Not English to the end


April 7

Dear Editor,

What a shame that the apparently quintessential Englishman John le Carré (née David Cornwell) felt the need to die an Irishman. I refer to the recent revelation by his son that before his death last December he took Irish citizenship in order to remain European because he was so opposed to Brexit. He had told his friends that Brexit was ‘totally irrational’ and ‘evidence of dismal statesmanship on our part, and lousy diplomatic performances’.

It is tragic that le Carré felt so disenchanted with his country of birth that he would want to give up his nationality.

As a proud Englishman and a spy novel aficionado, I was very affected by what I read. Not that there is anything wrong with Ireland – it’s a beautiful and noble country. But his action is a testament to what has happened in our green and pleasant land.

He had stated before he died that “I think my own ties to England were hugely loosened over the last few years. And it’s a kind of liberation, if a sad kind.”

And the strange thing is that I have been feeling the same thing in recent years. It’s not just living abroad – it comes mainly from reading about and witnessing what has happened in England over the last five years.

The mother country seems to be trying to take on a new identity – jingoism holds sway and intolerance is rife. An awful attitude to non-Britons has flowed to the surface and the tolerance that once we held dear seems to have evaporated in many ways.

You only have to read the Costa Blanca News Facebook page to see the comments of these people – the completely embarrassing ‘Britain is Best’, ‘Jonny-foreigner needs to be taught a lesson’ type rubbish which comes from some of your commenters who are obviously based in the UK. It is very hard to feel any kinship with these people, or respect.

The same rubbish appears from the British Government at every turn. Every policy they announce is suddenly ‘world beating’. They are ‘Great’ at everything. Boris at his boastful best.

I feel the UK’s detachment from Europe through leaving the EU has had a very negative effect on the mentality of many of our countrymen. They are now disparaging about most things that come from neighbouring countries and inward looking.

I have to say that this has had an effect on me. Like le Carré, I can feel a slow loosening of ties. I am still an Englishman, but become more European by the day. I have started to associate Englishness with negative thoughts – by contrast ‘European’ seems more enlightened, open and tolerant.

Unlike le Carré, I will not die an Irishman, but I’m not sure how English I will be either.

Timothy Middleton-Smith

Read more in this week’s print edition or go to e-paper


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.