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Brexit Britain Confronts Reality

Britons must look at themselves calmly and honestly, recognizing the tough times that lie ahead and the changes needed to get the country back on track. Unfortunately, the country's political leaders remain unwilling to treat voters like grown-ups.

LONDON – Emma Duncan, one of Britain’s most respected journalists, recently wrote a commentary in The Times in which she reported on the experience of a Spanish friend who had visited the United Kingdom earlier this summer. Never mind the dire political situation in Britain, where there is currently little sign of anything resembling adequate government. Her friend encountered long airport queues, endless waits for luggage, crowded trains, miserable journeys, and dirty streets.

Ask Britons whether this sounds like an unfair exaggeration, and my guess is that most would say it matched their own recent experience – especially if they had waited for hours in our airports or ports to get away on holiday. In fact, many would recite a litany of other daily problems. With annual inflation at 10%, trade unions are up in arms and threatening strikes. The National Health Service is in increasing trouble. And soaring energy bills this winter will leave many families facing real hardship. Charities that work with the poor and deprived increasingly talk about people having to choose between eating and heating.

All this represents to some extent the accumulated political and economic detritus of years of bad governance. The COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the inevitable consequences of an appallingly negotiated Brexit have added to Britain’s problems. On top of that, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unfit for the office he has held, mendaciously peddling cheap British boosterism and appealing to prejudice instead of offering rational and competent policymaking.

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