The good news, dear readers, is that AJ is on pretty good form. The bad news, is that precisely because she is on pretty good form, I can allow myself to write about something else. By popular acclaim – well reader Quirk2014 *wave Rowena* was surprised that I had not mentioned Brexit for a while – I will indeed write about everyone’s favourite topic… Brexit it is!
Obviously the most coherent thing to say at this point is not only…
Or to put it another way – uuh? The reputation of our country is being dragged through the mire. We haven’t got an ounce of political energy left for anything else. We are all horribly angry. And for what? I like to think of myself as an imaginative person, but even in my most fanciful whimsies, I cannot possibly summon up a vision of the benefits of Brexit that would justify the crap we have been through and the crap that still awaits us.
Let’s weigh it up… on one side you might have a gleaming, shiny free-trade agreement with the Philippines, say, but, but, but, on the other hand, in order to get to this, we will have sacrificed centuries of parliamentary tradition. You literally cannot keep up with the pace at which a once-proud nation is ripping up its cherished historical precedents. I popped out for a fag in the middle of writing this paragraph and I have just read that Brexit has been delayed. I haven’t read any of the analysis of what the implications of this is but I believe that we now need each and every one of the 27 other nations of the European Union to now say “Oh dear, poor UK, you can’t get your shit together at all, can you? Would you like a little more time?” And maybe, just maybe, some of those nations, might just add a little “but, what about…?” so for example, Spain might say, “Of course, you may have a little more time to sort your shit out, but what about Gibraltar, that’s ours, right?” or France might say, “…those are our fish, non, mes cheries?” Because that has always been one of our massive failings during this whole process, we have really spent very little time thinking about what the people on the other side thought.
Any Brit, could very easily summon up a negative stereotype of any European nationality. The pouting Frenchman, the lazy Spaniard, the severe German, but do we ever stop to think what their stereotype is of us? I have spent quite a lot of time walking amongst these alien Euros and I can tell you that they think of us as haughty and, worse still, as perfidious. We also have positive attributes that we assign to national stereotypes, so the stylish Frenchman, the fun-loving Spaniard and the disciplined German. They thought of us as sensible, but we don’t look so sensible now, do we? We have done the equivalent of the French suddenly becoming frumpy, the Spaniards dour and the Germans hopeless.
I jotted down some thoughts on my commute home, I am not sure they all necessarily fit together coherently, so I will give them to you in sections with headers.
What have we done to ourselves?
At the end of one of our poker nights, we unwisely decided to discuss Brexit. There is never a good time to discuss Brexit but 2am after one, or maybe even two drinks, had been taken, is definitely not a good time for it. We are a bunch of middle-aged, white men from the same small village in Buckinghamshire, so hardly a cross-section of society, but even here we had all the different points of view represented and passionately held. No-dealers at one end and call-the-whole-thing-offers at the other and everything else in between.
I had a real set-to with one of my favourite people. I was making the point that no-one really knew what they were voting for. He is from the north and understood this to mean that I was implying that the leave voters from his part of the world were thick. I am a bit posh and probably a little pompous but this is not what I was trying to say. The point is that no-one, not even the leaders of the Leave campaigns knew what they were voting for. Many of them fully expected the UK to remain part of the common market or, at the very least, the customs union, and indeed they advocated these situations, see Leavers – Single Market is what we love. Northern Ireland was not mentioned by anyone, not even the sodding DUP. And, as no country had ever left the EU before so there was no precedent on which to base the process.
A Better Brexit
Could it have been done well? Yes, probably. What we shouldn’t have done is to trigger Article 50 so early, without any clear idea of what we wanted out of the process. That is a failing of our political leadership. Both main parties overwhelmingly voted for the process to start, so both May and Corbyn share a lot of the responsibility for it having been done so badly.
When anyone points out any of the downsides of Brexit, like when the chairman of a Japanese car company says Brexit will negatively affect their investments, they get shouted down by Brexiteers for spreading Project Fear!! But then when cancelling Brexit or just having a second referendum is proposed, these same Brexiteers start ranting about how there will be civil unrest and blood on the streets, which sounds quite fearsome to me!
Bluff Tories had always said that the way to negotiate with the EU was to take them to the edge and then they would fold under the mighty negotiating skills of the likes of David Davies, the Brexit Bulldog or Raab, the one with too many As in his name but not enough in his geography exams (he was the one who was surprised that we lived on an island see: Raab – UK an Island??!!), or whoever was next in line to step up to the plate only to promptly resign for not being able to support the deal they themselves had negotiated. But the EU did not fold and the only body this Boy’s Own Misadventure, this derring-don’t… just don’t, of a negotiation tactic has worked on is the Conservative Party itself.
No one has any real idea of what happens next but quite a few of the pundits I follow would not be surprised that Theresa May will not drag the corpse of her horrendous deal out from its well-deserved grave where it has already been laid to rest for a second time and demand they vote for it. And all the assorted ghouls of the ERG and the DUP, members of The Undead like the treaty itself, who have not only voted against it twice already, will shamble through the lobby alongside the Prime Minister that they have consistently bad-mouthed and attempted to oust. It will be like in 897 when Pope Formosus, who had been in his grave for nine months, was dug up and put on trial in the Synodus Horrenda. Gruesome as that might have been, they did at least condemn him for the crimes he had committed in life (though I think they were trumped up charges).
I am sure that at the last these Brexiteer zealots, will know that this is their last chance of glory and if they do not grab it now, horror of horrors, we might not leave the European Union after all and their raison d’etre will have vanished in a puff of smoke. Was that French? Oh, la, la! So it will have been Gauloises smoke.
What would I do, you ask?
(Writing a blog, really is the ultimate example of the inner monologue). Well, as the farmer in Norfolk told us when we asked him the way to Peterborough, “If I wa gonna Peterborough, I would’na start from ‘ere.” So, I wouldn’t have spent years insulting the EU, years excavating a special relationship for this Septic Isle, where we didn’t participate in the euro or Schengen and then call a referendum too simplistic to resolve such a complex question. I certainly wouldn’t have voted leave, triggered article 50 and then, I hope I would not have behaved like a massive dick during the ensuing negotiations. (Sorry, I felt I needed to say that.)
But given where we are today… I… well… I would just call it all off obvs! The Venn Diagram of “Things that Luke Baxter and Theresa May Have in Common” would have a very small overlap area, I admit, so I can’t really put myself in her place but oh, boy, if I were, I would be so tempted to just say, “Oh fuck the lot of you, I did my best, I have no idea what anyone wants, I have no idea what I want, so I am going to call the whole thing off.” And she could.
So failing that, the only way out of this sensibly, that I can see, is a second referendum. The first referendum has somehow been elevated as the greatest democratic act known to history, though there might be some quibbles from women pre-1918, poor blokes pre-19th century, or, indeed anyone at most times in history, in most places. But somehow this referendum, cooked up by a posh Etonian chancer as a bit of a wheeze has become the sacred text, the immovable doctrine by which we shall forever live. We have been solemnly told that more voting would be entirely undemocratic, we have had our fill of democracy and we shall not we allowed anymore. “You can have too much of a good thing, don’t you know!”
So if we can get to a second referendum, we would have to match the Brexiteers bollocks with bollocks of our own, along the lines of:
That which was wrought by the people in the sacred referendum can be undone but by the people through (another) sacred referendum (ahem).
Well done if you have made it this far. I will end on an Ava-Jane note. It is absolutely bloody marvellous having her back home and on good form. It might not last long as she is probably only having fewer seizures because of the steroids and they are really not a long-term solution. But with AJ, really, ever since, on Day 2, when she was diagnosed with a severe heart condition, it has always been the case that you need to grab the good times as you don’t know how long they will last. And AJ really does grab the good times and is back to her most hilarious self.
I was back from work in time to get her to bed. So we went through the full ritual of her pretending to brush her teeth and then chucking her toothbrush on the floor, choosing a book, i.e. taking out every book and then saying “No”, putting it back and moving on. Then we read the book and supped some milk in bed (she supped the milk, I hasten to add!). Finally, we have the fun of making it very clear to Dad that she just wants to kiss Mum and not him, well not him, until she deigns to. After much pleading, she did eventually give me a kiss. She has a cold, cold heart that one and she treats me mean.