Keep away from politics, they said. You might alienate your readers, they said. It might hit your sales and discourage interaction, they said. Well sorry, whoever “they” are, I’m going there.
Even the most far-fetched proponents of the misnamed ‘Project Fear’* couldn’t have predicted the depth to which British politics could have sunk after two and a half years of Brexit inertia.
A tottering prime Minister, bereft of ideas or imagination, clutches her Deal, brandishing it like the sword Excalibur, as if it entitles her to wield absolute executive authority over government, Parliament and the nation.
A country still as deeply divided as it was in the first winter after the misbegotten referendum, still hovering around 50/50 between Leave and Remain.
A bemused Europe looks on, part aghast and part fascinated at the slow-motion car crash that it Britain, scarcely able to believe that country would do this to itself for no reason other than vainglorious pride.
And yet it all boils down to that one word. Pride.
Although the word conjures up modern-day images of happy, smiling people partying in rainbow-strewn streets, pride is a powerful symbol of human fallibility. The bible speaks of pride “going before a fall” and it is difficult to think of a more appropriate description of Britain in the final weeks before the Article 50 deadline expires.
Prime Minister May set out to achieve the Brexit 17.4m people voted for in June 2016. It was a tall order for two main reasons:
- Nobody actually knew what the 17.4m had actually voted for, beyond the meaningless blather afforded by such pithy catchphrases as “Leave means Leave” or “Brexit means Brexit”.
- The UK to all intents and purposes IS the EU. It doesn’t exist outside of our borders or polity; we have been thoroughly involved with its formation, lawmaking, administration, collaboration and existence for at least twenty-five years. “Leaving” is akin to removing the egg from a cake that had already been baked.
Yet somehow, at the last minute, May managed to pull an agreement out of the ether which just about achieves the basic aim of the referendum vote. Under its broad terms, Britain can leave the EU political union while protecting its trade status with its biggest trading partner and maintain a customs union. Northern Ireland can remain an open border under the current agreement until such time as a solution can be found or it will revert to EU terms. (An acceptable outcome for Remain-voting N Ireland.)
However, Point 1 above has come into play. The arch-Brexiteers find the deal unacceptable because it leaves Britain beholden to EU rule-making on trade. At the same time, the disaster capitalists of the ERG find the trade agreement too limiting regarding the libertarian open trade they believe will produce the fastest gains and allow the asset-stripping of Britain’s nationalised health and welfare industries.
Meanwhile, as regards Point 2, the Remainers are appalled in that it leaves us more or less where we are with regard to trade, only we lose freedom of movement within the EU and lose all of our input at the Council of Ministers, Commission, Parliament and ECJ.
Faced with this overwhelming opposition to her deal within and outside Parliament, May went back on the scheduled “meaningful vote” and postponed it by a month. She then shuttled around a few European capitals trying to enact a “meaningful change” in the existing agreement, received some “meaningful rebuttals” as the deal was already agreed by the 27 other nations, and then came home to spout some “meaningful bollocks” about the imminent threat of a no-deal Brexit, which it is entirely within the authority of the UK Parliament and Government to stop at any time by extending or rescinding Article 50.
Time will tell how much longer Theresa May’s pride and stubbornness will keep her procrastinating the inevitable rejection of her “deal” while holding to the country to ransom over a no-deal outcome which she herself could avoid by just asking Parliament. However, the Maybot is disinclined to show any perceived weakness, even though her every step since becoming Prime Minister, including her disastrous hubris-laden General Election decision, has stunk of a particularly abject and cowardly weakness which she continues to display throughout this spineless attempt to cling on to power.
At least it’s Christmas.