FRIDAY, January 31, 2020 will be recorded in British history as a day of infamy, sadness and shame. Brexit represents the triumph of English populist nationalism with its toxic baggage of xenophobia, philistinism, ignorance, nostalgia, prejudice, anti-intellectualism and a blinding sense of superiority. Confronted by an existential crisis, the English have resorted to their tried and tested reaction: it’s all the fault of Johnny Foreigner.

Brexit is betrayal. It spits in the face of history and those who struggled in various ways, including the war against fascism in the 1940s, to establish social and liberal democracy across Europe. It is a tragedy for the continent as a whole. Rather than build bridges with neighbours, it is the ideology of those who desire walls. Many of its supporters would prefer to be a de facto colony of the USA.

And ultimately Brexit is also treason as it knowingly promotes the break-up of the United Kingdom. When Scotland is independent and Ireland is united, the very concept of being British will be in question. In the short term all of Britain will be poorer, less secure and increasingly lacking in influence. In the long term, history will deliver its verdict as Great Britain becomes Little England. What a bizarre outcome for the nation with an empire upon which the sun never set.

Witness, 31 January 2020