Brexit is about to poison Storbritannia and Northern Ireland. While in Norway we left the EU fight behind the referendum exactly 25 years ago, the British-celebrated EU feud apparently never ends. From the Prime Minister David Cameron announced the referendum in January 2016 and to this day – almost four years later – the Brexit conflict continues to wane.
Boris Johnson's proposal for a Brexit deal was rejected by the British parliament in October. EU has therefore granted the UK a Brexit postponement until 31 January 2020.
The British make sure that EU cooperation gets a necessary shot for the bow and thus the chance
to correct the course.
Since then, things have only gotten worse, as the sensationally brutal and dramatic scene in the House of Commons in September showed – when Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached a rhetorical bottom level by calling opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn a "chlorine-washed chicken" to laughter and applause. This form of sandbox rhetoric spreads like wildfire on the island community – aided by social media – and helps to deepen the divide in British society by deepening the wound and pouring in even more salt.
Up from the trenches
Now much indicates that the British academy is finally waking up. For while Johnson wants to regain control, British academics will now have civilization back – or rather, the sharp, ironic, killing, yet civilized dialogue in public space.
In all the rankings of the world's best educational institutions, the British universities top the lists listed by Oxford and Cambridge, thanks in large part to the opportunities to attract the best heads due to the "free flow" of EU cooperation.
The Greco-French professor Kalypso Nicolaidis at the University of Oxford make an interesting attempt to shift the paradigm: lift the people – at least the elite – from the trenches and take another look at the inflamed political conflict. In his book Exodus reckoning, sacrifice she makes a welcome and indeed quite entertaining attempt to bridge and "reunite" the divided country.
Nicolaidis takes the reader back to Greek mythology, philosophy and writings while regularly drawing a red thread to today's British social debate, even with a touch of wonderful British humor. The book's rich illustrations of famous pictures and paintings from the most classic Greek gods to scenes from Monty Pythons Life of Brian makes it a fascinating study. Bold and innovative, Professor Nikolaidi demonstrates the courage to break with what we in Norway despise most about the United Kingdom: the unremarkable arrogance of the British.
The problem with everything being said and written about the EU is that it appeals to an intense and deeply entrenched intuitive attitude that is about or against. So why not go all the way back to ancient prophets – and show that both sides' attitudes stem from historically established tendencies no bureaucrats in Brussels can erase.
British academics want civilization back – or rather the sharp, ironic,
killing, yet civilizing the dialogue in public space.
Nikolaidis is happy to take us back to Exodus – the Second Exodus and the story of the Israelites' emigration from Egypt, and draw parallels to the British's quest for liberation from EU common agricultural policy and other complicated regulations. The reader will gain a deeper insight into the many previous detachment attempts and arguments that have been used throughout the British history of the British. In addition, the author objectively explains what it will actually mean to stand outside the EU.
Then she takes us to "Reckoning", a form of realization that EU cooperation does not work as it was and is intended, that EU leaders live in denial and do not want to face the reality. EU purpose is to threaten national sovereignty by sharing it rather than dwelling on it.
Gift package for the EU
In the third part, "Sacrifice", we are told the story of how the British sacrifice themselves for the rest of Europe; they ensure that EU cooperation gets a needed shot for the bow and thus the chance to correct the course. Our own Norwegian model is not bypassed in silence, on the contrary.
After identifying the millennial traditions of the Brexit roots – which elegantly acquit both sides – Nikolaidi's interesting perspectives on a different European cooperation show where both sides can "find themselves" again. First, by announcing that Brexit is a gift package for EU cooperation because it can give visionary leaders an opportunity to rethink – such as the new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have already taken the initiative: A two-year conference on the future of Europe is on the steps. Here Nikolaidis becomes a self-written participant in some capacity. For as she says: The litmus test that the EU will be able to convince the world of its free trade leadership, international cooperation and openness is precisely to find a place for European Britons. Brexit must show that it is possible to leave the EU and that it should not be done – is Nikolaidis' Brexit paradox.