Remember back in those halcyon days before Brexit when David Cameron kept telling us we had to remain in the European Union because “we’re not a nation of quitters”? How spectacularly ironic that seems now after the resignation of Nigel Farage. Hot on the heels of Boris Johnson and Dave himself, Farage has now decided he’s “done his bit” for the country and should step aside.
What a truly noble politician he has turned out to be: happy to do the hard work when the country needs it (floating down the Thames in a boat decked out with colourful banners, exchanging light-hearted hose fights with Bob Geldof), but ready to lend his support to a (nameless) “Brexit prime minister” when the country has reaped the benefits of his honourable aims (a damaged currency, recruitment freezes, rumours of banks moving to Paris, an insecure future for our thousands of hard-working EU immigrants and British ex-pats living elsewhere in Europe, the looming possibility of a “Brexit bubble” in the housing market and intergenerational warfare).
A lot of unbelievable things have happened in UK politics in the past week and a half, but our three most prominent politicians from the EU referendum debate flinging themselves like rats off a sinking ship is probably the most astonishing.
“Don’t Be A Quitter” Dave, having dreamed up the referendum as an amazing idea to win an election with no long-term consequences, was the first to announce that he’d decided quitting wasn’t shameful or un-British after all, so see you later. Boris Johnson, who managed to change the global political landscape in the name of a career-boosting campaign he didn't appear to really believe in, seemed so devastated the gamble actually paid off that he decided he wasn’t the man to run the country either.
Now Nigel Farage, a man whose entire political career revolved around the push for UK independence, would rather not make any further public pronouncements about Brexit, thankyouverymuch.
After all, he just supported the idea of independence. Why should he stick around and dirty his hands with practicalities? It’s the UK Independence Party, not the What The UK Should Do After Independence Party!
Anyone devastated about seeing the back of Farage can comfort themselves with the fact that this isn’t the first time he’s quit, so he might well rejoin politics when it seems like an easy job again.
In this post-satire political landscape, our own Prime Minister quit because he didn’t want Brexit, the two most vocal Brexiteers have decided not to continue on either, and everyone is up in arms about why the Leader of the Opposition won’t quit as well. Remember when taking responsibility for one’s actions was part of the job description of politicians – particularly prime ministers? Me neither, but I have a dream that one day that might become part of our cultural reality.
Cameron, Farage and Johnson collectively crafted one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of modern British politics. Every one of them is responsible for the uncertain future we now face and we’re watching them remove themselves from positions of responsibility, one by one. Financially battered, racially divided, politically damaged and chronically demoralised, we’ve been left marooned on a tiny island by a bunch of bickering schoolboys waving off Farage as he sails away into the sunset.
So long, Nigel, and thanks for all the fish.
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