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It was Napoleon who famously described the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, not meant as a compliment, one imagines. Still, a bit rich coming from someone who sold Louisiana to the US to enrich his Treasury and help create a rival to England. The English may have paid others to do their fighting for them, usually against the French, but they have yet to sell bits of their country off. (The easily offended should look away now: dare I suggest that selling the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone to Ireland might solve quite a few problems for today’s rulers?)