As the title suggests, I have had a Brexit blog a’ brewin’ for a few days now. There’s obviously a lot of Brexit about right now but what particularly triggered me this time was a comment piece from Charles Moore in the Telegraph on Saturday.
- The Telegraph is the most conservative/Conservative paper in the country. While The Daily Mail serves as the current mouthpiece of the Conservative Party, it has dallied with Fascism with fulsome support for Oswald Mosley and has recently wavered in its unwavering support for the Brexiest of Brexits under a new editor, the Torygraph has stood firm, as it has for well over a century, as the voice of the shires, the England that regrets the loss of empire.
- Charles Moore is the ex-editor of The Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator (essentially The Telegraph in magazine format).
- Charles Moore went to Eton and Cambridge.
- I pretty much only read The Guardian, I get The Telegraph on Saturdays as it has a great crossword, then I generally burn the rest. It burns better than the Guardian as it has less high-quality ink.
- The cute pic of my kids and dog is entirely gratuitous.
So the background was necessary in order to explain why I was reading the Telegraph in the first place and why Moore’s column was so barmy. I can’t remember the title but the thrust of the article was that “The Establishment” were trying to drive us into a betrayal of Brexit. You could not possibly be more establishment than Charles Moore if your name was Elizabeth and you had a thing about referring to your singular self with a plural pronoun (sorry, being a pedant, i.e. calling yourself “we”). His schtick was that there was some sort of elitist cabal conspiring against him and his fellow sons of the soil. At long last Moore and his kind could feel the hand of freedom reaching out to save them from the downtrodden wretchedness that had been their fate since the day they had been born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
The extent of this misery amongst these pariahs could be seen by more and more of their numbers that sprung up to tell similar tales of despair. We’ve had that towering giant of intellectual heft Jacob Rees-Mogg tell us of the worthlessness of May’s deal that he hadn’t had time to read. And of course, we had Boris, when have we not had dear Boris? There he was, pointing towards the (200-year old, faux medieval) Parliament buildings and denouncing May’s deal as a betrayal of the 1000-year democracy that these houses represented. Quick historical deep dive – 1018 was not a massively democratic year. Then, not unlike today, a Cnut was in charge.
Full disclosure: I am hardly “not of the establishment” either. I, too, went to the kind of establishment that these boys attended. In the finely graded manner of these things, my school was a notch below, but it was one of those. What’s more, the Johnsons are old family friends of ours. Which is why I am particularly enjoying the psycho-drama of the Johnson family. It would be such sweet poetry of Boris saw his life’s dream of becoming Prime Minister snatched away from him by the littlest of his siblings, the estimable Jo. The sister, Rachel, has joined the Lib Dems because she is such a Remainer…and their Dad has written a soon-to-be-made-into-TV novel about the shysters who led us into Brexit. That would be your lad, Stanley.
But the thing is that this lot, none of whom would exactly be picked to play El Che in a Guevara biopic, are proper revolutionaries. People point at Jeremy Corbyn in a scruffy suit and say “Look at that Marxist” but it’s the ones that are comfortable in a tailcoat that you want to be careful of, they are the ones who are currently proposing to really upturn the apple cart. They have never really been able to articulate what “their” Brexit would actually look like but the kind of break off they advocate would completely disrupt the British economy and throw a spanner in the existing make up of international diplomacy. Lenin could not have asked for more.
Sidebar: I have a “70s alternative” Playlist on. Just as I wrote the above, The Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK came on… Serendipity!
An excellent comedian Andy Zaltzman described what we were facing as a Symptonless Blitz. As in, we’d be facing the same sort of shortages that we faced during the Blitz with limited food and medical supplies but without the symptom of a load of German planes bombing us. This time we are bringing the bombs upon ourselves.
Grumble, grumble, grumble
Sidebar2: On my “70s alternative” Playlist I now have Plastic Bertrand playing, a Belgian punk rocker. The Belgian punk rocker. That’s Brussels mind control for you, right there. more… Serendipity!
As I was saying, grumble, grumble, grumble, they’re all a bunch of nincompoops. But go on, then, what would I do, you ask.
Well actually, I agree with Teresa May, it’s no deal, her deal, or no Brexit. I think that’s now quite clear.
Her deal is a classic bit of diplomatic fudge that will be unresolved forever. And maybe that is the most sensible solution to this shit storm. Assign a legion of civil servants to debate the niceties of Brexit in perpetuum, playing out in the shape of a pan-European Bleak House. It might be sensible because we have to think about how we actually get to no Brexit (two points for anyone who spotted that I skipped “no deal”)?
It would have to be in a referendum. Politics as a concept we understand would not survive a no-Brexit scenario engineered by politicians. It could be very divisive. I wonder whether it would be possible to frame a referendum campaign around a message that essentially said ” we have had a look at this from every conceivable angle over the past two years. We haven’t talked about anything else since then. It might not be great but as Churchill said about democracy, remaining in the EU is the worst choice except for all the others.
There are, of course, plenty of very positive reasons for staying closely attached to our neighbouring countries that have such great stuff – I really don’t want things like an Alp, a mangalica pig, a taverna, a marcha madrileña, a steaming pile of Belgian frites and mayonnaise, to be less accessible, to be harder to reach. These things are as much part of my make up as a Penine, a cumberland sausage, a pub, a night out in Brighton or a Cornish pasty. Actually a Cornish pasty is absolutely not part of my make up, I think they are foul.
Sidebar3: On my “70s alternative” Playlist, Squeeze – Cool for Cats, as I typed “pub”, they sang “pub”. …even more Serendipity!
If we were to have another referendum, it would be critical to make the point that a lot has changed since 2016. The most obvious external change is the appearance of Trump and Trump-like nationalists across the world. I’d predict that once Brexit kicks in, it won’t be long before we elect someone in the mould of Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi, Erdogan. Obviously as a representation of nationalism, they’d be a British version of this phenomenon but it’s hardly a massive stretch of the imagination to envisage a Prime Minister coming out with some sort of Make Britain Great Again slogan. Though he would probably put it along the lines of “Arise Britannia once more unto the breach” or some other Shakespeare/Latin mash-up twaddle and Rees-Mogg would put it on a top hat rather than a baseball cap!
Patriots??? Let’s look at one of their kind – Arron Banks. He’s the kind of patriot who defrauds the national treasury by having his businesses located in murky offshore arrangements to hide his income from the taxman. He’s the kind of patriot who gets offered free gold and diamond mines by Russian oligarchs in exchange for who knows what. Though I don’t think Russian oligarchs give away diamond and gold mines out of the kindness of their hearts.
It is a god awful mess, I certainly don’t have any clear idea of how we get out of it from here.
I did love this take on Lewis Carroll on the subject:
T’was Brexit, and the slithy Gove
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,
All flimsy were the Faragists,
And the Rees-Moggs outgrabe.
Beware the squirming Gove, my son –
The lying tongue, the claws that catch,
Beware the frumious Boris bird –
Out for whatever it can snatch!
Who now will face it down, my son –
The Brexit-Beast with eyes of flame?
Oh who will seize a vorpal sword,
And cleave the monstrous thing in twain?