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The Suicide and Conquest of Britain Revisited – The Australian Quadrant – 04.03.23

by David Martin Jones

What, wretched man… is it given to you…to keep the charge committed to you against such a series of inveterate crimes which has spread far and wide, without interruption, for so many years?[1]

The mid-sixth century Welsh monk, Gildas Sapiens (Gildas the Wise), asked himself this question as he observed the descent of Roman Britain into barbarism. Gildas wrote his De Excidio et Conquestu Brittaniae (The Suicide and Conquest of Britain) as both a warning to posterity and an explanation of how a once wealthy, civilized, Roman province declined into what historians once referred to as the Dark Ages.

Given the current divided and depressed state of post-Brexit Britain, Gildas’ commentary on how and why Roman Britain disintegrated is perhaps worth recalling. The problem Gildas identified in the mid-sixth century, which also besets the UK today, was the growing separation of the isles into divided ‘nations’ and the threat to its integrity unlimited migration from Europe posed. Over a period of half a century, Gildas argued, migration turned into an invasion that fundamentally transformed the British Isles, and not for the better. [2]

If Gildas returned today he would be alarmed, but not entirely surprised, to learn that official figures show more than 10 million people living in the UK were born overseas. In the year 2022 alone the UK attracted more than half a million migrants, more than twice the number entering the country the previous year.[3] In the same year, some 40,000 illegal migrants from Albania and Afghanistan arrived from France, often on water taxis organized by criminal gangs.[4] Somewhat predictably, The Financial Times deemed the problem insoluble.[5] Interestingly, this was a conclusion that Gildas’ more complacent contemporaries also reached fifteen hundred years earlier in response to the godless hordes entering the country from the south east.

Unlike the sixth century experience, when successive home secretaries have actually proposed the Rwandan solution to assess refugee claims, they incurred the wrath of the Financial Times, Human Rights lawyers, NGO’s and the European Court of Humans Rights. The Abbott government’s successful Australian policy for offshore processing asylum seekers clearly influenced British conservative thinking.

Yet, when in November 2022 the home secretary, Suella Braverman, described the number of illegal arrivals an ‘invasion of our southern coast’ she invoked ubiquitous progressive opprobrium. The Archbishop of Canterbury, captured the prevailing woke orthodoxy, denouncing Braverman’s rhetoric as ‘shrill’, ‘immoral’ and ‘disgraceful’. Treating migrants as ‘invaders’ to be deterred, he continued, denied them both ‘dignity’ and ‘value’ as fellow human beings[6].

However, given that millions of migrants have descended upon these shores in the space of a decade ‘invasion’ might indeed be the noun that best captures current reality. Welby’s sixth century Celtic church predecessor would certainly have thought so. Yet. for Welby, the mainstream media, and academic and business elites this invasion should, in any case, be welcomed as a positive contribution to indigenous population decline, not a cause of existential concern.

Yet it is daily evident that current levels of migration place unwarranted pressure on already stressed health and social services, housing and education, as well as what were once regarded as traditional British values. In other words, contra Archbishop Welby and the progressive establishment, we should perhaps be far less indifferent to the profound change two decades of open borders have had upon a British way of life and self-understanding. Once large-scale migration begins it becomes a self-reinforcing process. “If there is a single ‘law in migration,” Myron Weiner wrote in the 1990s, “it is that a migration flow, once begun, induces its own flow.

Migrants enable their friends and relatives back home to migrate by providing them with information about how to migrate, resources to facilitate movement, and assistance in finding jobs and housing.”[7] As Samuel Huntington observed in his prescient The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) Europe and the UK experienced an evolving post-Cold War migration crisis partly because of these unregulated flows, but also because migrants from different cultures fail to integrate into Western civilization.[8]

By the early twenty first century, two-thirds of migrants in Europe were Muslim, and European concern with immigration is, above all, concern with Muslim migration and integration. The challenge is both demographic and cultural. Sustained immigration produces divided communities. Moreover, as culture assumes increasing salience in an identity obsessed post-Cold War disorder, formerly monocultural European societies have become ‘cleft’. In a cleft country, Huntington tells us, minority groups and their host country find that ‘the forces of repul­sion drive them apart and they gravitate toward civilizational magnets in other societies’. [9]

Unlike mainland Europe, the UK has not had to cope with either unregulated migration or an ‘invasion’ until the last decade of the twentieth century. Ironically, Brexit has only exacerbated the problem. Whilst European countries endured a history of internal and external war, invasion and conquest, the United Kingdom, as an island once preserved by a silver sea, ‘which serves it in the office as a wall, or as in a moat defensive to a house’[10] had always controlled its borders. Its defensive moat repelled foreign invaders from the Spanish Armada in the sixteenth century, to Napoleon in the nineteenth and the Third Reich in the twentieth century. All found the island fortress and its naval defences impregnable. The last successful conquest of Britain was that undertaken by William the Conqueror in 1066 which over time imposed a new Norman elite upon most of the British Isles.

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The Suicide and Conquest of Britain Revisited – by David Martin Jones for The Australian Q
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