Remember When? A Brexit Memory Folder

Mike Small
4 min readApr 2, 2019


“In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.” (Orwell, 1954)

As fantasy and delusion clouds British politics like a miasma it’s important to cling onto what we used to call “facts” before they disappear down the Memory Hole.

Remember when we used to be told that an independent Scotland would never be allowed into the EU? Remember when we were told that constitutional politics was a distraction?

In February of this year Elmar Brok, a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party, who has been an MEP since 1980 claimed that Scotland’s entry into the EU if it voted to leave the UK would be ‘easy’:

Politicians like Salmond and Sturgeon needed to “get on with the day job” and not be distracted with lofty issues like sovereignty that no-one was really interested in. People were only interested in “bread and butter” issues like jobs and the economy.

Remember when Britain was put forward as a beacon of stability, the “Mother of All Parliaments”, the source of all that is solid in an ever-changing world?

Britain has been — and will be — consumed by the Brexit process, an obsession with sovereignty based on England’s grievance culture and huge chip-on-its-shoulder despite decades of European opt-outs and special treatment and connivance with a weird sense of exceptionalism.

“You don’t move house in a hurricane” I think was the phrase that was coined.

Remember when people arguing for self-determination for Scotland were dubbed “separatists”?

Now Britain and the House of Commons is an international laughing stock.

Scotland voted 62–38% to stay in the EU and has been arguing for a different immigration and asylum policy (across both Labour and SNP governments at Holyrood) for years.

The language about being a ‘vassal state’ and the level of vitriol against European countries and institutions and to EU nationals has been incredible.

Remember when Britain was put forward as a place of harmony and internationalism? Scottish nationalism was a toxic influence and British nationalism simply didn’t exist”?

The requirement for England/Britain to be “separate” is in stark contrast to the Yes movements vision of Scotland as a contemporary European country, part of Europe and with a progressive immigration and asylum policy.

Now we have abuse of journalists doing their jobs, wall to wall tabloid frenzy, a huge rise in racism and xenophobia and the mainstreaming of far right ideology and discourse.

Remember when Britain was described as a “Family of Nations” and a “Partnership of Equals”?

The public sphere of Brexit Britain has become a toxic dump curated by the tabloid press and overseen by a wave of propaganda, dark money and corruption.

As well as Scotland being treated with complete contempt throughout the Brexit negotiations we have now seen Scottish MPs like Ian Blackford branded a “traitor” and Joanna Cherry told to go back to her “own country” outside the Houses of Parliament.

On March 29 heavily armed police were stationed outside of Parliament, where the Make Brexit Happen rally — organised by EDL co-founder Tommy Robinson and Ukip leader Gerard Batten — took place. Staff were advised to leave the building for their own safety.

Remember when we were told that independence would cause “economic uncertainty”?

The treatment of Northern Ireland mirrors that of Scotland.

Now Theresa May seems willing to gamble with the UK economy in order to save the precious Union. Her reasoning behind rejecting the Nick Boles was very revealing:

…PM had another objection to Nick Boles idea which rang true even to some Remain Tories: it could threaten integrity of UK. PM feared that if UK stayed in single market through EFTA pillar of EEA that could increase support for Scottish independence…

- Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) April 1, 2019

….SNP would argue in an independence referendum: vote Yes to be fully in EU while maintaining full access to UK market because UK would be in single market….

- Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) April 1, 2019

….PM believes that at a stroke the Boles plan would have destroyed main pro-UK argument in a Scottish independence referendum: stay in UK as the only way to maintain full access to Scotland’s largest market in rest of UK

- Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) April 1, 2019

Is that Strong and Stable or Pooling and Sharing? I’m getting confused.


Suggestions for your own additions to the ‘Remember When?’ entries welcome.

Originally published at on April 2, 2019.



Mike Small

Venture Communism | Degrowth | Twilight Sci-fi | Generalism