Next week Rule Britannia will belt out loud as ever at the Proms in that partly ironic parade of cheerful patriotism. But the great game is over. Poor David Cameron has been the one left stranded when the music stopped, still singing as everyone else falls silent. From Number 10 came effing and blinding at Ed Miliband, calling him, as reported in the Times, a “f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***”. But it wasn’t Labour, it was Cameron’s whole country who had changed while he wasn’t looking. Cue last-minute key change in Downing Street’s unconditional promise to the US, but he’s still out of tune with a country that doesn’t want to go to war.
As the true meaning of end of empire sinks in, great questions follow. Why continue to spend more than comparable countries on defence? Why do we (and France) still squat in UN security council seats? What is the point of Trident, dependent entirely on the closest allegiance to America?