The mood has seen a visible shift this week. As the March deadline draws closer, and with the parliamentary deadlock still biting, all sides of the debate are losing hope. No Deal preparations are ramping up, with emergency powers being drafted and a heavier stockpiling effort. But will Parliament act?
My dad summed up how politics is currently working in a deep and poignant quote. I gave him the latest updates on our shared shitstorm, when he replied, “Better start digging the graves now then.” A bit dark maybe. Overreacting, possibly. Amazingly though I shared his sentiment entirely, responding “Yes, I’ll dig mine first, you can cover me up.”
It’s hard not to be cynical and dark when the world’s politics is so despairing. But in the UK’s case, the mood has been turning gradually towards apathy since last year. Interviews and vox pops with the proles up and down the country all lean towards displaying confusion and lethargy with Brexit. We’re fed up with the word. It has connotations and anger within its sour neologism.
Channel 4 News took to Broughton in North Wales to catch a glimpse of Joe Public’s thoughts on Airbus signalling strong warnings. As you can imagine, there were some choice views.
People are tired with politics. While polls are suggesting that a second referendum would result in a Remain victory, it’s getting to that decision that will be agonising. But this public discord is justified, yes, but only being poked by the threats of No-Deal and the gaslighting of WTO Brexiters.
Because that’s exactly what this all has become: gaslighting.
Esther McVey, queen of daytime television and benefit sanctions, joined in a confident launch of a No-Deal campaign pathetically titled ‘Get2KnowWTO’. Yeah you can make it rhyme, but it still stinks of sick after red wine. The promotional video was not only factually wrong, but patronising beyond all belief!
Those pursuing a No-Deal Brexit are often seen as ignorant or just plain stupid. For example, James Delingpole of Breitbart UK (the first signs of warning) simply couldn’t answer question from the meticulously contoured Andrew Neil on WTO rules. To be fair to Delingpole, he’s barking up the wrong tariffs, but saying “I don’t know” was better than shovelling further into the silage pit.
It’s astonishing how blindsided WTO Brexiters and supporters are. It’s not the public’s fault for believing the diarrhoea they produce, as their rhetoric and methods are very enticing. The WTO route is a popular line as it fulfils two vital conditions: it honours the 2016 voters, and gets through to March 29 without more negotiating or public votes.
The truth is that No-Deal wasn’t on a ballot paper, or any campaign literature, or being touted by Leave in 2016. But that’s not important in the slightest – with WTO we leave the EU, no questions asked. Except where to find insulin or a job.
For a softer Brexit or the Remain side, the reasoning for their positions is much clearer. The Remain campaign, including People’s Vote, are solid in what they are wanting. WTO Brexiters are sly in their motives. The argument against a No-Deal is monumental, with hundreds of businesses already making or acting on plans to jump ship.
Everyone’s favourite sucker James Dyson announced this week that he’d be taking his headquarters to Singapore, and his tax bill with him. The rats are jumping from this sinking ship, but with the crew still trying to sail the bulky bastard out of port.
The WTO route is not only dangerous for business, but will damage the UK’s reputation immensely. It’s already pretty low, what with the colonies, Brexit, conquest stuff. Seeing British politicians at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos was like having someone from Love Island at a UN Security Council session.
Going for No-Deal reveals just how devoted to free market capitalism the Brexiters are. On Wednesday, the pro-Brexit Bruges Group met in Westminster for a conference – some would say rally, but the audience wouldn’t stomach the walking. Charmingly, the acolytes displayed a picture of Mrs Thatcher on the lectern.
A deal on Brexit is now seen as hopelessly slim, unless Theresa May weakens her red lines. Jean-Claude Juncker has given his fair demands if the notorious backstop is to be weakened. It’s ironic that the WTO Brexiters are so furious about the backstop. Most of them are business owners, property magnates or shareholders – so you’d think from a purely business perspective a backstop would be essential just in case a deal falls through halfway into talks. I think that makes sense to anyone. A failsafe is always important, unless if you’re in the disaster capitalism game of course.
But so devoted to their persistence of No-Deal, some Tories have gone the extra mile this week. Rees-Mogg suggested that Theresa May should suspend Parliament if No-Deal is blocked. This tactic, known as prorogation, has been condemned across politics for its anti-democratic and spiteful nature. Given that Leave politicians are so adamant on the democracy of 2016, suspending our legislature is a tad extreme – some would even say dictatorial.
But my personal favourite of the galloping gaffes this week, was the Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski announcing on Twitter that he’d formally written a letter to the Polish government asking them to block any extensions to Article 50.
So, we’ve had suspending Parliament, colluding with a foreign government to subvert British democracy, and prominent Brexiters knighted in the New Year’s Honours. Let’s just introduce martial law, shall we? Shouldn’t have said that…
It’s just the pits, isn't it? The best hope to prevent a No-Deal is through the Cooper-Boles and Grieve amendments on Tuesday. Personally, I’m starting to believe a referendum is exactly what we don’t need, if the extension clause were to pass. I wrote a vast manifesto for Remain, giving my pointers on how to reform the message from 2016-19. We’ll see if I get to send it. But right now, the eyes are on how to stop a No-Deal. Regardless of the conceited rhetoric of Rees-Mogg and his stormtroopers, leaving without a deal is a one-way ticket to Bollocks-on-the-Naze.
Let’s just hope our representatives choose country over party.🔷
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(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)