A little friction, or a lot?

There is a difference between those who want to make a dramatic protest and those who have a settled longing to live utterly apart.

... Nicola Sturgeon fully understands how dire the prospects for an independent Scotland are following the collapse in the oil price. Can’t they see that if the UK voted to leave the EU, while the Scots vote, probably by some margin, to stay in, even moderate Scots would begin to dread a future inside the UK and the resumption of English dominance at its most unbearable? Whatever Sturgeon’s own rational calculations, she would be dragged along by a wave of resentment to demand a second referendum which no UK prime minister could oppose without risking resistance on a scale not seen since 1745.

Rather than put themselves through the hassle of untangling such arguments, Remainers often throw up their hands and say they’re all mad, ‘foam-flecked’, ‘swivel-eyed’, ‘fruitcakes’ – to use some of the epithets applied to Ukip, not least by David Cameron a few years ago, before he realised that half his party were that way inclined. But there is a rough distinction worth making between those Outers, on the one hand, who are merely fed up with the daily frictions of life in the EU (often confused with the frictions of modern life generally and with excessively fussy regulations imposed by our own Parliament rather than by Brussels) and would like to see a looser arrangement with our neighbours, and, on the other hand, those who are gripped by a full-throated longing for untrammelled national independence.

There is a difference between those who want to make a dramatic protest and those who have a settled longing to live utterly apart, to be eternally outside – exotikos, as the Greek so nicely puts it. Enoch Powell represented the Brexotic temperament in its purest form, but there are still plenty like him on the Tory benches: incurably chilly, sometimes abnormally intelligent, often physically awkward and requiring a good deal of personal space ...

Excerpted from London Review of Books.