Brexit is over. Slowly, but inevitably it is going to fizzle out. Borrowing from T.S. Elliot’s The Hollow Men
‘This is the way Brexit ends, not with a bang but with a whimper’.
All the anger is spent. The fuel is used up and there is no renewable energy to keep the flame alive. The Brexit party. UKIP. The ERG. May and Momentum. None of them matter anymore. They have no capital left to justify their crack-pot, futile endeavour to leave the European Union.
Don’t get me wrong. We’ll be hearing about Brexit for months to come still. We’ll have to suffer the futile talks between Corbyn and May knowing they will lead to nowhere. There may or may not be more indicative votes in Parliament. There’ll be more suggestions of getting rid of May in favour of Mr Johnson. There’ll be speculation of another general election. There’ll be late night dashes to Brussels. There’ll be continued BBC coverage of Farage and his Brexit Party. There’ll be more in-fighting in Labour over a People’s Vote and we’ll still have to suffer more anti-EU misinformation during the EP elections campaign. All in vain. The Brexit-boil has been lanced. All we need to do now is wait for Brexit’s inevitable demise and for the body to heal.
For years I’ve been dreading being pushed over the edge by a rag-tag army of Brexit villains. Now I no longer fear them.
The Cliff-edge June 2016 – 29 March 2019
I’m standing on a chalky down in southern England. It could be anywhere from Dover through to Devon and Cornwall. I, a remainer, along with millions of other remainers am lining the UK’s magnificent coast line. My face, like the millions of other ignored remainers, is looking inland over beautiful ancient grass-lands, grazed by sheep. Behind us is nothing but a 110 m drop off a chalky cliff. There is no fence, no hedge, no barrier and no safety-net to catch us if we fall. I can hear the sea, smell the brine, see the wild flowers straddling the cliffs either side of where I stand. This is where I come from. This is my heritage. My ancestors sailed these very coast-lines for generations helping to build the British navy, serving in the navy, smuggling contraband from France and dodging the King’s men by hiding cognac under their wives’ and daughter’s petticoats. The Tallochs from Mylor Bridge in Cornwall, the Hunts from Falmouth, the Garnett’s from Portsmouth and Liverpool and the Fawcett’s from Yorkshire. Sailing was in their blood. They probably knew every little cove, every current, every beach between Land’s End and Dover. The drop to the bottom of the cliff is sheer. At the base of the cliff is a narrow, inaccessible, shingle beach churned by unremitting, never ending waves.
Over the horizon I see an army of Brexit villain’s approach, beating to the drum of a false narrative based on lies, deception and the dark arts. In the lead is Boris Johnson. An oaf with messy hair, a dirty sweat-band and dressed in rugby gear. His gut and corpulent frame prove he is neither athletic nor a sports-man, but he has bulk on his side and he is using this to intimidate and bully those who stand in his way. Trailing behind Johnson I see a posse of oily, obsequious and sycophantic fags sucking vicariously of his perceived majesty hoping, (not very successfully) they might gain stature if they are seen to be close to him: Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings, Steven Baker, Dominic Raab. Johnson is supported on his right flank by men in suits with the air of courtiers from Henry VIII’s privy council. Led by Jacob Rees-Mogg they put forward a hopelessly-out-of-her-depth woman to represent their interests: Theresa May. She has the look of a disapproving head-mistress who is more than willing to expel me, a remainer, for having the temerity to question her obvious lack of judgement.
To the left of Johnson, I see a gaggle of BBC journalists such as Nick Robinson, Andrew Marr and Laura Kuensberg mingling and hob-nobbing with right-wing news editors: Paul Dacre, Murdock and the Barclay Brothers. They bellow every populist sound-bite ever uttered by every tyrant since time immemorial. The media are being orchestrated by a Sargent-Major with an unhealthy complexion and a Cheshire-cat smile, Nigel Farage. From specially erected mega-phones the BBC spoils the peace of the beauty spot by ordering us not to defy the will of the people; to stop supporting citizens of nowhere (or be branded one ourselves); to abandon support for independent judges, to stop our treasonous thinking, to be true British patriots and to unite behind Brexit. I and millions of other remainers stay put and refuse to conform.
For the past two years this army has been on the march edging closer and closer to where I, a remainer, stand with my back to the cliffs. They have seen to it that the bottom of the cliff, like Brexit, will be hard and uncushioned. My interests, fears and concern are of no concern to them as they edge closer and closer to where I stand. I dread their approach. If they reach me they will crush any hopes I and millions of other British have of remaining close to an open, tolerant and values-driven EU. Onwards the villainous army of Brexit-enablers march, with drums banging. The supplicant media interview them earnestly as if there were any merit to their falsehoods. The megaphones are getting louder. ‘Accept the legitimacy of the referendum,’ it blares. ‘Surrender to the will of the people,’ I hear echoing over the fields where the sheep look up in bewilderment. ‘Traitor!’ I see Rees-Mogg mouth at me with his top hat on. ‘Unite behind me!’ Theresa May repeats again and again with her stern, unsmiling, unlovable face drawing closer and closer to where I am rooted.
By the beginning of March 2019 Johnson, is still leading the pack of Brexit cheats. He is within five inches of where I stand. Close up and his face has the harsh, uncaring look of a man corrupted by his own self-interest. I know that he is more than happy to push me, a remainer, and millions of the other remainers with their backs to the precipice off the cliff to achieve his ambition of becoming Prime Minister. His massive, fat fist is stretched out ready to give my shoulder the final shove and shut me and all other remainers up forever. He is close but there is still five inches separating my shoulder from his podgy fist. He is straining to reach me and give me the final shove, but five inches separate me, a remainer, from his attempts. I am still safe.
29 March 2019: The Brexit day that never was.
Johnson, May, Rees-Mogg, the BBC, Farage begin to disappear in front of my face. Johnson’s fist is turning into pink jelly before melting in the mid-day sun. None of them made it over the line on the day they had billed as ‘Brexit Day’. All those commemorative coins, Brexit festival fetishes will come to nothing. Their dream is beginning to whimper as it faces the reality of its own demise.
16 April 2019 and Brexit is in its death throes
It is now over two years since I saw the army of cheats march over my beautiful horizon. None of us standing by the cliff’s edge have run away. None of us have flinched. We have not budged from where we stood in 2016 facing the country. None of us have capitulated to the repeat messaging from the BBC or any other right-wing media headline. We have refused to accept that Brexit is the will of the people. We have refused to accept that the referendum result was legitimate and should be respected. We have refused to denounce independent judges as enemies. We have refused to accept that those who support the EU are citizens of nowhere. We have refused to unite behind Theresa May’s red-lines. We have refused to seek any compromise on Brexit. Brexit is our only red-line. On Brexit there can be no compromise. One never compromises with bullies and liars. Churchill taught us that.
There never was a good reason to leave the EU. There has never been an intellectual movement behind Brexit. Brexit’s biggest supporters from Johnson, to Rees-Mogg, to Nigel Farage, to Paul Dacre to the dubious academics wheeled out to give Brexit some kind of polish are all lousy fakes.
Brexit is an artificial construct designed by liars, constructed by cheats and enabled by opportunists. It is a riddle that can never be solved. It is a sleight of hand by malign magicians trying to hood-wink good people into believing it has any merit.
Brexit is going to fizzle out. When it was within their power to let Johnson loose and push me and all remainers over the cliff they started, as rats in a sack are wont to do, to bicker amongst each other before digging their incisors into each others jugulars. May’s withdrawal agreement will never see the light of day. When the substantive issues surrounding leaving are finally debated in Parliament it will become ever more obvious that Brexit serves no purpose. There is no good reason to abandon the best deal on the table. The next few months will be a period of reflection and debate culminating either in revoking Article 50 or a second People’s Vote.
Brexit, I am happy to report is dead and this time the corpse cannot be revived no matter how hard Farage and his Brexit Party tries to massage his deformed creation back to life.