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Still great, just maybe not with a capital 'G'.

U negotiator has Michel Barnier blamed nostalgia for our European woes.

"Looking at the causes of Brexit, we also find typically British reasons," he said. "The hope for a return to a powerful global Britain, nostalgia for the past. Nostalgia serves no purpose in politics."

He is quite right. We should learn from the past and look to the future.

Nostalgia, that sentimental affection for rose-tinted memories, should not however be devalued. It has a place in everybody's heart and is a moveable feast for different generations.

My parents were nostalgic about the Second World War but they wouldn't want to experience it again. I get nostalgic for the Swinging 60s, when youth found its voice and believed that peace, love and The Beatles could change the world.

My daughters are probably nostalgic for the 1980s when one nicked her grandad's mac and flat cap to look cool in Doc Martens, and hair styles for girls looked like cowpats. Ah, those were the days.

Everybody will have their own period of the past that they look back upon with fond memories. It's one reason why period drama is so popular on television. Grantchester in the 1950s, George Gently in the 1960s, Foyle's War and Downton Abbey.

But we wouldn't necessarily want to live in the Victorian age with no health service or postwar Britain with outside lavatories and no TV. We wouldn't want to go back to days of Empire either, when Britain was only Great for the Toffs that ruled and Tommy Atkins was at the sharp end.

Our political parties are more representative today and the electorate can deliver shocks as they did in the referendum. Government is wary because times have changed.

We may no longer be a global power but Britain still has that aura of being artistically hip, we remain leaders in science, technology and medicine and many parts of the world still admire Britannia as the mother of democracy, despite our faults.

Brexit will happen, hopefully in a constructive way with politicians bearing in mind the lessons of the past without waving banners of nostalgic glories, and negotiating a future in which we can retain our influence and commercial and national links.

And who knows, the next generation might even be nostalgic for the EU.

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 4, 2019
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