Brexit means Brexit according to the UK Prime Minister. Theresa May. Chief architect of the hostile environment for immigrants at the Go Home Office. The bloody-minded midwife of the Windrush scandal. The dancing queen of disaster who has turned humiliation into an art form on the national and international stage.
It’s a neat slogan. Brexit means Brexit. Easy to remember. Nicely packaged. And designed to appeal to simple minded optimists and deluded idiots alike. Sadly no one bothered to work out in advance what it actually means in practice. And when you get down to brass tacks you are immediately confronted with a brick wall. That’s the problem with meaningless tautologies. They don’t take you very far. And you end up going round and round in circles till you’re so dizzy that you just want to lie down in a dark room and throw up.
If Brexit simply means Brexit then why are there now so many different versions? And why is everyone so confused? And where have they come from these unwanted offspring, these sour faced misfits, more numerous by the day, who refuse to shut up and stay in their boxes, spreading panic across the land and growing like a malignant wound across the disfigured face of an appalled nation?
The initial candidates were perplexing enough: hard Brexit, soft Brexit, clean Brexit, green Brexit. Bespoke Brexit, no-deal Brexit, Brexit-in-name-only, which even has its own acronym (BRINO).
Most of the old school Tory bastards, from the days of John Major, who many assumed were long dead and buried, were suddenly back from the grave, clawing their way out, like flesh eating zombies with their hellish vision of a hard Brexit. Hard-hearted. Hard-nosed. Hard-assed. Hard as nails. Hard-right ideologues, these old Tory bastards.
Then along came the red-white-and-blue Brexit. A draped-in-the-flag Brexit. Specially designed for patriots, tax avoiders, old Etonians, slave owners, pirates and empire building buccaneers. This type of Brexit goes well with the thematically similar Last-Night-of-the-Proms Brexit, and of course the Rule-Britannia Brexit for self-obsessed little Englanders who don’t yet realise that they have already been steamrollered by history and that Brand Britain is closing for business and going cheap in the sales.
And what about your solid-working-class Brexit? The Labour-heartlands Brexit. A howl of pain from those left behind by a country which does not care. A protest vote by the forgotten people in forgotten towns. Those with no voice and no future and nothing left to lose. Ravaged and brow beaten by years of deliberate neglect and austerity. Sold out and sold on. Pissed on and pissed off. Passed up and passed over. So many false promises and so many false dawns.
Let’s not forget about the anti-European Brexit. Also known as the screw-the-Germans and screw-the-French Brexit. The UKIP Brexit. The Nigel Farage Brexit. The Sun and The Mail and The Daily Express Brexit. The what-have-the-EU-ever-done-for-us Brexit. The blame-the-foreigners Brexit. The anti-immigration Brexit. The go-back-to-your-own-country Brexit. The hateful face of the English-nationalist Brexit.
Of course, blaming foreigners for every type of disaster and barbarism is something that the British have always been particularly good at, failing to recognise that we are all foreigners who originally came from elsewhere. Less apparent however, until recently, is a new proclivity for self-harm. And not just your boring old everyday masochism either. Brexit and its consequences have rightly been likened to and described as a kind of national suicide. These suicidal tendencies are apparent in terms like the cliff-edge Brexit and the car-crash Brexit. The shoot-yourself-in-the-foot Brexit, the-stab-yourself-in-the-back Brexit, and the Russian-Roulette Brexit. Everyone is complicit in this national act of self-harm. The people only have themselves to blame. But the politicians are excelling themselves too, as the country follows it’s hapless leaders like lemmings over the cliff, with the foot jammed down hard on the accelerator as the Brexit bus heads for the precipice.
And yet, this is exactly what some people want. Catastrophe can be good for business if you have the means to survive and thrive. To take back control from the mindless bureaucrats and the metropolitan elite. Behind the scenes with their dark money are the disaster capitalists who will profit whatever happens. The anarcho-libertarians and the free-market firestarters who want to tear everything up and start again with a bonfire of regulations so no one can tell them what to do or who they can or cannot screw. Because there’s always an opportunity to make a quick buck when things turn to shit; for those who profit from war and chaos and the destruction of the planet. Those good old boys who rule the world. The arms manufacturers and the oil men. The tobacco companies and the chemical giants. The logging and mining interests and the plastics industry. The tax exiles and the money launderers. Big agriculture, big finance and big pharmaceuticals.
Talking of catastrophe, Government emergency plans appear to be progressing nicely. Shortly, we will be receiving instructions on how to prepare for a year-zero Brexit. A full-scale-Pol-Pot Brexit. A back-to-the-land Brexit. A grow-your-own-fruit-and-veg Brexit. A work-will-set-you-free Brexit. A troops-on-the-street Brexit. A martial-law Brexit. A putrefying-waste Brexit. An I-see-no-ships Brexit. A failing-Grayling Brexit. A special-place-in-hell Brexit. A Dad’s-Army Brexit. – Don’t Panic Mr Mainwaring. Brexit means Brexit. We have an emergency plan for that.
Is it too late to heal the divisions? – Some people are asking with barely a hint of irony.
Well lets think about that for a minute. What divisions are you talking about in particular? Perhaps you are referring to the north-versus-south Brexit; or the young-versus-old Brexit; or the Labour-versus-Tory Brexit. Maybe you mean the fuck-your-friends-and-neighbours Brexit. Or possibly the family-against-family Brexit; the brother-against-brother Brexit; the father-against-son Brexit; the mother-against-daughter Brexit; the nation-against-nation Brexit.
Perhaps someone should have thought about Ireland a little earlier in the day too. Because now we have an Irish-backstop Brexit. A hard-border Brexit. A back-to-the-troubles Brexit. But of course we didn’t think of the Irish. Or anyone else for that matter. – What’s that got to do with us? We thought ‘the Irish problem’ had been solved years ago. Who’s even heard of Arlene Foster and the DUP? Trust the Irish and the Scottish to always fuck things up for everyone else.
So who can save us now? What brave and selfless leader will stride forth in our time of need? What national colossus will step forward into the breach?
Boris Johnson with his deluded-liars Brexit? The liar-liar-pants-on-fire Brexit. The cheap-sloganeering Brexit. The Brexit-bus Brexit. The bendy-banana Brexit. The send-in-the-clowns Brexit.
Perhaps Jacob Rees-Mogg will ride in to save the day, in top hat and tails, with his back-to-the-19th-century Brexit. A nanny-knows-best Brexit. A fantasy-unicorn Brexit. A hedge-fund-millionaire Brexit. A frictionless-trade Brexit. A let’s-fuck-off-to-Singapore Brexit. A chlorinated-chicken Brexit. A sell-off-the-NHS Brexit.
What does Westminster want now? That proud champion of democratic values. The motherfucker of all parliaments. Not a bloody clue! The lunatics have finally taken over the asylum. As time runs out and the clock keeps ticking, the whole mess is on public display for all the world to see. And it’s a classic British farce. But no one is laughing with us. Everyone is laughing at us. In the fog and chaos of this self-declared war on ourselves it seems we are heading for a full-blown-clusterfuck Brexit. A deluded-and-deranged Brexit. A botched-and-bungled Brexit. A blind-deaf-and-dumb Brexit. A back-of-the-fag-packet Brexit. A sold-down-the-river-as-usual Brexit. A lambs-to-the-slaughter Brexit.
And what about the people? The great British public. What do they want? Does Brexit still mean Brexit? Half the country want another vote. The People’s Vote. The other half just want to get on with it, as if simply saying ‘just get on with it’ will somehow solve everything at a stroke. – We don’t really care and we don’t understand and we just want the whole thing to go away. We’re bored of Brexit. Sick of it already and don’t yet realise that we will still be talking about the same issues for at least the next 10 years by which time the entire nation will have ripped itself apart and eaten its own brains.
Perhaps Ireland will be united and Scotland independent. And England will finally be on it’s own (accompanied no doubt by Wales too). Now known as the Former United Kingdom – FUK for short. Back in control of it’s own destiny. Sovereign and supreme. England for the English. The land of hope and glory. England’s green and pleasant land. A land which was once dense with forest. And uninhabited. A land physically joined to the European continent at the end of the last ice age. Before Doggerland sank below the waves and disappeared. The land of our ancient forefathers. The land of Cheddar Man from 9000 years ago with his black skin and his blue eyes: the oldest known inhabitant of the British Isles. The land of the ancient Celts and the ancient Britons who arrived from Iberia and from southern and central Europe. The land once occupied by the imperial Roman army. The land of the immigrants: Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Friesians from modern day Germany. The land of the Vikings and the Normans. The Scandinavians and the French. Invaders, immigrants, settlers. A land shaped through the middle ages and into modern times by successive waves of newcomers, and by continental monarchs from France and the Netherlands and Scotland and Germany. A land which now seems so disconnected from it’s own past and it’s own roots. So unsure of its sense of self, its purpose, it’s place in the world and its own shattered identity.
Of course, time will tell and history will be the final judge. But our actions now are also shaping the future for our own generation and for those to come. Actions have consequences. And those consequences can be unexpected, damaging and far reaching too. And the judgement of our peers and neighbours as well as the judgement of history may well be very brutal and unforgiving indeed. In the meantime, one thing at least is clear. To those who believe that Brexit means Brexit there is only one answer. No, it doesn’t. Go fuck yourself!
10 February 2019