After nearly two years of negotiations, the triggering of Article 50, a general election, a threatened coup or two, the loss of her Brexit secretary, foreign secretary, home secretary, deputy, and a whole bunch of others, it’s safe to say the prime minister has had a rough one.
And now, to top it off, rumours abound that the government is planning to stockpile food for a post-deal Brexit. You know, like apocalypse fantasists do in their fallout shelters.
It appears ever more likely that come 29 March 2019, we’ll be facing a no-deal Brexit.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, new Brexit minister Dominic Raab (the heir to David Davis’s intray) refused to deny that the UK is preparing for such a deal. He’s the one in charge of setting up the contingency plan, according to The Sun.
Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve has warned that a no-deal outcome would leave the UK in a state of emergency. And as usual, Jacob Rees-Mogg has had something to say about it.
The question raised by many is, what would a “no deal” actually look like? It’s hard to see for now, as Brexiteers insist that no deal will be no big deal. Theresa May remains steadfast that she will get a deal, and Rees-Mogg remains nonchalant about most things – apart from undermining her whenever possible.
I doubt Theresa May would be able to survive a no-deal Brexit. Much like David Cameron tapping out after losing his supposed party favour vote, after two years of boring us on how she will get a good deal, it’s hard to picture May leading the country while we fall out of the bottom of the EU net.
The prime minister faces what feels like weekly threats of a coup, with the trickle of resignations from Conservative figureheads, parliamentary private secretaries and the occasional big ministerial fish.
If it finally came to pass, his would leave a vacancy for the role of prime minister. Rees-Mogg has been the favourite for a while now, for reasons that remain unclear. Despite his appearance as the most Tory of the Tories, in terms of actual accomplishments within government his CV is rather lacking. That said, his paucity of experience hasn’t managed to put off people from wishing his prime ministership into being.
In an interview with Channel 4, Rees-Mogg avoided the issue of what consequence he would face if there was to be a no-deal Brexit, but conceded that the economic effects of Brexit may not be felt for 50 years. Effectively what he’s saying is: “It’ll take a long time to work out, by which point it’s likely I’ll be very old and unable to face scrutiny.” Or, “I’ll be dead.”
In a no-deal Brexit scenario, with Rees-Mogg as prime minister, it’s safe to say he’d be taking a “two for me, one for you” approach to the stockpiling of precious supplies to tide us over, as the country becomes a barren wasteland.
He conceded in the same interview that his version of the future being on the line – as opposed to that of civilians and businesses – is the next general election.
Then, “The People” – whom he seems reluctant to protect from the no-deal fallout – will get to decide whether he keeps his role as MP for North East Somerset.
Either way, I have a feeling that thanks to his wealth, he’ll be fine – but we don’t all have backup fortunes to rely, sadly.
Perhaps if we all had our own personal stockpile, the chat about a no-deal Brexit would be easier to swallow. It’d be easier to sit and mull over the finer points of the sheer possibilities life outside the EU could have in store for us.
If we each had a metal fallout shelter in the garden, filled with endless tins of Heinz tomato soup and Fray Bentos pies, we’d feel a bit more secure. If we had bank accounts filled with emergency cash for a rainy day, we might not take it so personally when David Davis walks out of office, before he even made it past the the intro folder of his workbook.
Because the thing is, the people who spend the most time umming and ahhing about the joys of Brexit in our parliament are the ones who likely will be fine whatever happens. It’s the people outside the barriers of Westminster who are most in need of the emergency government stockpile.
The ones who may not know the ins and outs of the customs union, single market, and the other minutiae of EU policy, are the ones that will be most hit – either next year, or in 50 years – by the uncertainty of what we’ve done.
It’s a joke I made after the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump: that we were headed towards some sort of apocalyptic doom. But the talk of the Tories filling up the air raid shelters “just in case”, and the NHS making plans to ensure we have enough medicine to last out the end of times, is making me less keen than ever to end up being right.
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