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The Brexit zealots are on course to break up the union

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For three years now, millions of people across Europe have observed the playing out of a peculiarly English psychodrama: it is one that evokes the spirit of the blitz and a world war few are old enough to remember; it rehearses idealised images of a return to a golden age of imperial influence and prestige, all as the Conservative party tears itself apart in its attempts to perform Brexit.

Within Britain, any references to “national character” remain spectacularly English. The Conservatives have done little to thrash out an image of how the UK can expect to define its post-EU identity – other than vague invocations of sunlit uplands – because they cannot yet fathom how to properly exit. But most politicians and members of the public who are heavily invested in Brexit tend to speak of English exceptionalism as the trait that will pull them through.

It is notable, though, that Tory politicians have been frequently careful to refer to their group by its full name: the Conservative and Unionist party. That they do so is a kind of over-compensation, because it is increasingly obvious to anyone watching this slow-motion car crash that, for all the talk of taking back power from Brussels, the project is all about moving it to London, rather than incorporating Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast. Attention has been paid to the problems........

© The Guardian