The EU has granted Boris Johnson another extension on Brexit. But, however long Brexit takes, Neal Ascherson writes that the ugliness of it all has destroyed the United Kingdom and the bonds between Britons:
It’s commonly said that the Brexit years have made the English more xenophobic, less tolerant, more angrily divided among themselves. The first is clearly true. Non-British Europeans confirm a new nastiness, even just a new coldness. So, even more emphatically, will migrants from Somalia, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh.
But the deepest change since 2016 is the weakening of the United Kingdom’s inner bonds. Theresa May went around preaching about “our precious, precious union”. This puzzled me, given massive English indifference. Ask somebody in Durham or Exeter why the union matters, and you get a blank stare, a shrug and perhaps a mumble. Then I understood: it wasn’t Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland that was “precious” to her, but “the union” in the abstract – a sort of legitimising halo hovering over Westminster’s anointed. It’s a cult confined to Britain’s ruling caste and, of course, to Scottish and Irish unionists who genuinely have something to lose.
The biggest division is between London -- which after the break will still remain a vibrant city -- and "the great rest of England:"
The change now is that two streams of bitter resentment – at London’s unfair wealth and privilege and at Westminster’s unfair refusal to “obey the people” – have converged into a single torrent. London is the most spectacularly diverse metropolis in Europe, which even after Brexit will go on sucking in the money of global oligarchs and hedge funds, and the location of new British institutions. London as an independent city state, like Singapore, would prosper.
The great destruction of liberal democracies continues apace. The refusal to share our wealth, in the end, will be our undoing.