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To the sensible souls in British politics – keep plugging away

July 25, 2019

Today is supposed to be the hottest day in Britain since record-keeping began. It’s also the day when an unprecedented act of political decapitation takes effect. A crossing of the Rubicon. The morphing of the Conservative government into a bunch of right-wing ideologues bound together by one purpose above all others – to leave the European Union with or without what is commonly referred to as a deal.

Ask any of the neophytes or re-treads taking their seats at the cabinet table what they think about climate change, defence or social care, to name but three of the critical issues facing the new government, and you’d have to dig quite hard to get definitive answers that are distinguishable from the party line. But ask them about Brexit, and the answer would come back in a second, as if you were asking them whether they were male or female, black or white, straight or gay. No longer a principle, now a matter of personal identity.

While the rest of us bake in the heat, which, it seems, may or may not be a symptom of climate change depending on who you believe, Boris Johnson’s shock troops are gearing up for a single mission. No ifs, no buts. What they think about other issues is pretty much irrelevant. You get the impression that they’re the accountants who, when asked how many people it takes to change a light bulb, reply by asking how many you want there to be.

That’s probably not the case, but when the person on whom you depend for your exalted position is fixated on one objective, all other considerations become secondary. At least until the crises on your patch start cropping up.

A number of political commentators are predicting an autumn general election, called when Boris’s opponents, both within his party and without, block his attempts to take us into a no-deal Brexit. If that’s true, you could describe the strategy as shit or bust. Will his party stay onside? Few of them would relish the prospect of being booted out if the emperor is revealed in all his naked glory. He will certainly need to have chalked up plenty of wins to give his party a chance in an early election.

As things stand the only parties that appear to be prepared for such an event would seem to be the Brexit Party, whose relevance may quickly become questionable now that the government has adopted its key demands, the Lib Dems, invigorated by its recent election results and a new leader, and the Scottish Nationalists, who see a new opportunity to press for independence.

The Labour Party is divided on Brexit, in turmoil over the anti-semitism issue and in two minds about its leader.

So I suppose Boris reckons there’s all to play for. If he succeeds in sending us over the edge, it will be interesting to see how things look at the end of next year. A strong possibility of mass recriminations in the UK over a shattered economy, and, if Trump is kicked out by an electorate that finally sees him as the monster he is, Boris and his shock troops will look very isolated indeed. By that time the reputation of the Conservatives as a party of pragmatists will have been shattered, possibly for ever.

My question then will be: did we really have to go through all this pain to facilitate the prejudices of a minority within a minority? And what can we salvage from the ashes of a broken country, if indeed it still exists as a single country?

I like to think it will all work out in the end, but of course there is no end – only a continuum that leads us on to more paths, none of which is likely to resemble what has gone before.

Hopefully there are still enough sensible souls, even in the Conservative Party, who can stop this nonsense in its tracks. I only hope that they will keep plugging away in the next few months. And I will certainly be among them, sensible or otherwise.

From → Politics, UK

One Comment
  1. Why has no-one built a bridge over the Rubicon? (Or have they?)

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