I AM in mourning for my lost European citizenship. For we can no longer fantasise that some unexpected event will derail Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’s intention to exit membership of the European Union on January 31. At that midnight hour, as the world sleeps, Big Ben will chime (if only temporarily) and a Little England awake to its all too brief moment of national self-delusion, before it becomes a satellite of Trumpian America.

A Little England composed of imperial fantasists, misguided elderly northern patriots, scheming hedge fund managers, Tory parliamentary shysters, billionaire media barons, Labour backbenchers frightened of losing their seats and a fractured British electorate scared into thinking that Brussels wants them to eat straight bananas.

Both as a Scot who wants to preserve social democratic values, and as a human being who has enjoyed for 46 years the openness of travel, abode and work in this extraordinary continent, I am dismayed and disheartened to lose my rights as a citizen of a wider Europe for this mirage.

I first became a fully fledged citizen of Europe – or the European Economic Community as it was then – on January 1, 1973. That was the date when the UK formally entered membership of the EEC. At the time, the national mood was anything but euphoric. Britain was in the grip of deep economic decline, battered by competition from US multinationals such as IBM, from a Europe led by a resurgent Germany, and with Japan coming up on the rails.

Joining Europe was seen – even by its supporters – as a desperate last-gasp attempt of a failed, post-imperial state to clamber aboard the European economic juggernaut. As something necessary but at the same time humiliating – a humiliation the Jacob Rees-Moggs of this world have nurtured ever since.

In fact, the humiliation was not felt by the rest of us. Though we didn’t realise it at the time, “joining” Europe was a liberation from empire and from Little Englander pretentions of supposed greatness – meaning the delusion of the English ruling class regarding its alleged superiority over all others, especially if they are a different colour or speak another language. It is fascinating listening to TV interviews of folk explaining they voted Leave so Britain “could be great again”. The imperialist fantasy remains a staple of Tory ideology.

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Back in 1973, the Tories sold entry into the EEC as an escape route from British decline and incipient chaos – blamed on the unions. Entry negotiations were conducted by Edward Heath. He is now seen as a stuffy introvert. Actually, Heath was a tough artillery officer who had blown lots of France and Germany to smithereens in the long slog from Normandy to Berlin. He was convinced Europe needed to co-operate or be squashed between Washington and Moscow.

Today, the pro-European wing of the Tory party represented by Heath, Heseltine and Hammond – essentially supporters of manufacturing industry – has been eclipsed by bankers and hedge fund managers who hate European financial regulation.

For much of the political left – then and now – the European project was seen as a plot by big manufacturing capital to create a market protected from the Americans and Asia, in which local firms could grow to global size and efficiency (and make super profits). The EEC was characterised as a charter for piratical European multinationals.

This is where I tell you that back in 1975 – when the Labour government of Harold Wilson finessed its own internal wrangles over EEC membership by holding a referendum – I voted No to European entry. As a youthful leftist, I saw Brussels as the bureaucratic enemy. But the course of history has made a simplistic rejection of European institutions less tenable today. True, the EU remains at heart a project driven by large German and French capital to create a defensive shield against US and now Chinese competition – chiefly by protecting large European companies and exploiting an increasingly immigrant work force.

The National: When the Labour government of Harold Wilson nationalised all UK steelmaking in 1967, a consequence was a much watered-down plan for Scottish steel

In France, the Macron government has been using all sorts of skulduggery to stop London-based hedge funds from breaking up woefully inefficient French conglomerates. At the same time, Macron has proposed swingeing cuts to employee benefits, including raising the pension age.

But Europe is not reducible to a theatrical caricature of a pantomime bad guy. Living political reality is more complex, more contradictory than branding Brussels as a villain. The institutions, treaties, laws and policies that make up Europe have evolved over the past 70 years. They have done so as a result of massive, internal social and political conflicts between, on the one hand, Europe’s workers, farmers and small producers; and on the other hand, the Brussels bureaucracy and the big manufacturers. Capital has not been defeated but it has been forced to make concessions. These democratic concessions are worth defending.

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That is why we have an elected European Parliament. That is why the EU has been forced to implement significant environmental legislation. That is why there is a Charter of Fundamental Rights – now expunged from British law under the Brexit withdrawal agreement passed last Friday, excising key European protections regarding fair working conditions, unjustified dismissal, minimum paid holidays, statutory working hours and equal pay.

That, not the machinations of the European Commission, represents a real defeat for Scottish and British working people.

Those on the left who support Brexit on the supposed grounds it deals a blow against the multinationals are blinding themselves to the fact they have implicitly (if unwittingly) facilitated a historic political victory for Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the billionaire hedge fund managers who finance them. And for all the racist scum who used Brexit and immigration as a front to mobilise popular support on their behalf.

Then there is another blinkered souls, a certain Jeremy Corbyn, whose insane plan to stay “equidistant” between Leave and Remain lost Labour two-and-a-half million voters on December 12 – most of whom stayed at home or wasted their ballot papers on the LibDems.

There are those on the left who argue that by rejecting the outcome of the 2016 referendum we implicitly alienated working-class Leave voters, handing them over to the populist right. But a majority of the employed working class voted Remain in 2016. If it was possible to create a Remain majority in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it was certainly possible in England and Wales. But Labour did not even try.

To vote Remain was not a vote in favour of the Europe of the multinationals. Rather, it was an expression of support for a different kind of continent. Of support for open borders, a community of different peoples, of freedom to live and work where you chose, of a common front in favour of human rights, and for a clean environment.

Above all, the European project has – of course, only in part – championed and pre-figured the sort of internationalism the left always claims as its own, but mostly fails to deliver.

So now my passport will change from a pan-European, radical red to a peely-wally Tory blue. I am no longer formally a European in law, merely in aspiration. Unless of course, we Scots decide to make our own history again and rejoin the European mainstream. Venceremos!