The British Empire has its foundation in overseas possessions ‘claimed’ for, and trading posts set up by England in the 17th century. From the 1707 Act of Union onwards the empire was expanded, reaching its maximum extent in 1922. It covered almost a quarter of the land mass of our planet and encompassed almost a quarter of its population. It was the largest empire in history.

In the twentieth century, almost all of the dominions, colonies, protectorates and mandates the UK colonised, invaded or otherwise accquired have gone their own way. By negotiation or proclamation, they have gained their independence.

To imagine that the United Kingdom of 2017 could ever rebuild or reclaim such a staggeringly, shockingly large empire is either laughable, offensive, or both. Similarly laughable and offensive is the idea that to leave such a backwards-looking country as the UK would be somehow foolish or unprecedented. In the past century alone, sixty-four countries have managed to do so. Not all of them negotiated their independence with the UK Government and not all of them had an optimistic outlook for their future. Yet they got their independence and not one has sought to be re-admitted to the empire.

A country looking to and living in the past, will never see the future coming. A Scottish lifeboat heading with surety towards the horizon, is better than a British frigate sailing merrily towards the unseen edge of a flat earth sea.