Easy – if sloppy - thinking denigrates a nation’s achievements. “We’re the sick man of Europe… It will never be the same again…. We’re a third-rate nation now…” You know the kind of thing. There’s always some old bore at the end of the bar mumbling about it.
Yet this week we have really started to show our colours on the world’s stage. Everyone seems to agree that the G7 meeting in Cornwall was a great success- from a social, diplomatic and even Cornish standpoint. The PM and Carrie had real status amongst the world’s leaders, and we should be proud of them. That President Biden took time to stop off at Windsor Castle to celebrate the Queen’s 95th birthday is a mark of great respect (although why he thought it diplomatic to liken HM to his Mother is anyone’s guess.) We took our place at the NATO Summit proud of being the second largest member after the US, and the only Nation in the world who until now has paid 2% of GDP on defence and 0.7% on overseas aid. (At 0.5% we are still the fourth largest donor in the world.)
Despite the sad necessity of extending Lockdown until 19 July, we can still be proud of leading the world in our vaccine programme (which would simply not have happened had we still been a member of the EU); only as a result of beginning to beat the disease here can we now look to providing the world with this British-invented and (largely) manufactured vaccine. And I was so glad to see our world-beating Oxford scientists being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Meanwhile we should celebrate the fact that the Free Trade Agreement with Australia is the seventieth we have so far agreed (and the first negotiated from scratch) post-Brexit, the total value of the trade being about £1.4 Trillion. We are once again becoming a great trading nation in our own right, and we should be proud of it. There’s a long way to go, of course, and many a wrinkle to be smoothed out, starting with Northern Irish sausages. How dare President Macron seek to describe Ulster as a separate country from the UK? It’s as much a part of the UK as Brittany (despite its name) is a part of France.
All of these events and more mean that we are able to stand proud alongside the greatest nations in the world. We are the masters of our own destiny. We control our own currency and economy; we make our own rules. We are freeing ourselves of the shackles of European bureaucracy, leaving behind the mediocrity, the lowest common denominator which the EU is forced to be.
We now have our moment in history - once again to be a true International Leader. So let’s cast aside the habitual British syndrome of ‘doing ourselves down’. No-one admires false modesty. Let’s salute these great early achievements; and thank and congratulate the ministers who are achieving them.
Britain must once again be Great.