We are all ‘Grimbarians’ now

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The Dock Offices, Grimsby – Source: David Wright on Wikimedia

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Lia Nici MP before her tweet regarding Queen and flag brought her to some prominence recently.

So, I checked her Twitter profile and found that she represents the constituency of Leave-voting Grimsby and describes herself as a proud Grimbarian. Now, forgive my ignorance but I didn’t know that Grimbarian was the collective noun for people from that great fishing port. But I like it, because not only is it a great word, but it also seems to me, to sum up our Brexit-ravaged country right now. So, although I’m a Devonian by birth and a Bathonian by residence, I have also become, whether I like it or not, a Grimbarian too.

In her tweet Lia suggested that those who aren’t proud to be British or proud of the Queen and the flag could move somewhere else if they prefer. God forbid that I would have ever make such a foolish decision but if, for example, I temporarily lost my mind, and decided to leave old Blighty, my preferred option would be one of the twenty-seven EU countries right on our doorstep. However, as a new Grimbarian (compulsory citizenship granted January 31st, 2020) that option was taken away by Lia and the other champions of individual liberty in the Conservative party, when they brought an end to freedom of movement. Lia says that no countries are closed to us and we can become a citizen of any country we like. The thing is, I didn’t have to become a citizen of one of the EU countries because my EU passport automatically gave me citizenship while in no way depriving me of my beloved nationality. Of course, I can still move to Spain, for example, if I want, it’s just become a lot harder. A hell of a lot harder. I would now have jump through numerous legal and financial hoops should I want to consider such a ridiculous move.

The EU was my usual preference for a holiday too. How good it was to just hop on the Eurostar and go, with hardly a glance at my passport. I didn’t need to worry about the amount of money I had to take. I didn’t have to buy expensive insurance or worry about mobile phone roaming charges. I didn’t have to worry about medical costs should I get ill. However, I am now a Grimbarian, so I must remember that losing this preference is really for my own good. I just need to accept this loss of freedom with good grace and stop moaning. Get over it. Sorry Lia.

It’s just that I can’t stop thinking about preferences we all used to have. How about the preferences of students? They used to be able to exercise a preference to study in one of twenty-seven different countries under the Erasmus scheme, a scheme our Prime Minister previously promised wouldn’t be scrapped. Then scrapped it. Sorry students but this is Grimbaria where our leader’s promises can be unashamedly broken, and anyway, why would you want to explore the continent right on your doorstep with the myriad languages, cultures and customs therein? Fear not, for now we have the Turing scheme; a reminder not just of a great codebreaker, but of World War Two – which of course is permanently with us here in Grimbaria. Lia is a great advocate of the scheme. It’s a global scheme she tells us, but in reality ‘global’ means English-speaking, so studying in the US or Australia or some other Anglophone country is more likely. So not much use to language students. Also, the scheme won’t pay tuition fees as there is no reciprocal arrangement for students from foreign universities to come to UK universities. No need to worry, Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, says universities abroad will waive fees because they will arrange partnerships with universities here. It all sounds a bit vague, like a lot of things connected with Brexit, but this is Grimbaria where everything is based on blind faith and the notion that somehow everything will be alright in the end, even if it patently won’t be. Young Grimbarians need to be re-educated anyway. They really need to shake off any remaining irksome European identity issues.

Professional musicians used to have a preference too. They used to have the preference of touring in Europe, for many it made up a sizeable chunk of their income. They love our music in Europe, so they offered a standard proposal to exempt our performers from bureaucratic costs for 90 days. The trouble was, that sounded dangerously like freedom of movement and as we know, we just can’t have that sort of thing in Grimbaria. So, let’s ignore that offer from the EU, in fact let’s go further than that and blame the whole thing on them. That’s the great thing about Grimbaria, you just blame someone else for any of your problems, preferably the EU. So, all of you newly inducted Grimbarian musicians, that freedom of movement and revenue stream is denied to you. I mean, let’s be fair, if we give in to the musicians, who’s next? Actors, sports people and God forbid, ordinary members of Grimbaria? No, a line has to be drawn and in Grimbaria it’s all about drawing lines and marking borders.

Sorry to bang on about preferences, Lia, but thousands of businesses also had the preference of trading easily with our near neighbours. It was really working rather well. Frictionless trade meant access to a market worth around 15 trillion Euros. Businesses enjoyed the swift transport of goods bringing with it all the benefits of just-in-time deliveries. Goods from all corners of the UK were hurtling over borders to all corners of Europe. Even better we didn’t have to join the Euro, we didn’t have to join the Schengen Agreement, we even got a rebate on our contributions! But as Penny Mordaunt MP, said recently, that would have meant aligning with the EU and that is price she was not prepared to pay. Sorry business, that’s actually the price that you will have to pay, thanks to the Conservatives, once the party of business and now the party of anti-business.

Ironically few businesses are paying the price more than Britain’s fishing industry. Suddenly we see how important that European market was and how important it was to be able to transport a perishable commodity like fish quickly into lucrative continental markets. Now faced with red tape (that was supposed to disappear with Brexit) and more documentation and border delays many businesses are not just struggling, but actually facing extinction.

Despite the fanatical obsession with the Union flag (how long before every household is ordered to fly it?) Brexit will eventually render it obsolete. Once the Scots have gone independent and Northern Ireland has decided it’s just makes more sense to merge with the Republic of Ireland, all that will be left will be the Leave rump of England and Wales. The Union flag just won’t make sense, so we’ll have to come up with a new one. Perhaps the cross of St George, with a Welsh dragon in the middle, a smoking gun in one corner and a foot with a bullet hole in it in the other. Just an idea.

And with the best will in the world, we really can’t refer to our country as the United Kingdom, Great Britain or even Britain. Not when it’s going to be an uneasy partnership between two small countries. No, we’re going to need a new name, and why not ‘Grimbaria’?

So let us embrace Grimbaria, where happy Grimbarian fish leap gratefully into Grimbarian nets before rotting in a lorry somewhere outside Calais. The country where we talk of the ‘Brexit bounce’ while ignoring the fact that someone let the air out of the ball. A plucky country too big for its boots, pretending we are now independent when we’re really isolated. A country where Grimbarian ships set sail to the four corners of the globe, a great trading nation once more.

Our enterprising vessels cutting through the waves to trade with our new partners in Indo-Pacific region. Sure, they are inconveniently situated on the other side of the world, but they are ‘emerging’. We’ll just conveniently forget that an ‘emerging economy’ actually means a small economy. But we can ignore that fact like we ignore so many others here in Grimbaria. We’ll just convince ourselves that it really won’t be a problem to send perishable goods, or sell expensive services to smaller, poorer countries on the other side of the world, while ignoring that massive market very close to us. A market that used to rather enjoy our products before we made it harder for them to buy them from us. I mean Goddamn them for treating us like a third country just because we left. Don’t they know who they’re dealing with? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, we don’t need to face the truth anymore, we can just hear what we want to hear. Even better if it’s someone with a posh voice telling us everything is just fine. We Grimbarians prefer that. It’s somehow reassuring.

Of course, there’ll be teething problems, and maybe they’ll go on for some time and perhaps they will go from a slight toothache to full-on root canal surgery. But we like to grin and bear it in Grimbaria. We can take a bit of pain, we like to suffer, we like a good moan. We revel in grimness. So come fellow Grimbarians, let’s climb those sunny uplands as old Spitfires chug above us belching out acrid smoke, and church bells ring out hollow peels of triumph across our broken nation.

Sure, we’ve lost our freedom to travel, work and live in twenty-seven neighbouring countries. Sure, our economy is shrinking, and businesses are going bust but look at those Tory blue skies, new passport blue skies, Twitter logo blue skies. Everything is going to be just great in Grimbaria, and we’ll settle for something worse because perversely, it seems to make us feel better.
Apparently, it’s what we prefer.

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