How not to talk about Brexit
No such qualms in today’s Daily Telegraph, which hails International Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s launch of his post-Brexit trade negotiations as a ‘trade crusade’.
The tendency to euphemise Britain’s imperial and colonial past has been a feature of Tory rhetoric around Brexit, with reference to our history as an ‘outwood looking’, ‘great trading nation’, and the implied return of former glories. (Boris Johnson spoke at Tory conference of Britain’s ‘invasion or conquest of 178 countries’…)
But it’s unpardonably stupid to talk about a ‘crusade’ in anything other than a tone of deliberate sarcasm.
Britain’s (actually England’s) history of bloody invasions, massacres and forced conversions, principally of Muslims in the Middle East, are, to put it mildly, not a helpful metaphor as disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox sets sail on the good ship Brexit.
It’s also probably not the sort of thing Britain’s two million Muslims want to read in their newspapers, or a good way to endear ourselves to Muslim-majority countries in Europe like Bosnia, Kosovo and Turkey.
That the word ‘crusade’ does not appear in the story, and was not used by Fox or anyone else, suggests a rather desperate attempt by a failing newspaper to sell product. It’s depressing to see the Telegraph trying to out do the Daily Express in the field of reaction.
It also follows the Telegraph‘s use of the fascist slogan ‘Britain First’ in a headline during the EU referendum campaign.
Rhetoric of this kind is exactly what we don’t need as Britain decides to ‘go it alone’ and chase a ghost of former ‘greatness’.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.