I sense I am not alone in feeling the shame inflicted on us by recent governments of this country, and particularly at this present time. As our steel industry collapsed, due in part to China dumping large quantities of its cheap metal on the world market, Cameron and Company still felt able to fawn and drool over that country’s hierarchy and barter more of Britain’s merits and assets, as might an aging whore trade her diminishing appeal. It was degrading.
Mired in debt, we now readily bed down with anyone possessing the deep pockets we crave while being content to overlook their numerous flaws and not so hidden agenda for parting with their money. It’s not because they like us. The Chinese have a saying: there are no eternal friendships, just eternal (self) interests. Just think of this; Chinese money will help a French company build a nuclear power station for Britain. How humiliating. Clearly we no longer have the skill or desire to do it ourselves. Their money is also being sought to help build that wretched HS2.
A century ago, Britain was the head of a global empire, which had yet to reach its zenith. The Royal Navy strode the oceans of the world and, by virtue of the Two-power standard, it ranked equal to the next two biggest navies combined (at that time those of Russia and France). Our merchant navy was once the largest in the world in terms of the total tonnage flying the British red ensign.
Around the world, more people learn English than speak it as their mother tongue yet it seems we are happy to appear on the world stage as some cultural backwater of France. At the state banquet for the Chinese visitors hosted by Her Majesty, who is queen of the UK and many other English speaking realms, the menu, even including the date, was in French. The House of Lords still conducts some of its business in Norman French. Mother of Parliaments? More like a daughter of Gaul.
We are a trading nation by instinct and character but while other countries have adopted what has become known as economic patriotism to protect their important assets, modern British governments have delighted in allowing this nation’s treasures to be sold on the open market. Uniquely in the world Britain has let more than half its companies go to foreign concerns. Energy is a prime example. Of the big six power companies Npower is a subsidiary of Germany’s RWE and E.ON is a German-owned group that bought Powergen. EdF Energy is a subsidiary of the eponymous French government-owned group. Over the years it has bought London Electricity, SWEB, Seeboard and British Energy. ScottishPower is a subsidiary of Spanish company Iberdrola. And what of British Steel, Boots, Cadbury, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Heathrow, Jaguar, ICI, Land Rover, Lucozade and Ribena, to name but a few others? Perhaps most astonishing of all, that most iconic and prestigious British brand and all round synonym for excellence, Rolls Royce cars, is now in German hands (BMW), as is the Mini (BMW) and Bentley (VW). It seems nothing is sacred, and it gives new meaning to the concept of selling ourselves.
Overseas companies and financial interests are quite simply allowed to devour us, and those who should preserve, protect and defend us are the authors of this betrayal. Although speaking in a different context, a character from Shakespeare succinctly encapsulates our condition:
They are all but stomachs and we all but food;
They eat us hungrily and when they are full,
They belch us.
Emilia in Othello, 3:3
What with recklessly disposing of our businesses, having to refer to the EU before acting or abiding by its rules, we truly have come down in the world. Perhaps the chorus of Rule Britannia should be rewritten to reflect modern times:
Whore Britannia, her many gifts she gave,
Right now Britain is a modern slave.