One of my most embedded images from the Yugoslav wars is of a large abandoned house, two Mercedes in the driveway, riddled with bullets, designer label clothes on a washing line and a living room filled with books. Whoever owned it had been wealthy and educated. This came to mind in a recent swing through the old Yugoslavia while the Brexit and immigration debate continued to rage in Britain. Yugoslavia was created after the First World War officially made up of six ‘republics’ within which there were mini-enclaves and bygone city states that had over the centuries had been run by the Venetians, the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians and so on. Each conqueror brought with them different religions, cultures and gene pools which became the Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croatians, Bosnian Muslims etc.. During the Cold War, Yugoslavia was technically in the Soviet bloc, but through the skillful management of Josip Tito, Yugoslavs generally became richer and freer than their socialist counterparts and didn’t fight each other. Tito exercised dictatorial muscle to keep the country unified and tough diplomacy to keep Soviet tanks off his streets. Both skills have a nasty underbelly and those who crossed Tito fared badly. After his death in 1980, things loosened, and in the 1990s with the collapse of Soviet communism, they fell apart. National unity between the various gene pools with their different cultural backdrops vanished and they began killing each other. The overriding mindset was that once gene pool A, B or C had been eradicated from a village or city, a panoply of happiness would descend from the heavens. Your own group could take back control and everything would be fine. Within this insanity, lies the notion that the loathing of an outside group will create dignity for one’s own and achieving this takes priority over education, health care, transport and all those things that bring us a high standard of living and sense of the future. Now, alas, with Brexit, we find similarly skewed priorities encroaching the shores of Britain, albeit less extreme. Therefore, we must ask the question: What does happen once we have removed that umbrella institution that we habitually kick when we feel the system isn’t delivering? If wealthy, educated Yugoslavia is any litmus test, we move on and find something else to kick and eventually end up burning down our neighbour’s house. One story doing the rounds in Croatian Dubrovnik is that war was justified because the Serb-dominated Yugoslav government took for itself the Old City’s multi-million dollar tourist revenue which should have been used for local schools and hospitals. There are echoes here of the bogus £350 million a week on the side of the Brexit bus. We should take note.