Britain’s Brexit Brawl: Patriotism And Personality Types
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Three months before President Trump was elected, a meme appeared on social media calling for Queen Elizabeth to overrule the Declaration of Independence and “Make America Great Britain Again,” as this was surely preferable to allowing The Donald to become the US head of state. [Americans shun Trump and campaign to install Britain’s QUEEN as head of state, By Sofia Delgado, Express, August 14 2016] Considering the state of political chaos in which the U.K. is now embroiled over the imminent departure from the European Union mandated by the 2016 Brexit referendum, perhaps someone should start a petition for Britain to go the way of Hawaii—get rid of its monarch and become a US territory.

Not since the Suez Crisis of 1956, when Egyptian dictator Colonel Nasser took control of the Suez Canal, de facto British territory, has Britain witnessed such turmoil in its government. It’s been suggested that the Suez Crisis was ultimately reducible to psychology. For some inexplicable reason, Colonel Nasser and Anthony Eden, British premier at the time, just hated each other. Had that not been so, it’s possible that a peaceful accommodation might have been reached. But the personal hostility between the two leaders was so intense that there just had to be a war, which Eden (drugged-up and semi-deranged due to chronic illness) had to humiliatingly withdraw from because Eisenhower wouldn’t help. [Blood and Sand comprehensively destroys what’s left of Anthony Eden’s reputation, By Nigel Jones, The Spectator, October 1, 2016].

As far as I can see, a great deal of the crisis currently sweeping the British government can be reduced to similar differences in psychology, and especially upbringing.

But first some background. There is a very fundamental split within the UK’s Conservative government. The ardent “Remainers,” who, like former Prime Minister David Cameron, actively campaigned for the UK to stay in the European Union in the run-up to the referendum of June 23, 2016, have been pretty much purged from senior positions. So the split is between the “Cautious Remainers,” who wanted to stay in but diplomatically kept their heads down during the campaign, and the “Leavers” who are now allied with “Reluctant Remainers,” Eurosceptics (spelled that way because they’re a UK phenomenon) who voted “Remain” while holding their noses.

The robotic, uncharismatic Prime Minister Theresa May—known as the “Maybot” in the British press [Andrew Neil has BRUTAL summary of state of British politics - ‘Maybot NO mates!’, By Charlotte Davis, Express, November 16, 2018]is in the former camp. Mrs May, who once tactlessly told the Conservative Party Conference that people saw them as “the Nasty Party” [Nasty party” warning to Tories, By Michael White and Anne Perkins, Guardian, October 8, 2002] emerged as Prime Minister amid the political blood-letting of the totally unexpected “Leave” result. Though rather humorless, she seemed safe and competent.

The Tory Members of Parliament whittled down the candidates to May and a “Leave” junior minister, called Andrea Leadsom, whose names were to be put to the party membership. Leadsom could well have won the ballot of the (overwhelmingly “Leave”) party members had she got that far. But, inexperienced, she  was subject to an MSM mugging in which a duplicitous journalist repeatedly asked her about her children until she made a comment implying that because she had children, unlike May, she had more of a stake in Britain’s future, ergo May took office unopposed. [Andrea Leadsom pulls out of Conservative leadership race, By Anushja Asthana et al., Guardian, July 11,  2016]

All went well until May called an election, in June 2017, to beef up her small majority. Everyone assumed she’d win handsomely because the Labour opposition was in disarray. Its SJW membership had elected Jeremy Corbyn, a university-dropout, vegetarian, Republican, IRA-sympathizing Communist as leader, who was only strongly supported by the most eccentric (and minority) Labour MPs, including his former lover, Jamaican-descended Diane Abbott. Unfortunately for May, Corbyn proved to be a charismatic campaigner in contrast to the over-promoted, gaffe-prone “Maybot” who shunned TV debates and did not run a National Conservative campaign as expected but focused on Paul Ryan-type wonkery, proposing what seemed like a “dementia tax” meaning that elderly people needing social care would have nothing to leave to their children and couldn’t face down accusations that the election was unnecessary [Theresa May: 10 reasons why the PM blew her majority, By Alex Hunt and Brian Wheeler, BBC News, June 14. 2017]  She lost her majority, needing to rely on Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a fundamentalist Protestant group, to get legislation passed

This week, May announced her agreement with the EU. It is an appalling betrayal of the referendum. Britain will remain subject to swathes of EU Law, potentially indefinitely, and pay a fortune for the privilege. Northern Ireland will only partly leave the EU, because it will remain part of the customs of union. And the agreement will be all but impossible to overturn. [What is in Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement?, By Holly Pyne, Talk Radio,  November 16 2018] In scenes not witnessed in the House of Commons since the fall of Neville Chamberlain in 1940, the Prime Minister’s own MPs arose to accuse her of betraying the voters, to accuse her of being a liar, and to inform her that they would be attempting to trigger a Conservative leadership contest.

The lead DUP MP leader told the Commons that May likely no longer had his party’s support—because she was effectively breaking up the UK and turning the UK into a “vassal state” of the EU; meaning no majority; no laws will be passed.

Two members of her cabinet had already resigned before May even got to the Commons to make her announcement.  

The Commons on Thursday was a bear-pit, the human struggle in the raw…and there’s something particularly interesting about the leading “Leave” forces in that regard.

During the summer of 2016, after the Brexit Referendum victory,  UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage stated that a lot of the “Remainers” are shielded from the damage the EU does to the UK, such as unlimited migration from Eastern Europe undermining the wages of the working class, because “They’re too wealthy.” [Triumph for 'Brexiteer' Nigel Farage, British scourge of the EU, Reuters, June 24, 2016]  In this sense, the backgrounds of the leading “Brexiteers” in the Conservative Party are worthy of note.

They’ve suffered, especially at formative ages. And unpredictable suffering makes you instinctive—including towards our instinct to fight for our genetic, and thus ethnic, interests. It makes you prone to take risks, it makes you more prepared to be uncooperative; it sets you up for an unstable, unpredictable life. 

All but one of the 12 leading Brexiteers and Eurosceptics in, or until recently in, the Cabinet attended “state schools”—what Americans call “public schools,” evidence that their upbringing was far from wealthy. And with those who are considered the most pro-Brexit, there’s a fascinating seam of early stress running through them. Dominic Raab, who resigned on Thursday, is the son of Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany and who probably instilled him with their own trauma. Esther McVey, who also left the cabinet on Thursday, was brought up in foster care. Penny Mordaunt dropped out of school as a teenager to a be a fulltime carer for her dying mother. David Davis (who resigned in July) was raised by a single mother on a “council estate” (= housing project). Michael Gove was adopted. Dr. Liam Fox was also brought up on a council estate. Priti Patel’s parents were Ugandan Asians who fled Idi Amin for England and established the stereotypical Asian newsagents, derisively known, when Priti was a girl in the 70s and 80s, as a “Paki Shop.” Sajid Javid spent his childhood in the flat over his parents’ “Paki Shop.”

Unlike many of the cabinet’s “Remainers,” with their private educations, these people have endured hardship at formative ages, helping us to understand the “maverick” and also evolutionarily adaptive identities which they seem to have adopted.

In many ways, Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of an East Midlands green grocer and Methodist preacher and whom the “Leavers” all idolize, was just such a person. An ardent if discreet Eurosceptic, she led a cabinet mainly composed of pro-European public schoolboys (British parlance for attending prestigious private boarding), with a smattering of Eurosceptic, lower middle class colleagues such as Norman Tebbit  whose father, during the Great Depression, “got on his bike and looked for work and . . . kept looking until he found it.”    

The only exceptions to this rule: Old Etonians Boris Johnson, who resigned as Foreign Secretary in July over May’s Brexit plans, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, who, though never in the cabinet, has been touted as a future party leader due to his cult-popularity grounded in his eccentricity, aristocratic genuineness and refusal to patronize the voters.

Rees-Mugg’s conservatism is so marked, even in how he dresses and speaks, that he is dubbed the “Member for the Eighteenth Century.” Despite his affable and calm exterior, being that conservative tends to be associated with Neuroticism (feeling negative feelings strongly) [Personality and political attitudes, By Alan Gerber et al., American Political Science Review, 2010] as does eccentricity in general [Eccentricity dimension of the Dimensional Clinical Personality Inventory, By Lucas de Francisco Carvalho et al., Estudos de Psicologia, 2016] as well as an extreme degree of stifling Conscientiousness and thus aversion to disorder (See The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives, By Dana R. Carney et al., Political Psychology, 2008).  So beneath Rees-Mogg’s beneath jolly exterior, he suffers. And he deals with this not only by being following our evolved instincts—he is an extremely serious Catholic, opposing abortion even in cases of rape—but by developing a superficially strong sense of identity, rooted deep in the history of his ethnic group.

As for Boris, who has a penned a biography called The Churchill Factor, he seems to be very much a latter-day Winston Churchill: charmingly clownish, unconventional, superficially genuine, not ashamed of his upper-class background and charismatic; but ultimately unprincipled and happy to take whatever side might be to his political advantage: Churchill switched parties twice.

Right up until the announcement of the Referendum, it was unclear which side Johnson would come out for. It’s widely agreed that his plan was to campaign for the Brexit so dearly desired by the “party faithful” and so get himself elected party leader, and thus Prime Minister, after Britain stayed in the EU and Cameron eventually stood aside. [Yet again, Boris Johnson has exposed himself as a self-serving charlatan, By Ian Birrell, Guardian, July 9, 2018] When the No Vote came through, Johnson was visibly in shock.

In many ways, the EU leaders are a similar “type” to Johnson. Power-hungry and Narcissistic, they have calculated that the best way to attain power in post-War Europe is to be anti-nationalist and pro-equality. But as they now form the Establishment, Johnson has made a different calculation.

The pro-EU faction in the U.K. seem to be motivated by a combination of a practical desire for money and, in the case of the Leftist mob, a child-like inability to cope with the idea that not everyone can achieve the same. According to The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives [D.R. Carney, Political Psychology, October 23, 2008] this personality type is characterized  by low Conscientiousness and high “Openness,” the latter associated with being an artistic dreamer

But there’s an evolutionary dimension to this beyond the backgrounds of the key players. In July 2016, the Conservative Party wanted a “safe pair of hands” to sort out a “crisis.” But what we now have is in the British government is an extreme crisis, more akin to a war. On Friday, a number of Brexiteer cabinet ministers tried to calm things down by publicly declaring their support for May.   [Defiant Theresa May rebuilds shattered government as Brexit crisis eases, By Laura Smith-Spark and Rob Picheta, CNN, November 16, 2018]

But it seems most unlikely that the Conservatives will tolerate this characterless, vacillating old vicar’s daughter at its helm for much longer. A new leader will emerge who has suffered, who has fought, and who will, hopefully, like the Iron Lady, bring this experience to fighting for the interests of the nation.   


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