do not mention the war

Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

News from the Front: a visit to Post-Brexit Britain

In Brexit on June 12, 2018 at 10:00

It’s a while that I went to Britain to attend a conference, two years to be precise when I went to speak at the World Cup Symposium organised at Birkbeck to speak about the World Cup Final of 1966 from a German perspective. A lot has happened since, Brexit for instance. Ever since reading the results of the referendum I am shaking my head in disbelief. Two years on and I’m once more in the UK, travelling from Paris to Manchester via London. Plenty of time to have a look at the newspapers of the country.


The choice of papers couldn’t be easier: Daily Heil Mail from Friday 8 June, the New European from Thursday 7 June and the Evening Standard also from Friday. The first two could not be further apart from each other. The Daily Mail never made a secret of its position: Leave EU while the New European was established shortly after the referendum and is distinctly pro-EU, therefore in the Remain Camp. The Evening Standard is a bit in between these two previous papers.

Barrels from Boris

Is how the Mail opens on the front page highlighting the infighting in the Brexit camp within the government. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson was heavily criticising his colleague, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Phil Hammond for having become a road block en route to Brexit. Moreover, Johnson admits that he is admiring Donald Trump for his approach. Quote Johnson:

I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump. I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness. Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.

The City Editor of the paper, Alex Brummer (What a name! In Germany a Brummer is a fly that hovers of piles of dog shit) accuses Hammond of being a ‘one-man Brexit road block’ whereas he should be confident as Britain has a historically low unemployment rate and an the public finances are in better shape than they were a few years back. In Brummer’s view Hammond should be praising the ‘entrepreneurial brilliance of British firms and the world-class institutions in the City of London’ but instead he remains pessimistic and reluctant to release money for other departments as they prepare for Brexit. Ironically the same paper is criticising water companies for wasting water and ripping off customers. The so-called entrepreneurial brilliance is described as one of the ‘most moronic acts of corporate largesse in recent memory’ by Dan Hyde, the Mail’s Money Editor. Worse, this behaviour plays into Corbyn’s hands which amounts to an act of national treason.

There is more to watch in this short clip from Twitter:

If you need further evidence that there is no road map, no clarity, this is it.

This very disunity within government is picked upon by the New European and it is indeed quite easy as the government has not come up with a plan for Brexit, neither for the road towards it nor for the path once the deal is done and Brexit is a reality. The editor of the paper, Matt Kelly highlights this by stating that there were

‘Two years of progress-free Westminster shenanigans, and for what?

Power. Nothing so grand as for power within the nation … But merely power within one’s own political party.

How truly pathetic.’

The opposition Labour party is also criticised by almost following the same lines as the government thus betraying their own mantra:

Help the government survive when they say they want to bring it down.

Ignoring members when they say they listen to them.

Mindblowing election-losing staff.

The editor-at-large of the paper, former Labour chief spin doctor Alistair Campbell argues that two years are a long time during which a lot can happen:

Foundations can be built in two years time. My team Burnley FC went from the Championship to qualification for the Europa League in two years. Great things can happen in two years.

Yet the government has failed to record any progress in the period since June 23, 2016, the day of the Brexit referendum. His article is headlined ‘ They won the vote two years ago but have lost the argument ever since.’

Nine Months

Last but not least, the Evening Standard from London. A paper that is free to pick up which I did at St. Pancras International just before boarding the train back to the continent. Led by former chancellor George Osborne there was controversy how he could swap a political office so quickly for a journalistic one, not only because of his lack of experience as a journalist but also because he was the mastermind of Austerity Britain 2.0 from 2010 onwards and is still an MP for Tatton in Cheshire.

The paper however reports that Brussels is warning the UK – again – that time is running out on Brexit. Given that there are only nine months left, this is surely correct to do so. Alistair Campbell stressed that within two years time, one could meet the right person, fall in love and have a baby, which brings me back to the nine months mentioned above. It takes just over nine months for a woman to carry a baby in her womb before giving birth. Given that Brexit is a reality and that the cut off date is approaching fast, it seems that Britannia is further away from even becoming Brexit-pregnant or from giving birth in March 2019, it is surprising that people like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Moog are so convinced that there will be a baby, i.e. a deal for Brexit in the time remaining.

This is indeed mind-boggling what is happening in the UK with regards to Brexit. No one has an idea what is going to happen in a year’s time, least of all the government who have a responsibility for the country. Even the opposition, Labour, seem to have no idea. They pledge for staying in the single market but do not wish to be member of the European Economic Area. This is cherry picking which Labour have accused the government to do yet they have no better idea themselves.

As we approach the second ‘anniversary’ of this historical referendum I am still in disbelief that a country like the UK where I have lived for five years, where I have come to learn many useful lessons can turn so brutally against any common sense, against itself really, that it hurts. It hurts me.


Values, Identities and Morals

In Identity on July 15, 2014 at 09:00

The question of identity and the quest for identity has become very difficult in modern times. The Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has argued that identity has become a liquid concept that alters its shapes faster than it is possible to realize the changes. Read the rest of this entry »

War Horses Everywhere!

In History on February 12, 2014 at 10:00
HaniwaHorse Haniwa Horse from Japan, c. 6. century AD the Kofun period

2014 is upon us and with this comes an important anniversary in the history of humanity but also in the history of the Anglo-German relations. With it there will be a lot of coverage about the history of the conflict, its causes and consequences. It is important to keep the focus as otherwise writing about the Great War turns into a repetition of old stereotypes and thus a prolongation of those, which is certainly not wanted. Read the rest of this entry »

Germany: The Accidental Empire?

In Germany, History on October 18, 2012 at 12:06

A whole series of articles published in the guardian newspaper investigate how the British (English?) views on Germany have changed over the last decade. The topics range from the german army finding it difficult to adopt its new role, to the World Cup 2006 which was the biggest factor in English media to alter the public’s perception of Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

2012: Annus Britannicus

In Britain, Identity, Olympics, Sport on September 11, 2012 at 13:07


The current year will go into the history books of Britain for various reasons. First, there is the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Second, Bradley Wiggins is the first Briton who has won the Tour de France. He later added Olympic Gold which was the major sporting event of this year so far: The London Olympics. Finally, Andy Murray has won a Grand Slam title, the first for a Briton since 1936! Read the rest of this entry »

How to build a team: Handball

In Britain, Olympics, Sport on July 31, 2012 at 12:56

Britain is a country that is dominated by football, cricket and rugby. Add tennis, golf and the sporting calendar for many sporting enthusiasts is full to the brim. Interestingly, indoor sports are not featuring on this list. For the London Olympics Britain for the first time field a men’s handball team. If they manage to win a medal is doubtful. The women’s team is a far more interesting story as the team consists of players ‘assembled’ from all over Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

How to make things

In Britain, Germany, History, Identity, Stereotypes on January 4, 2012 at 12:00

Britain looks at Germany with envy when it comes to its productivity, this article in The Guardian newspaper suggests. There is a certain truth about it. However, the whole truth is somewhat different, of course. While the Germans can be proud of their car and other branches of industrial production, other areas are seriously struggling, education for instance. Industry and production have always been protected by the government unlike in Britain where a certain ‘Iron Lady‘ privatized many British industries such as Leyland and the country is still suffering the after effects of Thatcher‘s policy today. Read the rest of this entry »


In Britain, England, Germany, History on October 12, 2011 at 13:39

While Britain is still seeing the phone hacking scandal unfolding and gets to know more and more details about the affair, Germany this week had its very own hacking scandal of a different kind. The Chaos Computer Club has found out that a small company in Bavaria programmed a Trojan to be planted in computers to screen everything the users are typing etc. This of course happened with the authorization of the federal government. Read the rest of this entry »

Eine Frage hätte ich da noch…

In Britain, Germany, History, Identity, Literature, Stereotypes on July 26, 2011 at 12:40

…so sprach Peter Falk, auch bekannt als Inspector Columbo, in über sechzig Episoden wenn er die oder den vermeintliche/n Täter/in einlullte, um sie dann mit einer letzten Frage zu überrumpeln. Dies soll kein Nachruf auf den großen Peter Falk sein, das können andere besser. Vielmehr soll es um den Erfolg englischsprachiger TV Serien im deutschen TV gehen.

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War minus the Shooting/ Wie Krieg ohne Schiessen

In Cold War, England, Football, Germany, History, Literature, Sport, Stereotypes, World Cup on August 14, 2010 at 23:18

Sport is war minus the shooting. That was the essence of an article George Orwell wrote in 1945 about a tour of the Dynamo Moscow football team in Britain. Certainly he wasn’t a friend of football preferring the Olympic Games and their supposed peacefulness and which brings nations together peacefully rather than stirring up hate and jealousy. Written just after the end of the Second World War, Orwell clearly had in his view that sport could become a means in the fight for the superiority of the systems, i.e. East vs. West. He was spot on in his observation and as the development of the Olympic Games has shown during the era of the Cold War.

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