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Who is Britain?

It's no surprise that the most insightful commentary on Brexit has emerged from writers who hail from colonised lands. If history has taught us anything, it is that colonised nations experience a constant state of self-reflection and identity making. Perhaps this
is why we see in others, what they cannot. For me, this process of self-reflection and identity making, can be seen in three distinct, but interlinking epochs. First, during the colonisation period itself. Here, this practice, was deemed a necessary one by the oppressed people,
if they were to preserve any identity they could, under colonial rule. Not all preservation was possible, with language, religion and sport, being removed in many cases, by the oppressor completely. Nevertheless certain aspect of national identities were saved, and if they
could not be saved, the inability to save them, would become a new identity in itself. Hidden in the rumblings of pre-rebellion or revolution eras, we saw the second period of self-reflection commence. For many nations, while the struggle against the coloniser was to achieve
political freedom, it was also to see a national identity of their own emerge. Distinct from that formed under colonial rule. Therefore before nations began their physical fight for independence, they were first forced to reflect on who they wished to become, once the coloniser
left their shores for good. This proved in most instances, an almost impossible task. Evidenced by the splits in rebellions, movements and parties. As arguably, when a nation has been oppressed for that long, crafting and agreeing upon a historical idea of who they were, and who
they wished to become, is no mean feat. Yet, the very process of confronting this identity, a nation's history (imagined or real) is never a futile task. Rewards will be reaped.

Finally, when freedom is obtained in part or in whole from the coloniser, the once oppressed people
begin a new process of identity formation, one primarily driven by a desire to remain distinct from the former ruler. Many nations also have to confront uncomfortable questions: who are we, without the coloniser? Now that we have freedom, what is our goal? What do we stand for?
What do we represent? This process at times proves just as confronting and divisive, as it did during the fight for freedom. This is also a reason why most nations who when freed from colonised rule, experience almost rapid civil war. While certainly not the experience any nation
wishes to have or suffer, causing wounds which take decades to heal from, civil wars also represent a time where nations are forced to confront, reflect and argue, on who they once were, and who they now wish to become. Turning then to Brexit, it is perhaps arguable to state in
light of the above commentary, that Britain has never, until now, had to experience these moments. These points in time, where Britain had to truly confronts its own identity. As Britain, and no one else. Britain has always been the Kingdom that ruled over others, or stood by
them in regional blocs, but now they will stand alone. For better or for worse. But forced either way, to confront the very idea of what it means to be British. Not as coloniser, not as an EU Member, but as the sole United Kingdom. As Fintan O'Toole so aptly wrote today:
"the truth that Brexit is much less about Britain’s relationship with the EU than it is about Britain’s relationship with itself". Now history has shown us that National identity and its formation, takes time. And lots of it. But perhaps most of all it takes reflection. In every
corner of the nation, and within every sector. This by no means, will be an easy journey. Illustrated vividly by those nations who experienced, or are still experiencing oppression and colonial rule. But the journey, the process, is a necessary one.
So if Brexit means Brexit, and Brexit means Britain, it's time to quote Fintan to “start talking about who you want to be” and finally confront the question: who is Britain?

#BrexitIsBritain #BrexitTheUncivilWar
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