Addressing crowds at the Edinburgh International Book Fair yesterday (26 Aug), the former Labour Prime Minister called out a growing rise in nationalism across the UK.
Brown agrees with Nicola Sturgeons analysis that a no deal would be terrible for Scotland yet insists things would be only worsened for the nation if it decided to leave the British union as a consequence.
Brown cited the great economic importance of the British market to Scotland and the fact that it is ultimately more valuable than the European one.
He also warned against another independence referendum stating that if Scotland were to become independent it would go through a period of “hyper-austerity”- an austerity much more intense than the one already implemented by the U.K government.
The event focused on his critique of nationalism, Brown explained what George Orwell’s view of nationalism was and how it differed from other political sentiments.
Orwell’s view was that patriotism is love and care of one’s country, a desire to belong to it and be proud of it, whereas nationalism is something driven by power, and it fuels an “us and them” narrative.
He believed an increased sense of nationalism has led to what he calls a “reinterpretation of our history”. For example, Brexiteers who view historic moments like Dunkirk as something purely British while discarding the influence and help of other nations who played their part too.
The most important point Brown tried to reiterate, the one which he claims is his main purpose for coming to the book fair, is the great danger a no deal Brexit poses to the U.K. “A no deal Brexit is an act of self harm”.
Brown would go onto list just some of the possible effects of leaving with no deal such as car manufactures lacking 50% of their materials which are imported from EU countries, or hospitals lacking supplies which are ordered from mainland Europe.
The U.K government would be “dishonest” says Brown if they claim no adverse effects will come from having no deal.
As he was graciously being asked for his signature at the Book Festival, I asked him If there was another referendum on independence, would he lead the Better-Together campaign?
He laughed and said: “I think we would need somebody younger… I’d do my best to help”.