This latest move to join forces with the Labour leader suggests the Conservatives are slightly unsure what to do about Brexit. Because for three years they told us Corbyn’s a threat to our existence, if he gets in he’ll make you give your furniture to Hamas; he’ll introduce women-only gravity so men will be forced to float; Diane Abbott will live in your house and taser you if you sing the national anthem; schools will be handed to the IRA and your kids will have to wear a balaclava and fire rockets at the PE teacher or they’ll get detention. He’s a spy, an antisemite; your gran will be forced to become a lesbian and the next day forced to become an Islamic extremist and arrest herself under sharia law.
And now they’ve adjusted this slightly, to decide his input is essential to sort out Britain’s most important issue in 75 years.
If these talks break down, they’ll be even more desperate, and Theresa May will stand in front of her podium to tell us: “This is why I am to hold discussions with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, to see if they can think of anything. Also, because I’m determined to respect the verdict of the British people, I’ve asked the leaders of Hezbollah and the Women’s Institute if they can help out, maybe with an agreement in which we supply rocket-propelled grenades made of homemade chutney, in return for leaving the EU in an orderly fashion on 22 May.”
It’s perplexing how this can have happened, because the leaders of the Leave campaign assured us the European Union would back down, as it needs us more than we need it. Many Brexiteers are sticking with this and have insisted that if we hold our nerve, the EU will retreat at the last minute as it always leaves it late.
In a few years, we’ll be crawling through the woods, attacking each other with twigs to see who gets to eat a caterpillar, and the ERG will broadcast from a transmitter made of dandelions: “The important thing is to hold our nerve, they’ll back down any day soon because they need us more than we need them.”
It’s a mark of our eccentric charm that these people have been allowed to run the place. The group’s deputy-chair is Mark Francois, who clearly isn’t human, as he’s like the robot that gets stabbed at the end of The Stepford Wives and shouts random phrases.
So twice a day he appears on television, is asked for a comment and growls: “A customs union would make all our chickens explode. I could take on Portugal on my own, because when I was in the territorial army I marched three miles round Dorking one Saturday. Denmark is more horrible than an ostrich in your toilet. The only single market I’d vote for is one that sold fruit and veg and every morning shoved a grapefruit up Jean-Claude Juncker’s arse and made him dance the polka.”
This is the attitude that got us here. Many Leavers insist anything other than crashing out without a deal “would betray what 17.4 million people voted for”. But it’s possible that if you look carefully, leaving without a deal isn’t quite what the Leave campaign said before the referendum.
For example, Liam Fox said it would be “the easiest deal in history”. To be fair this is true, as long as the only one you measure it against is Custer’s deal with the Sioux after he was captured at Little Bighorn.
The entire campaign insisted a deal would be simple, so it’s not entirely certain that everyone who voted Leave wanted no deal. But I suppose these are just different ways of calculating. Maybe Brexiteers should add in all the people who voted in the Ukrainian election as well, and all the people who voted for Stacey Dooley in Strictly Come Dancing, and say to stay in a customs union would be a betrayal of 53 million people.
Then everyone can interpret the referendum result in whatever way they fancy. Teenage arsonists should tell the magistrate: “17.4 million people voted for me to burn down the nextdoor neighbour’s shed,” and they’d walk free.
Many of the Leave politicians not only underestimated the problems of leaving, they didn’t even notice them. David Davis was asked around the time of the referendum, how we could deal with the problems it could create in Ireland, and said: “We’re Britain, we know how to sort out Ireland.” It wasn't reported at the time, but very occasionally it pays to have friends who are close to a Belgian MEP who’s been chatting to the former Brexit secretary.
The first point here is the accuracy, as a scholar of British history he’s spotted that over a period of 800 years, Britain hardly heard a peep out of Ireland.
But also, perhaps this explains the current predicament. A section of the country believes we can overcome any problem, by being Britain. To mention the details is treachery.
So it would work to leave on WTO rules, even though no one appears to have the slightest clue what they are, any more than anyone understood the problems of leaving the EU. Because then we can spend the next 50 years moaning about the WTO, and complaining its holding us back and we should leave it NOW because we’re BRITAIN.
Then we can have a referendum on leaving the laws of physics, because for too long they’ve been holding Britain back, demanding fire warms things up and when it’s dark it’s harder to see things. Let us send particles in the direction WE want to send them and not where Isaac Newton says they should go, and at last our nation will be free.
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