December 23, 2018 Tas Britas

Lithuanians elected me because I’m British. What now, Theresa?

Hello Prime Minister, I hope you’re having a lovely day. I’m writing to you on an airplane above Ukraine, flying to my home in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

I am British, I was born on the same island as you and I hold the same, red, passport. I will be using it to fly to Bristol for Christmas with my British parents. Travelling with me will be my partner Jelena and her parents Vlad and Ina. Perhaps this little story of family joy and international love will warm your heart in these difficult Brexit times as you attempt to “take back control” from Jelena, Vlad and Ina, to stop them diluting your sovereignty, to free yourself from the constraints of their ridiculous human rights laws.

My choice to move east was inspired by watching the fall of the Berlin Wall on the BBC when I was a child. This is going to sound a bit silly, but since 2004 I have pretty much dedicated my life to helping Lithuania integrate into the EU. Prince Philip even gave me an award for it.

Excuse me for interrupting, but I’m awfully sorry to have to inform you that I’m a teensy bit upset that you’re working so hard to flush all this down the toilet.

My Britishness has been a great asset in my work, until now.

My Britishness used to mean honesty, reliability, creativity and common sense. Continentals used to lovingly joke with me about teadrinking and umbrellas and two taps and fog and warm beer and saying “sorry” when someone treads on your foot and it’s clearly not your fault but you say “sorry” anyway, because you’re British.

When, at the invitation of a group of young musicians, I arrived in Lithuania one day before her accession to the EU, the music I brought with me was considered to be cool by default, because it came from Britannia, which, at the time, was cool.

In fact, I didn’t need to bring any music with me, because they had already hungrily downloaded thousands of megabytes of it. They owned more British tunes than I did.

Their parents had lived behind the iron curtain, dreaming of our unreachable green and pleasant land, home of Big Ben, democracy and the Beatles. They were praying for their children to be able to grow up in an independent Lithuania, in a united and peaceful Europe, free to travel, work, live and love wherever their hearts led them.

Lithuanians died for that dream, either in Siberia or in their own invaded and occupied streets, crushed by tanks driven by drunken Red Army conscripts. You, Farage and Rees-Mogg have never had to stop tanks with your own bodies, have you?

Please consider the possibility that you are being a bit hasty about abandoning the European Project that has, for all its flaws, reduced the number of citizens crushed by tanks to zero.

When people asked where I am from and I said “UK”, they would always show me extra respect for that, or even jealousy. They would proudly tell me they had been to London or excitedly inform me that they wanted to go there as soon as possible. I probably wouldn’t get that reaction if I said “France”.

Her Majesty’s government, many years ago, voluntarily, before any oppressive EU diktat compelled Her Majesty’s government to do so, began to welcome Lithuanians visa-free to join the British workforce and help build the British economy. That’s another reason they love us. Or should I say – loved us. Now they’re feeling ever-so-slightly betrayed.

Despite their deep and passionate love for their own country, they would screw up their faces in disbelief when I told them I’m an immigrant from Britain, because who the hell would voluntarily leave the Greatest Country In The History Of The World?

Who would want to live in Vilnius, a small city working through the difficult process of repairing the material and psychological damage caused by decades of occupation, oppression and decay?

What kind of idiot would choose to live in Lithuania if he was born where the streets are paved with gold?

Lithuanians really thought that we, the British, were special. Something to aspire to. Something to imitate. A shining beacon of properness to lead the way out of the darkness of post-soviet corruption and disorder. A source of really good dance music.

In a very short time, you, Theresa, have shown them and the whole world that only one of those things was ever true. I am referring, of course, to the dance music.

The British brand was a priceless asset for me. It opened doors for me. It was like a pleasing aura that would earn people’s trust in me before I even started to speak.

“This is Mark,” people would say, “he’s British”. And I would be very happy for people to define me that way.

In turn, I have been a pretty good asset for Britain. My nickname in Lithuanian literally means “that British guy”. I’m invited by the Lithuanian media to comment on British things. I give interviews and speeches in fluent Lithuanian, a language I learnt for the purposes of strengthening the cultural and economc links between our two countries.

I’ve made business connections that your Treasury profits from. I’ve boosted the brand you destroyed. I’ve pumped Bristol and London’s finest audio produce into Lithuanian ears countless times in clubs and bars all over the country. I promoted Croydon’s repetoire so much that I became known as the Father of Dubstep, and I’ve discovered local talent that my British investor develops with his British company.

By 2015, I had gained the trust of the natives enough for them to vote me onto the Council of their capital city.

I became the first non-citizen elected to public office in Lithuania and I proudly swore to defend the Constitution of the Republic. Some of those who voted for me did so purely on the assumption that a Brit, born in the Land of Democracy, would be a better bet than a homegrown candidate. The power of the British brand was that strong.

My darling Jelena, for her part, has worked her way into an international filmmaking career, helping British companies to produce shows for that same BBC that presented the fall of the Berlin Wall to my astonished eyes all those years ago.

Since you chucked Sterling onto the bonfire of weakness and instability, her earnings are worth a bit less, but we get by.

Vlad and Ina spend most of their free time travelling to as many countries as possible, a possibility denied to them in Soviet times, now granted to them by EU citizenship. The vigour with which liberated Eastern Europeans exercise this right should tell you something about how fundamentally important it is to the soul of all humans, and how psychologically damaging isolation can be.

Do you see why I find it a tadge frustrating that you treat a Kremlin-financed advisory referendum as if it is an order from God to bin everything me and millions of other people have been doing for decades?

Can you comprehend why your ridiculous refusal to perform the obviously-needed U-turn makes me a wee bit tetchy?

Can you imagine the consternation and discombobulation caused over here by the spectacle of the Mother of All Parliaments arguing about the best way to leave the biggest trading bloc in the universe to develop closer trade links with… someone smaller?

You were dreaming of becoming the next Margaret Thatcher and you grabbed the chance as soon as it drifted past. You screamed “Brexit means Brexit”, cast off your Remain skin and immediately proceeded to make Brexit mean dog’s breakfast.

You thought it was going to be a bit more glorious than this, didn’t you.

You thought it was going to be like that time the Royal Navy came back from the Falklands.

Didn’t you.

Or maybe you knew it was going to be a disaster but the temptation of living in the same flat as Her Handbagness for a couple of years was just too great.

Now you’re reduced to insisting that, due to the enormous importance of respect for the advice of less than half of the British population, you have no choice but to plough ahead with the worst tactical error, to quote the late Capt. Edmund Blackadder, “since the Olaf the Hairy, High Chief of all the Vikings, accidentally ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside.”

You know it’s a mistake. You’re simply insisting it’s other people’s mistake, the correction of which is beyond your powers, the mistake having been made by the Great British people of Great Britain, thereby converting this stupid and unworkable idea into a wise and irrevocable order.

The suffering you are knowingly inflicting is justified, you say, because the people voted to suffer. So goes the “logic”. The fact that they actually voted for xenophobia and an imaginary £350mln is being quietly swept under the carpet as it turns out the only thing you can really deliver is the xenophobia.

Some of your party members are taking this one step further, suggesting, as did Hitler, that suffering and struggle is the essential component of a nation’s ascendancy to greatness, the forge in which the swords of supremacy are made, the filter through which the weak and undeserving shall not pass.

You have declared me to be a citizen of nowhere and my fiancée to be a queue-jumper.

Are you not feeling a little uncomfortable about the fact that quasi-nazi rhetoric is becoming the norm? Would Winston approve? Would Margaret applaud?

You cannot envisage or describe a scenario in which Britain is better off outside the EU, but that’s where you insist on driving us, even though you could turn the bus around.

Your “bravery” is cowardice. Continuing down this ridiculous road is easier for you than bravely admitting that 52% of the voters in the referendum were duped into choosing badly.

So, my dear Mrs May, while you plan troop deployments and emergency medical supplies, please spare a few minutes to consider cancelling this nonsense and apologising to me, Jelena, Vlad, Ina and the rest of the world. We will accept your apology gracefully and move on.

Time is running out, but it’s still not too late to take a deep breath, say sorry for the mess you’ve made, grab a broom and start cleaning it up.

That would be the British thing to do.