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

Daily Mail - - News - By David Churchill

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


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