Call by 227,000 Mail readers to make blue passports in Britain is hailed in Commons
That was Orwell’s damning view of the appeasers in WW2. The same accusation applies to Remainers who still think they can stop Brexit . . . ESSAY
THE Daily Mail petition demanding that Britain’s post-Brexit passports are made in the UK has been praised in Parliament – and has passed 227,000 signatures.
Labour MP Ian Mearns highlighted the Mail’s battle in the Commons as he criticised the Government’s passport policy as ‘a sham’.
More than 206,000 readers have signed up online, calling for new blue passports to be made in Britain, with another 20,748 writing to us – and thousands more letters have not yet been counted.
The Home Office wants the FrancoDutch company Gemalto to make Britain’s passports from October next year, putting up to 200 jobs at its British rival De La Rue at risk in the North East.
De La Rue is thought to have scored
‘Exporting British jobs’
highest among all the bidders for the quality of its work, but it was beaten by Gemalto on price.
However, the Home Office says outsourcing abroad will save up to £120million over 12 years.
Mr Mearns, MP for Gateshead and chairman of the backbench business committee, said: ‘ The Daily Mail petition opposing this decision has now passed 200,000 signatures.
‘It is right that as we leave the EU we continue to maintain close relationships with our neighbours and allies.
‘But this Government has serious questions to answer over the assessment, or apparent lack of assessment, of the economic impact this decision will have on the North East.’
He also hit out at the soaring cost of applications, which will earn an extra £50million for the Passport Office during the next financial year.
The price of online applications has increased by nearly 4 per cent, or 17 per cent for postal applications and 27 per cent for children’s passports. The changes came in on Tuesday.
Mr Mearns added: ‘What a sham that the Government can be claim to be getting the deal for its people when in fact it’s raising costs and exporting British jobs at the same time.’
He said France would ‘never countenance’ having its passports made abroad, while Germany, Italy and Spain also print their own passports.
Calling for the contract’s finalisation to be halted so a full parliamentary debate can take place after the Easter recess, which ends on April 16, Mr Mearns added: ‘There needs to be a more robust debate and better solution than currently planned.’ De La Rue has until Tuesday to lodge an appeal against the Home Office’s choice of Gemalto.
Industry figures believe up to 400 related businesses could be affected by the decision to have passports made abroad.
Labour’s business spokesman Rebecca Long-Bailey said: ‘There needs to be an approach that looks at the impact on our national economy rather than looking for the cheapest offer on the table.
‘We now want to see detail from the Government about this, it’s important we get the opportunity to speak on this.’
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: ‘There is growing momentum behind the Daily Mail campaign to get our passports printed in this country – and quite right too. We are following the culture of EU procurement rules, that’s what we do, we tender out across Europe regardless of security, regardless of symbolism.
‘The fact we’re printing these passports there, is a symptom of EU membership and shows why we have to leave and start rethinking our lives.’
Apart from 200 De La Rue jobs in Gateshead, there are also fears for the 90 workers at the firm’s paper mill in Bathford, Somerset, and workers at the passport personalisation centre at Heywood in Greater Manchester.
ANEW era of independence is almost upon us. A year from now, Britain will formally withdraw from the EU, beginning the process of restoring our sovereignty from foreign rule. But the 2016 referendum result has undoubtedly left deep divisions in our country.
Supporters of Brexit are optimistic about the long-term future, welcoming the return of democratic control over our borders, trade, justice system and laws.
In contrast, diehard Remainers constantly preach a message of doom — determined to create a climate of despair. They tell us that Britain faces economic meltdown and international isolation.
At the same time, they try to smear the democratic process, claiming that the vote by 17.4 million people was a triumph for bigotry and insularity.
This sneering and utterly unfounded attitude is espoused by the Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable, who has said Brexit was ‘driven by nostalgia’ for a world where ‘faces were white’ — despite the fact that most European migrants are white.
And yet the Remainers’ litany of woe has proved hopelessly ill- judged. Far from collapsing, the economy has grown robustly since the referendum, with employment levels and export orders at record levels.
Similarly, Brexit negotiations have gone much more smoothly than predicted by Jeremiah pessimists — particularly the BBC — who try to portray every problem as a crisis.
Nor has Britain, as the scaremongers of Project Fear said, become a pariah on the global stage. On the contrary, the Government’s tough stance towards Russia over the Salisbury poisonings led this week to an unprecedented show of solidarity from other nations. ON
A more fundamental level, Remainers seem to show no understanding as to why the majority of the electorate backed Leave.
Constant attacks, equating Brexiteers with the dark, reactionary forces of prejudice, could not be more wrong.
In fact, the overwhelming impetus behind Brexit was a profound love of country, reflected in a patriotic desire to regain self-governance, uphold our own democracy and restore our nationhood.
These, surely, are noble sentiments. After all, the drive for national autonomy is the ideal that has inspired so many liberation movements through history, from the American Revolution of the 18th century, to the Indian push for independence in the mid20th century.
Moreover, the willingness to stand up for our own national freedom is a great British tradition, revealed at its most honourable in the victories over Continental tyranny in two World Wars.
But, for many Remainers, patriotism is something to be sneered at — an outmoded, reactionary concept that promotes aggression and exclusion. Yet true patriotism is an extension of the love for family, a primeval and profoundly moral force that gives meaning to citizenship, providing unity to the nation and a sense of mutual belonging and identity to the people.
Few Britons have understood this better than George Orwell, the great chronicler of English patriotism, whose writings are infused with a deep, though often critical, devotion to our island.
Orwell is best remembered for his two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen EightyFour, which both warned, chillingly, of the dangers of totalitarianism.
But in 1941, he published a brilliant essay on our national character called England Your England. In it, he attempted not only to highlight some of the qualities that embodied our national spirit, but also to extol the virtue of British pride, which he described as the ‘invisible chain’ by which ‘the nation is bound together’.
Orwell wrote England Your England in the autumn of 1940, the last time Britain stood alone, with the German Blitz of London at its peak.
He began with a striking reference to the Luftwaffe bomber fleets: ‘As I write, highly civilised human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.’ Yet, even though it was produced nearly 80 years ago, his words still resonate because of the power of his language and the shrewdness of its insights.
In fact, many of its enduring themes help to explain the vote for Brexit — most notably Orwell’s belief in the innate decency and patriotism of the traditional British workingclass, who were the backbone of the nation’s defences in 1940 and, of course, the Leave vote in 2016.
He was scathing about the incompetence and cowardice of the political establishment, whose disastrous policy of appeasement in the Thirties had led Britain to the brink of disaster.
This cravenness had its echo in the long, defeatist submission by Britain’s postwar political class to rule by the unelected, unaccountable oligarchy of Brussels.
‘ The heirs of Nelson and Cromwell are not in the House of Lords,’ wrote Orwell. ‘They are in the fields and the streets, in the factories . . . in the four-ale bar and the back garden.’
Orwell’s strongest criticism was reserved for intellectuals who derided any idea of patriotism or fighting for the nation’s survival: ‘Sometimes squishily pacifist, sometimes violently pro- Russian, but always anti-British.’ Some of those words could certainly be applied to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour front bench, or to the more fanatical members of the pro-Brussels brigade such as Tony Blair, Sir Nick Clegg and Lord (Chris) Patten who repeatedly tell the British people how stupid they were to vote Brexit.
Blair was at it again this week, saying the decision to cut ties with Brussels was a disaster and urging a second referendum. Indeed, in a memorable passage, Orwell complained that ‘the English intelligentsia are Europeanised’.
As a result: ‘ England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality.
‘ In Left- wing circles, it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horseracing to suet puddings.’ HE
ADDED: ‘It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save The King than of stealing from a poor box.’
That trait of visceral selfloathing still prevails among the anti-Brexit worshippers of Brussels power.
Typical is that unelected panjandrum, Lord Kerr, a former diplomat who has argued that the process of leaving the EU is reversible at any point up until March 2019.
Or former Cabinet Secretary
Lord ( Gus) O’Donnell, who compared Brexiteer politicians to snake oil salesmen, and Clegg, who said he hoped old people would die out and allow Remain to win.
Orwell’s attack on such an unpatriotic mindset had all the more weight because he was a man of the Left himself.
But as a maverick outsider, he could never be stereotyped. Eccentric individualism was the hallmark of his life.
The son of a civil servant in the British Indian Empire, he was born in 1903 in the northern town of Motihari and, after returning to England, he won a scholarship to Eton. But his family were too poor to enable him to go to university, so he joined the police in Burma — then under British rule — where he acquired a lifelong hostility towards militarism and imperialism.
Back in Britain, he was turned down for military service in 1939 because of a problem with his lungs. But he proved his patriotism by volunteering for the Home Guard, which he envisaged as a kind of People’s Army.
His love of England, especially its oddities and everyday activities, shone through his writings, as shown in an affectionate essay in 1946 outlining 11 golden rules for the ‘correct’ way to make tea.
He regarded the drink as ‘one of the mainstays of civilisation in this country’. (His advice, which the bibulous EU president JeanClaude Juncker would never understand, was to use a ‘good breakfast cup’ — ‘ that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type’, and he preferred milk that was not ‘too creamy’.)
But it was in his essay England Your England that he composed his most compelling hymn to patriotism. It should be compulsory reading for every politician, to help them understand what Orwell did instinctively — namely that through English life, there is a recognisable set of ancient characteristics that bind the nation together.
For Orwell, this had nothing to do with jingoist flag-waving, one of the favourite accusations that hardline Remainers now make against Brexit.
Instead, he felt this patriotic devotion was tied to cherished sights, sounds and smells that evoked a sense of attachment.
There was, he wrote, ‘something distinctive and recognisable’ in English culture, ‘somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar boxes.’
Of course, much of Orwell’s England has disappeared, but in his essay, he spoke of features of our national personality that now help to explain the vote for Brexit.
One is the respect for individual liberty and privacy. ‘The most hateful name in an English ear is Nosey Parker,’ he wrote, an outlook that can today be found in the dislike of bossy, directive-issuing EU officialdom.
Yoked to this is a deep suspicion of political dogma and powerhungry leaders — a prime reason why fascism never commanded any great public following in the Thirties, in the same way that the European federalist ideology has never had anything but fringe appeal in Britain.
British humour and tolerance have also played their part in the refusal to take authority too seriously. The goose- step was never adopted here, argued Orwell, as ‘people in the street would laugh’. Irreverence, too, featured in the successful Brexit campaign, characterised by such figures as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, who delighted in poking fun at the absurdities of the EU’s politically correct bureaucracy.
It was Farage who famously told the then- EU president in the European Parliament that he had ‘all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a lowgrade bank clerk’ and dismissed his homeland, Belgium, as a ‘non-country’. BUT
Orwell maintained that, for all their antiauthoritarian instincts, the British have an abiding belief in constitutionalism, the rule of law and fair play.
That is why so many Britons dislike how European institutions have overridden our own Parliament and courts and why there has been such public indignation over European rulings that demand votes for prisoners or welfare payments to EU migrants who may never have contributed a penny to Britain.
The British sense of justice is just as offended today as it was in Orwell’s time.
Of course, British society is now very different from wartime. For a start, its demographics have been transformed by unprecedented mass immigration.
When Orwell wrote England Your England, the country was one of the most homogenous on Earth, with just 238,000 foreign nationals living here.
Compare that to the millions of migrants who were allowed into Britain in the Blair years.
The UK is now a land where more than 15 per cent of the population was born abroad, and where more than 60 per cent of babies born in London have foreign mothers.
Cultural diversity, along with cheap travel and the internet, means that Britons are now far more open to foreign influences and customs.
Orwell wrote of the English working class’s ‘abhorrence of foreign habits’, words that could hardly be more anachronistic in the age of Ryanair flights and chicken tikka masala.
Depressingly, Orwell’s boast that ‘the gentleness of English civilisation is its most marked characteristic’ could hardly sound more outdated, given the dramatic rise in levels of crime and violence on our streets.
Yet, for all the social change, Britain retains very many of the attributes that Orwell outlined in England Your England.
Writing in the darkest hours of World War II, he said with great trepidation: ‘It needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture.’
Thank God, Britain survived in 1945.
But then, in subsequent decades, the voracious maw of Brussels rule threatened to be that disaster.
I believe, though, the date of March 29, 2019, will be testimony, to the fact that it will be the ordinary English people — not the ruling class — who, with their instinctive patriotism and wisdom, will be once again the saviours of Britain.
Too keen to surrender our hard-won freedoms (from left): Blair, Clegg and Cameron