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Thought experiment thread 👇; can one explain British history as a country regarded as a commodity for sale by its rulers? Would that interpretation principally explain #Brexit?
Let's see...
Flawed Model
The Uk's history is popularly explained by only one interpretation, known as the Whig interpretation. This explains it as a series of events by which parliament became supreme. Given the government's contempt for parliament, it doesn't look that supreme to me.
Serfs not Smurfs
In the middle ages the Kings of England found it hard to raise taxes, so they established parliament to do so. Nobles, & in exchange for granting taxes they demanded land. Since the kings had little they instead gave them the land of the serfs in the Enclosures.
Closed in
Gradually the Acts of Enclosure meant that the great nobles had more land and resources than the King. Thus the weakness of the kings gave rise to the Wars of the Roses, as the nobles fought for supremacy, wars eventually won by Henry Tudor at Bosworth.
Tudor woes
Winning Bosworth didn't solve the problem for the Tudors; they still didn't have the land. This made them pretty authoritarian; he used sharp ministers (very sharp) to dominate it in England, Poyning and his laws to do the same in Ireland, but the son had an idea...
Land grab reformation
To continue to pay off the nobles with land Henry VIII turned to the only other source; the Church. It owned vast lands to finance what was basicaly a social welfare bureacracy, but of course it had no troops. Proddy lite reformation was the excuse he needed
Spoilt brats
Bullies only come back for more. England's primogeniture system meant the power of great landed estates was never broken by inheritance, and filled the towns with needy, greedy younger sons. Elizabeth's solution was to grant land in Ireland to the worst of these.
Set in stone.
The pattern is set; the great estates never diminish, the monarchs buy their power from them with more land, and the new estates never diminish either. The lords bully the kings for their younger sons (un)fair share, & there's only so much land in these two islands.
The New World comes along at the right moment. Virginia is established (& named after a town in Co. Cavan). More land, more younger sons & buying back power. The kings are briefly replaced by the Lord Protector, who has the same problems; land law is set in stone.
Charlie Abú!
Enter England's canniest and most laid back king; Charles II. He had the temerity to go to the competition, and rented England's interest to the French for a huge subsidy. He left parliament alone, but the brother was a fool, and tried to fight the new powerbase...
Wide boys
The concentration of the wealth of England, Ireland and America in the hands of few families created vast investment funds, which needed management. Some of the needy, greedy (but nerdy) younger sons went into the City to do that, and became yet another powerbase.
Li'l Bro
James II seemed too mean (and Catholic*) to buy anything. So the City boys took a leaf out of Charles II's book, and sold instead to the Stadtholder of the Netherlands, William of Orange (a Prod). Worked out fine.

*meaning he cd get the cash he needed from the Vatican
Except in Ireland (of course)
Which supported James; that was all to the good, many established families cd be turned out of their land and replaced with new needy, greedy folk, a process, which, along with America & bits of Africa and India kept the show going for a century.
Disaster Strikes!
Ameria got cheesed off in the late C17, and decided to keep all the new land it had going for its own needy and greedy, and hold onto their tax money, too. Suddenly it looks like the whole deal is in danger. Panic Stations!
Castle (non)Catholics
This led to the strangest & most transactional episodes. Sensing weakness the Irish Rebelled Again, and were put down, but the Empire desperately needed new lands and more money. A Dublin Castle clique ended up buying the lot for the price of a subcontinent.
Half a fiver is no better than none
While the English bought Ireland, quite literally with Bank of England notes cut in half (Irish nobles got the other half only if they voted for the Act of Union), two brothers from Meath pinched India, and became the rulers of England.
Some good, most bad
England was the UK, now, and an Empire again. The hegemony of the likes of Wellington & Peel led to good stuff like Catholic Emancipation, bt also bad; informers everywhere, but a system built on landgrabbing can't develop anything, really. It didn't go well.
Industrious bastards
Industry & raw materials had replaced land as a source of wealth, but the the landed were still there, so were the City. Throughout the C19, the Empire took the raw materials from India and Africa on bad terms, starving these golden geese as they did so.
Ireland again
The Irish had seen the whites of the Empire's eyes. With the Anglo-Irish off running England and Empire, they rebelled constantly. England didn't even get income tax off them. Then the death blow fell on the whole show; the Famine...
Potatoes; fuel of Empire...
State secret
How much of the British Army came form Ireland? It was a secret, but estimates in the early 19C were 40%. Catholics cdnt own land & fell into a cycle of poverty, living by potatoes alone. In 1845 the Famine & emigration destroyed the Empire's USP; the Irish reserve.
The Empire's American Wake
Instead of joining the army, the Irish began to emigrate in to America, & quickly became an important, hostile political force there. Thus the Empire had increasingly to rely on sea power, but then a man from Co. Clare was obsessed with submarines...
Full Fathom Five
To run an Empire by sea power you need troopships and battleships. Submarines and aircraft have literally blown them out of the water. Without the Irish reserve of mobile troops (take me away from a potato a day), and without ships Empire was no longer viable.
Shorn, but not forlorn
Regrettably the Germans really got Holland's submarine idea, and were able to blockade the UK twice in the 20C. This left Britain with a low revenue empire it could not police or expand. But they did NOT repine. They simply sold the whole title to the US.
Special Relationship
There's no doubt various Anglo American families* did well out of the great Imperial sell off. Particularly the oil-rich Middle Eastern bits, but that was not enough to help the UK, now cut off from cheap raw material.

*Churchill's mother was American.
Lurching along
Industrial crises dogged the UK for the rest of the C20; a management culture & worker expectations built on cheap raw materials failed spectacularly and routinely in a harder world. In 87 alast sell off kicked the can down the road; Big Bang in the City of London.
So here we are; the model of younger sons demanding more, and the king or prime minister* pushing yet another venture to give it to them, has run out of road. There's only one thing left to sell.

*Vickie just gave up; small blame to her.
Sell the farm👨‍🌾
The last thing left to sell is the UK itself. There are three potential bidders; the US, Russia and the EU. They well thought they had the country sold to the EU, but the EU turned out not to be a hegemon, but what it says it is; a free association of nations.
Empty auction room
With the EU simply not comprehending the deal things look bad. The US is looking like it's not in the game anymore*. Is Russia in the market, or just messing (as usual)? China is too far away until the North Pole is ice-free in the summer.

*but cd be faking it
The UK has always held onto Northern Ireland in hopes the Irish can be made to pay for it, but the Irish are also a free association, and will wait until NI comes by itself and said no to such a deal in 1941. Besides we've had enough of these shenanigans.
Backstop position
One thing is for sure, neither Ireland or the EU will sponsor another generation of needy, greedy English younger sons. That's for the birds.
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