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Brexit Derangement – Thoughts from the Brink

October 1, 2019

IMG_1992 (2)How best to describe the current turmoil in British public life? It’s as if we’ve taken to sticking fireworks in the national clothes drier, or stuffing all the contents of the fridge into the washing machine. The result: random explosions blowing the side off the house, or an unidentifiable brown sludge oozing all over the floor.

If I’ve been relatively quiet over the past few weeks, it’s because I’m finding it increasingly hard to take a coherent view of the chaos surrounding us both here and, not coincidentally, in the United States. As time goes on I begin to wonder who is becoming more unhinged: me or everyone else.

But for what it’s worth, here are some random thoughts that have emerged from my present, though hopefully temporary, state of derangement.

Let’s begin close to home. How to respond to the over-seventies in my golf club who know my position on Brexit and now “hate fucking politicians”, as one of them put it? Winding them up or not responding? My answer: calmly asking them who they expect to look after them when they get sick, and who will wipe their bottoms in their care homes once they’re no longer able to wield a seven-iron. Or asking them whether they would prefer to return to the golden days of pre-EU Britain, when we made planes nobody would buy, cars that didn’t work, indulged in strikes and three-day weeks, staged race riots and stacked rubbish in the streets. Or, in order to preserve civility, say nothing, because to argue with Brexit cultists is about as futile as disputing the existence of God in conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness? These days I prefer silence, punctuated with the occasional uncontrollable outburst that makes me sound like Dr Strangelove.

Next, how to pay for the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament? Easy. If Boris resists the temptation of instigating another Reichstag Fire and using it to abolish the institution altogether, invite bids for sponsorship of Parliament and the great offices of state. As in The Trump House of Commons, the Putin Foreign Office and the Facebook Speaker. Or possibly the G4S Home Office, the Amazon Department of Trade and Industry, the Apple Ministry of Culture and the Goldman Sachs Exchequer. The money raised would be small change for these guys. Alternatively, you could have sponsored debates, as in “the Brexit Debate, sponsored by Marvel”, and make them available on pay-per-view. Further suggestions welcome.

This one’s for students of ancient history. Which prominent figure who contributed to the decline of the Roman Republic does Boris most closely resemble? Julius Caesar? Nah – Boris might have a plastic gladius in his toy box, but faced with an army of angry Gauls, he’d run a mile. Cicero? Closer. Our Prime Minister has the words, but he wouldn’t recognise a principle if it slapped him in the face. My answer: Publius Clodius Pulcher – a degenerate son of the ruling class who turned himself into a plebeian and caused untold grief to the ancien regime, when he wasn’t committing incest and violating sacred rituals by infiltrating female-only ceremonies dressed as a woman. To find out more about this interesting character, here’s a nice blog post, or read Robert Harris’s Cicero novels. Not that Boris has quite sunk to Clodian levels of depravity yet, but, as a classicist, he should recognise a fellow deplorable.

And how to react to the main political parties at their conferences making promises they have no way of knowing they can keep? Actually, that’s refreshingly normal, though the Conservative “promise” to crack nuclear fusion and provide us all with cheap electricity by 2040 would seem to have come from the outer edge of the Trumpian cosmos.

My message for Labour? By all means abolish private schools, but be aware that after Brexit there’s a good chance that few Brits will be able to afford the fees anyway, and you would be depriving the country of valuable income from all the Russian and Chinese parents who do have the money. And since the nation’s universities and health services are becoming increasingly dependent on income from abroad, why not ban foreign students and health tourism as well? Come to think of it, you’d be doing us all a favour if you’d nationalise Parliament.

Actually, I have a better idea. Let’s set up a National Hedge Fund, so that we can capitalise on the the falling pound, the plunging Euro, the devastated Irish economy, the collapsing German car industry and so forth. A good insurance policy for the nation, no? Why let Crispin Odey and his pals take all the spoils?

And finally, at least on the British front, lovely to see Sir David Attenborough at the launching of the research vessel named after him. But wait, didn’t the people vote for the ship to be named Boaty McBoatface in an advisory referendum, only for the government to overturn the said Will of the People? As a consolation they gave the chosen name to a submersible on the ship. Is that not a clear precedent for revoking Article 50, but letting Stoke-on-Trent leave the EU? I think this is a question to be referred to Baroness Spider and her Supreme Court colleagues.

Now, let’s briefly turn our attention to Donald Trump, supreme ruler of land, sea and air, source of universal truth about all things, slayer of the mainstream media and confirmed psycho.

Actually I have very little to say about him because all my email exchanges with Hillary Clinton have been retrospectively classified, and my previous less-than-complimentary ramblings have been locked up in a White House server along with all the other stuff of critical importance to US national security.

I can only add that I look forward to the sight of the helicopter taking him off, post-resignation, to a well-earned retirement at Mar-e-Largo after his pardon from President Pence. But I will feel a little sorry for all his associates who end up in jail, though perhaps Pence will pardon them too.

I hear, however that the Donaldissimo is predicting (or threatening?) civil war if he’s removed. Very similar to the dire predictions emanating from Boris Johnson’s ministers in the event that we’re sensible enough to call a halt to Brexit. Don’t great minds think alike?

All of which goes to show that politics rots the brain, and if things continue as they are much longer, I look forward to a pleasant stay in a secure institution.

From → Politics, UK, USA

  1. Andrew Robinson permalink

    More excellent stuff…. Geriatric golfers complaining? Clearly the thin end of the wedge…. “Je suis dérangé” in French only means “I have an upset stomach”. Must be the acute accents! We both shouted “WHAT ABOUT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE?” at the TV when Sir David was named btw.

  2. debby moggio permalink

    a very small voice from U.S. here. Please, sir, may we borrow your Supreme Court?

    • Hi Debby. Since the prorogation judgement, there have been noises from the losing side about adopting the US system – ie political appointments! So borrow now while stocks last… Here’s something I wrote at the beginning of 2017:

      “If Americans believe that the separation of powers cannot be breached, if the British believe that the independence of the judiciary is inviolable, and if citizens of the European Union believe that it will never fragment back into its component parts, 2016 has taught them that nothing is sacred, and nothing lasts for ever.”

      But let’s hope the tide is turning. S

  3. debby moggio permalink

    unlike you, evidently, / am a confirmed pessimist. As I said to Doug Langmead just a bit ago, that way I can only be correct or pleasantly surprised.

    • Sorry for late approval! Say hi to Doug next time you speak to him. As for optimism, I have to work hard at it!

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