“The Brexiteers” are loading up the Mayflower and the Golden Hind with trinkets and beads to offer the natives of far-flung undiscovered countries in return for trade deals.
Experts and economic forecasters are piling up sandbags around their offices as the UK economy teeters on the brink of a collapse more final and more terrible than anything the world has ever known. On the stroke of 2300 tonight – markets will be open somewhere in the world – Sterling will become worthless and the UK’s stock will plummet.
Or so we’re told.
Over there on the left are the sunlit uplands of the road not travelled – we’re richer over there, because we voted to Remain in the EU. We’re happier, the sun shines, the Ode to Joy plays in the background, and the landscapes have that clean-cut look of architects’ models.
But we’re leaving. It’s too late.
“Now you’ll be sorry,” the editorials tell us.
It’s a good thing Labour won the argument at the General Election last year. If Labour had lost the argument as well as, er, the election itself, we’d be in real trouble. But no – Jeremy did a fine job, say the candidates to replace him, and we had just the right manifesto. We won the argument.
Where’s Brecht when you need him? “Would it not in that case be simpler for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?” Brecht wrote, in his 1953 poem Die Lösung (The Solution).
Yes, and it’s a good thing nothing else is going on in the world. Australia is still on fire and that virus out of China sounds more than ever like something out of World War Z (the 2006 book by Max Brooks, not the movie; Brooks’ “zombie plague” originates in remote China), but apart from all that – and the ongoing impeachment of “the leader of the free world,” as the media call him – we’re free to get on with our own little local difficulty.
Kind of appropriate that this is the week in which the government set out to make the trains run on time. Nationalising Northern Rail – I mean, you’d almost think they had Northern voters to consider.
Oh, and did I hear that there’s a plan to reverse some of the Beeching cuts to the rail network? Bet that’ll go faster than HS2. Maybe the Chinese will give us 5G broadband for the many, not the few.
My most memorable experience of the 2019 general election – I wrote about this at the time – was the stream of barely credible mostly fake news pushed onto my screen from the left. Yes, other varieties of invective are available. But. Have the Tories sold the NHS to the Americans yet? What is the political opposite of #torylies?
I’m not a Tory. I’m not anything*. I follow politics as a fascinating human drama, but I struggle to believe that the election to power of one person (party) or another, one philosophy or another, will be any more likely to transform my life than, say, surveillance capitalism.
The saving grace of human nature, whether you’re talking about shopping or political campaigning, is incompetence. No political party, newly in office, successfully does what it promised it would do or what its detractors threatened it would do. Despite all the personal data at its disposal, Big Tech doesn’t seem to have found a way to offer me what I want to buy when I want to buy it.
Here in the non-fake world, in politics as in everything else, all consequences are at least partly unintended. The future seems to take a contrarian delight in defying forecasters’ best efforts. Tomorrow remains stubbornly unknowable.
What I notice about Brexit is not that it’s right or wrong, good or bad, because we can’t know that yet (or perhaps ever, given that there really isn’t a road not travelled for comparison). What I notice is that Brexit has provoked a sudden outpouring of certainty – certainty so strong that even truth can be sacrificed to it.
In Brexit as in the general election, my side was right and yours was wrong – in black and white, not shades of grey. How is it rational to use lies – fake news – as evidence in support of what we believe to be true? I got lies from the left in the election and lies from Remain since the referendum; no doubt other postcodes got lies from the right/Leave.
How come we’re all so stupid as to believe that (a) we know best and (b) that we can impose our “truth” on others?
We voted to Leave and then to Get Brexit Done. Now we’re doing it.
We’re still friends. There were speeches and they sang Auld Lang Syne.
Let’s move on.
*Green, since you ask, after a Red canvasser explained to me at length that a Green vote would be wasted. That logic has to change.
The EU/Canada trade deal took seven years to sort out. What did they talk about on, say, the second Tuesday of the third month of Year Five?
I haven’t seen the phrase “Please allow 28 days for delivery” for a while now, but I used to wonder – why did they ask for so long? What did they expect to be doing on the eighth day? The seventeenth?
Can’t take that long to wrap and post a parcel, surely?
Turns out that the EU/Canada trade deal was vetoed at the last moment by the Wallonia region of Belgium, no idea why, and that it was further delayed when the Canadian prime minister’s flight (to the signing in Europe) had to turn back due to engine trouble. Thanks, Google.
Thanks BBC, actually. Went from Google to a BBC story about the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta to its friends) dated 30th October 2016. Scrolled down, obviously, to read the story, and found links to other stories. Is Ceta a good model for Brexit? Is visiting a strip club anti-feminist?
What? And here are two more. The nursery putting fitness at the heart of learning. Seven things Brexit will change and seven it won’t.
Oh, doncha just lurve a good list? Refusing to be distracted, I just want to say: you can’t just trade any more. You need a trade deal. And that means hiring trade-deal negotiators.
Trade negotiators, I should say. People who will make the job look easy. People who will tell you, “Yeah, no problem. We’ll get that done in no time.”
Because their whole purpose is to make life easy for the rest of us, right?
Not to impress us with how difficult their jobs are. Right?