Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

The first time the sound of something made me physically ill occurred in Holland recently. I was in a medieval (read: rubbish) saloon when it slapped me; I found the culprit immediately — a bald, sweaty Dutchman sitting behind two keyboards who grunted and hissed into a microphone like he was smoking asbestos-flavoured cigarettes at the same time as singing.

It was instantly offensive and made so much worse by the arrival of a dancing Englishman, north of 75, who had apparently been living in the town for 17 years but had not bothered to learn the language, gets wrecked at home so he does not have to buy any booze then staggers up the hill to start thrusting his hips in seated patron’s faces.

I escaped but got lost and ended up accidentally walking into Germany.

The radioactive Dutch singing would not leave me: "Note to Chief of SANDF Gen Solly Shoke SBS MMS" I typed into my reminders, "please stop buggering around with that submarine that you keep crashing into the seabed in False Bay and rather drop it on this bar with following coordinates and make sure that bald bastard is inside when you do thanks."

Soon it will have been a year since the British voted to leave the EU and I’m not the only one sickened by sounds emerging from Western Europe.

It has been a shambolic year for hardened Remain voters. A poll (although you trust these things at your peril) now suggests that 26% of the 48% who voted to stay have abandoned ship, leaving the fanatics, among whom include Tony Blair, in the unflattering position of occupying less than a quarter of the electorate.

But it has not been a particularly successful year for the leadership of the Leave campaign either, which dismantled in summer last year, thrusting some of its officials into obscurity.

The greatest failure of this group was to allow the extremists such a considerable part of the motivation. These people, incapable of understanding the legitimate economic argument against Brussels, turned to blunt populism, and in doing so, alienated hard-working young southern and eastern Europeans occupying positions in the capital the English clearly do not fancy.

Yet as abhorrent as this was, it pales in comparison to the failures of the Remain campaign, chief among which was the inability to demonstrate to Britain that credibility (or even a shred thereof) exists in the leadership of the EU. Above all, it reveals the Remainers have a tenuous grasp of their own history.

Britain’s national identity is formed of a profound sense of civic duty and an inability to understand that one is born with things called teeth that should ideally be straightened if skew, or looked after at the very least.

It is also formed of a dual, acute suspicion of foreigners and authority, and it is the spirit of the latter that brought about one of the most controversial incidents in British politics — the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009.

There were two cases within the scandal that summarised the impunity of the political class; then home secretary Jacqui Smith’s husband, Richard, ordered Pay TV porn at the taxpayer’s expense, and while he was doing so, a man called Douglas Hogg claimed cleaning costs for the moat around his country pile.

The enraged manner in which British electorate reacted illustrated authority is only a state suspended between transparency and criminality. And this is the problem with the EU: structurally, it is so opaque any remotely suspicious person would inevitably be confused into contempt.

Those on the right side of the Leave vote saw, in Brussels, the same impunity in allowances and pensions of people whose appointments appeared impossible to explain.

In 2015, I asked the ordinarily jovial boss of a prominent London think-tank whether reports were true that Jean-Claude Junker drinks brandy for breakfast.

His mood changed immediately. "That drunk," the man scowled, "is not funny at all."

Now the British prime minister is virtually guaranteed victory in the June election; a strengthened Brexit mandate will establish the intent for the negotiations, and I back British stagecraft to succeed, despite the whimpering threats from people such as Blair or the desperately irrelevant Liberal Democrats.

I am not British, but the year has revealed the vote of June 2016 was largely an expression of loyalty to conscience. And if Brexit means evading vomiting by Dutch karaoke, well, bloody smart move.

• Reader works for an energy investment and political advisory firm.

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