On behalf of my country I want to say sorry to the world, and particularly to all our friends and allies in Europe. It seems we've decided to break our long-standing ties and our commitments and instead do things our own way. By this decision we have made the world a little colder, a little more dangerous and quite a bit more stupid.
I know that most of you will find it hard to understand our decision. You realise that cooperation and working to end silly national competition is the only way that the human race, and our natural world, will survive. I hope you can forgive us.
It will be of no comfort to you to discover that this decision is a painful self-inflicted wound and that the United Kingdom itself may not survive it. My Scottish friends find it hard enough to understand why they must endure seemingly endless right-wing governments. My friends in Ireland wait nervously to see how peace will be maintained once the inevitable border controls start to be put back in place. The people of England will remain divided and confused.
Of course you may be grateful to see us go. We were never a very good partner of the European Union. For some reason we wanted to stand out, to have lower standards than everyone else, to make ourselves an exception. At the same time too many of us wanted to blame Europe for problems that had nothing to do with our membership of the EU.
If it's a comfort we don't just stupidly blame the EU. We also blame the poor for poverty. We blame disabled people for their disabilities. When the United Nations recently told the Government that their policies were breaching human rights we simply ignored them.
This is part of a long-term problem. The UK is now only the 25th richest country in the world and the most unequal country in Europe. We have managed to pull off the unfortunate trick of working too hard, but with very low productivity. Our society and our economy have declined as wealth and power have been concentrated in London. We've deluded ourselves into believing that we're exceptional, a great success story, who is only being held back by others.
It may be that this is simply the inevitable fate of a country that is still looking backwards to the days of Empire. We are not the first country to have rapidly lost an Empire, but perhaps only we and the Hittites have fallen so far, so fast. We've become confused about who we are and what's really important.
Today our leaders talk about meritocracy as if it were a good thing. We've forgotten that the word meritocracy means exactly the same as the word aristocracy and is the precise opposite of democracy. We're now living by nineteenth century values and are led by people who are divorced from common people and common-sense.
Forgive us. Maybe one day we will work through our problems and come back to reason. Maybe we will wake up from this confused dream. But until we do I hope that Europe will stay on its path of peace and justice and continue to help make the world a better place.