I wasn’t going to write about Brexit because everybody is fed up to the back teeth with it and most of us have stopped caring. However, the proroguing (there’s a fifty-dollar word) of Parliament and the theatrical and frankly disgraceful behaviour of those who purport to govern us, has caused me to sharpen my quill.
The mess we are currently in began three and a quarter years ago but reached a cacophonous crescendo this week. Mr Speaker, blessedly and slightly tearily announced his retirement – for a Tory MP he was Labour’s favourite lapdog and the stony silence on the Tory back benches contrasted painfully with Labour’s cheers as if to a conquering hero instead of a dwarfish and often petulant Speaker who seemed to imagine that Parliamentary rules were for other people. Furthermore, does his wife buy his neckties for him, I wonder? If so, a rapid and painless divorce might be recommended.
David Cameron’s catastrophic miscalculation and the backstage manipulation by the devious Dominic Cummings – surely the comparison to Robespierre is not without merit – was enough to tip the balance. The referendum ballot paper in 2016 was unambiguous. ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the EU or leave the EU?’ Simple enough question – a binary choice – no problem. Clearly, the political class wanted us to vote one way and Cameron, with stern upper-class gravitas, warned us all that this was a once-in-a-lifetime decision, yet, like the idle wind, we heeded him not and perversely voted the wrong way.
If we had chosen ‘Remain’, as most of the Establishment expected, Britain would still be trapped in an unhappy but survivable marriage with Brussels. However, the country voted the ‘wrong’ way and filed for divorce. As it happens, the British people’s decision wasn’t quite without precedent, except, of course in outcome. In the past, whenever other member countries were given a vote on the EU, they too wanted to slam on the brakes. The Dutch decisively but firmly made their collective view known at the ballot box some years ago when they were asked to ratify a proposed constitution that was clearly intended to push Europe towards super-state status. The Irish brushed Brussels aside in a similar referendum in 2008.
Inexplicably, both were told to vote again until they swore allegiance, or perhaps, subservience to Brussels as it steamrollered along towards the sunny uplands of superstatehood.
The tentacles of the EU have woven themselves inextricably into British society and a simple handshake and farewell had no chance of success. It has been suggested that the EU needs us more than we need them so they’ll strain every sinew and set as many bear traps in our path to prevent us leaving as they can manage. One commentator has even suggested that the EU might never let us leave, since we contribute so much. Theresa May with all the enthusiasm of a ride on a tumbril and against her better judgment tried, as a good servant of the people, to push a deal through with spectacular lack of success, thwarted by just about everybody in Opposition plus a cabal of right wingers who stood to benefit, perhaps substantially, by a no-deal outcome. Now, in her place, we have an oafish, unpredictable, but oddly charismatic leader who blunders along with all the grace of a bull in a china shop, oratorical dexterity notwithstanding, towards the cliff edge. Famously, he declared that he’d rather be dead in a ditch than extend the deadline further. Quite a number of people have offered to hire a mechanical digger for a day to expedite the process.
Selling any kind of deal to the implacable mandarins in Brussels isn’t, as BoJo seems to imagine, like selling prayer mats to Arabs; instead more like selling air conditioners to Eskimos.
Hallowe’en, exit day, isn’t far away. Until that time, we have no Government for at least five weeks, unless the Supreme Court gives a ruling, currently with trousers neither up nor down after the English ruled the suspension lawful whereas the Scottish did not. Meanwhile, the Labour Party twiddles its thumbs, looking vacuously out of the window, dreaming of the overthrow of the hated capitalists and are, it appears, even more bovine and helpless than Baldrick who at least had “a cunning plan”. If anybody, anyone at all, has a strategy, a way through the swamp, a ‘secret trick’ that nobody has yet thought of, don’t bother sharing it because nobody’s listening any more.