Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Is Britain Really Going to Leave?’:
“Is Britain really going to leave?” This is the question put to Boris Johnson from people around the world, the former foreign minister informed the House of Commons last night, during debate on the Government’s proposal to withdraw from the European Union.
“Do we really have the courage and the self-belief to deliver what people voted for?” Mr. Johnson pressed. “And to seize the opportunities? Independent, democratic self-government? Real free trade deals?” Will a liberated Britain have the foresight to institute a tax and regulatory regime that incentivizes entrepreneurs and investment, domestic and foreign, based on “laws made in this country and not in Brussels?
“Are we really going to embrace that future?” BoJo asked.
Mr. Johnson is not alone in putting this rhetorical question before his fellow MPs. G.K. Chesterton raised it more than a century ago. Britons, Chesterton wrote, enjoy “a lonely taste in liberty” that “perplex their critics and perplex themselves.” As the United Kingdom grapples with the fate of Brexit, this latest iteration of perplexity is played out before us.
Magna Carta, the charter in which medieval barons exerted their rights against King John, is considered the benchmark of liberty in Britain. “Magna Carta is the greatest constitutional document of all times,” senior judge Lord Denning opined, “the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”
Margaret Thatcher was all in. To a Parisian interviewer who asked during the bicentenary of the Fall of the Bastille, “Are human rights a French invention?,” she replied trenchantly, “No, of course they are not.” The Iron Lady’s riposte to Gallic chauvinism? “We had Magna Carta 1215.”
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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.