Britain after Brexit: A mixture of Merrie England, Toytown and Singapore

Julian Barnes wrote a wonderful LRB Diary piece about Brexit. I particularly liked this passage:

And what is the Brexiteers’ vision of our future, purified nation? It seems to be a mixture of Merrie England, Toytown and Singapore. Outward-looking in the sense of ‘open for business’, which tends to mean ‘up for sale’. Inward-looking in other senses. Morally depleted by cutting ourselves off from Europe and sheltering beneath Trump’s fragrant armpit. What might we end up as? Perhaps a kind of Bigger Belgium with quasi-American values – also, as Belgium might be, torn into separate nations again. Do we seriously think that those who voted for Brexit are going to be better off under this state-shrinking government? (I can’t recall the slogan ‘Poorer but Happier’ being used.) That the NHS will be properly funded? That the increasing numbers on zero-hours will not be exploited further? That the old winners will be the new, even bigger winners? Do we seriously believe that Mrs May will construct ‘a country that works for everyone’? To the pieties of our current political elite, I much prefer the old Portuguese proverb: ‘If shit were valuable, the poor would be born without arses.’