The Tudors and Brexit

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The dilemma facing Theresa May as she seeks to negotiate Brexit has interesting parallels with the religious question confronting Queen Elizabeth I when she came to the throne. In my recent book, Tudor Kings and Queens, I wrote:

 

Privately, Elizabeth was a Protestant, but with Catholic overtones. For example, she wore a crucifix and was never very keen on Protestant-style sermons. In terms of public policy, she was determined to find a pragmatic solution to the religious question. Her aim was to make England a Protestant nation, but in a way that would not alienate Catholics too greatly. The most conservative Catholics, she knew, would never accept anything she did, as they regarded her rule as illegitimate, and she did not even try to appease them. Neither did she take account of the reformist ideas of radical Protestants, known as Puritans. Instead, she tried to forge a settlement that would appeal to the large majority of moderates in both camps.

 

We could rewrite this as follows:

 

Privately, Theresa was a Leaver, but with Remain overtones. For example, she quite admired Merkel and had never been very keen on Gove’s sermons. In terms of public policy, she was determined to find a pragmatic solution to the Brexit question. Her aim was to make Brexit work, but in a way that would not alienate the 48 percent too greatly. The most hardline Europhiles, she knew, would never accept anything she did, as they regarded the EU referendum as illegitimate, and she did not even try to appease them. Neither did she take account of the anti-immigrant prejudices of rabid Eurosceptics, known as Farageists. Instead, she tried to forge a settlement that would appeal to the large majority of moderates in both camps.

 

The issue, then and now, is Europe. Mary I, the Tudor Ted Heath, took us in by marrying King Philip II of Spain and restoring Papal authority. Elizabeth, like Theresa, faced a country divided between two hostile camps with competing visions for their country’s future – one desiring national sovereignty above all else; the other seeing the country as part of a larger family of nations and happy to follow directives from either Brussels or Rome.

 

I predict a muddled sort of Brexit (perhaps the Norway Model but with more border controls and fewer regulations, and a bigger UK contribution to the EU budget to compensate). It won’t please everyone, and probably won’t actually please anyone very much, but it won’t be so bad as to be totally unacceptable. We’ll grumble, but we’ll learn to live with it – much like the Elizabethan religious settlement, in fact.

 

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My busy year!

I realise it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything – almost a year, in fact. This is due in part to being very busy with work.

This year I’ve worked on an amazing variety of books, covering subjects as strange and diverse as fire, soap, money, poo, vegetables, snot, tea, sugar, salt, chocolate and bees (which is a delicious combo when spread on toast, by the way!). I’ve also written on more traditional subjects like the Tudors, space, great inventors, archaeology and art.

On the fiction front, I wrote an Anglo-Saxon story called the Golden Amulet and a scary fantasy story called Nightmare Island, both for Fiction Express, and I’m currently working on a new series set in Shakespearean times for Salariya.

As I said – busy! 

Also, World Book Week is coming up fast, and I’ll be visiting lots of schools doing workshops and talks,  all of which requires preparation time.

And if that weren’t enough, you may have noticed that I have a new website. That’s right! I thought it was about time for a change. It’s taken a fair few hours burning the midnight oil getting it just right, but I’m pretty happy with it now. My thanks to Phil Burrows of Novel Websites for creating the site for me. I heartily recommend him to any other authors out there.

Okay, enough talk. I’d better get back to work!

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