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Stop bashing “dear old Blighty”

The Chiltern hills at dawn: not a needle in sight. Getty

Ever since we dared to vote for Brexit six years ago, says Andrew Neil in the Daily Mail, The New York Times has regularly depicted Britain as a “plague-ridden, poverty-stricken hellhole in terminal decline”. The paper specialises in “gory endings” for dear old Blighty: last month, it reported that the UK was melting. The month before, it said we were “sinking into the sea”. Some unknown British Marxist was at it again this week, complaining on the paper’s front page that Brexit had left us “economically stagnant, socially fragmented and politically adrift”.

Hang on. The major Western economy that’s gone “stagnant” is not Britain but America, which has effectively been in recession for the whole of this year. The US is in the grip of a “ferocious crime wave”: San Francisco and Los Angeles are hotbeds of “open-air drug abuse, aggressive shoplifting and homeless encampments”. The sense of social breakdown is palpable, which is why Americans are buying guns in record numbers. And “politically adrift”? Washington is dominated by a “Democratic gerontocracy” and a Republican Party preparing to challenge – perhaps violently – the outcome of the next election. Britain’s politics are “positively genteel” in comparison: Boris Johnson is packing his bags because his MPs told him to, “without social unrest or gunfire”. Dictatorships are on the march from Moscow to Beijing. Yet America’s greatest newspaper prefers to “beat up on Brexit Britain”.