It’s official. We are now living in a real-world episode of The Thick of It, just with extra levels of absurdity. I keep hoping to see Armando Iannucci pop up from behind a big screen somewhere, like Christof in The Truman Show, saying, “Surprise! This was all a big experiment in seeing how far we could push this whole omnishambolic farce!”
Let’s quickly recap the last few days as a case in point:
The FT published a letter from David Davis to the Prime Minister complaining about the EU making preparations for a no-deal scenario. Apparently, he is annoyed that the EU is warning business that the UK may become a third country on 29 March 2019, unless agreement is reached. He says they are treating a member state unfairly (!), and that this is damaging UK interests and he will seek legal advice. The EU responds in the only way possible: “We in the European Commission are surprised that the United Kingdom is surprised that we are preparing for a scenario announced by the UK government itself.” This is what we have come to.
Brexiters turned up in Brussels with a hamper of UK goods to show Brussels how strong we are commercially. What’s in the hamper? PG Tips and Marmite, produced by an Anglo-Dutch company, Unilever. Gin made by a company that has warned of the consequences of the falling pound resulting from the decision to leave the EU. A book on Churchill, who saw the UK’s future as part of Europe. English cheese and sparkling wine. Yes, send more cheese and wine to continental Europe. Those are two things they don’t have much of. I’ve never heard of French cheese or wine, for example. I don’t think the Spaniards or the Italians make either of those products either. Apparently Barnier enjoyed the hamper, especially the goods that currently enjoy EU protected origin status.
Davis and Hammond travelled to Germany and wrote a badly crafted letter in the German press (I am a liberal metropolitan elite British citizen who can speak actual foreign languages, including German), more or less begging the Germans to ensure that financial services and passporting rights are included in any Brexit deal. They have still, still, STILL not understood that this will not happen unless we stay in the Single Market. They Still. Do. Not. Get. It. Besides, why on earth would the Germans help us out on this point when they stand to benefit handsomely from London-based banks relocating to Frankfurt? But more to the point, they still do not understand that the Germans will not undermine the Single Market or the European project, least of all for these half-witted arrogant fools that are currently in charge.
And now for the icing on the cake, which we are both having and eating, obviously. Farage wants a second referendum! To kill off EU membership for a generation! Last time I checked, he had already done that by co-opting the Tory Party into his right-wing, anti-foreigner, populist brand of politics. Could it be that Nige is a closet Remainer? The EU has provided him with lucrative employment over the years, and perhaps he quite likes living in Europe. What other reason could there be for this turn of events? Which really just makes him a bigger shameless hypocrite than I already thought he was.
Brexit has turned us into a laughing stock. Really, a hamper of PG Tips? Like that is going to suddenly make the EU say, oh, yes, of course we will give you a deep and special bespoke deal? It’s definitely worth slaying the Single Market and undermining the entire institution that is the European Union for some mediocre teabags!
And just to end, I want to ask, where is the opposition? Where did it go? I’ve been looking everywhere for it, but every time I think I spot it, its leader says the same things as the Tories, namely some falsehoods about it being impossible to be in the Single Market and the EU at the same time, which seems to imply that the nations of Switzerland and Norway are just fictional entities in my head. All of this staggering ineptitude and the hopeless reshuffle that wasn’t really a reshuffle are providing more open doors for a good kicking from the opposition. But no, it’s doing nothing, just arrogantly sitting there assuming people will vote for them next time around without doing anything to earn those votes.
I have to quote one of my favourite Remainers, James O’Brien, here: “I think we’re moving into a period of British political history that is almost beyond rational analysis.” Because it’s true. None of this makes sense. I am bewildered. No matter what party was in government before, I used to believe that it generally tried to govern in the interest of the country, that there was a rationale to its actions, even if I didn’t agree with all of them. But what’s happening now, it just makes no sense, it cannot be that Davis is this thick, can it? It cannot be that we are heading down this road when it is so clear how devastating it will be for all of us, can it?
In another world all of this would be hilarious. I suppose if I were watching this from the sidelines with a burgundy passport secured, I would laugh at all this nonsense. But this is serious. These people hold our economic futures and our national security in our hands. And even if one supported Brexit, surely no one can think that these people are going to make a success of it at this rate. We absolutely have to redouble our efforts to Exit from Brexit in 2018, this is the year that will make or finally break Brexit. Buckle up, my friends, it’s going to be quite the ride.