bully pulpit from which all US President’s operate. This is why since 1945 Britain has been eager to demonstrate that it is the major power in Europe. Unfortunately they have never been able to demonstrate this, as Germany and France have been unwilling to play second fiddle to Britain. Free of EU membership these politicians believe (misguidedly) that they will as leaders of an independent nation able to play the great game of international politics. Reality will strike on leaving the EU and these politicians will discover that as leaders of a small nation off the coast of mainland Europe, they will be relegated to being just another group leaders from a small nation, shooting from the back of the room hoping to attract the attention of the great powers at the front of the room.
There is another compelling reason for Brexit. Britain has been in relative decline since the late 19th century. In 1914 Britain was still a great power, but by 1945 exhausted by two wars it was reduced to being a minor player in world affairs. In 1949 Britain became bankrupt, ruined by a run on the pound, and only to saved from the ignominy of bankruptcy by a large US loan. Politicians have recognised that this decline has robbed them of their power to play a significant role in world affairs. As a consequence politicians have resorted a number of increasingly ploys to arrest this decline. These ploys have become increasingly desperate, the latest being Brexit. The shock of leaving the EU will revolutionise British society and economy. Europe with its rules and regulations they believe stifles individual creativity and enterprise. Freed from them Britain will enjoy a new industrial renaissance and become an economic power house. Unfortunately history demonstrates shocks such as Brexit have the reverse of the intended effect. The Neoliberal experiment of the early 1980s destroyed 20% of British manufacturing industry, if Professor MInford is to be believed Brexit will destroy the rest. As a British citizen all I can hope that is the last desperate gamble of a political class obsessed with dreams of past Imperil glory and that the reality of Brexit will finally destroy any such illusions they hold about Britain being a great power.