Sunday, 19 August 2018


You’re crammed into a car with your entire extended family, hurtling down a hill when the brakes fail.

Pedal to the ground horror.
Up ahead the road forks.

One way heads up a hill towards a garage, the other downhill, straight for a cliff edge. 

One way your car stops and everyone is safe; the other you all crash to your deaths or, if you’re lucky, suffer unattractive painful injuries.

The car is the UK, and while we might hope that a nation powered by the fifth largest economy in the world would have the sense not to aim for the cliffs, the Prime Minster clings madly to her steering wheel.

Instead of asking the EU for more time, she hopes her car might fly.

In an attempt to keep in touch with feelings in my native country, I watch the audience on David Dimbleby’s BBC Question Time. Picked to represent complete cross-sections, these British people are erudite, intelligent and witty.

My English heart feels proud of this essentially British mix of cultures that creates a national and natural charisma, and then, like Nancy Sinatra, they go and spoil it all by saying somethin’ stupid like:

“I was a Remainer but now I don’t care. Just get on with it and Leave. I can’t bear it any more!”

Aim for the cliffs?
What’s the rush?

The British are famously a stoic bunch, so why don’t they think past their impatience, rather than destroying their childrens’ future?

Generally if the Tories say they’ll do something dreadful, they do it, and it’s dreadful. Universal Credit springs to mind, but now they’re about to drive the entire nation over No Deal Cliffs, and few seem to care, because they’re so wretchedly bored with Brexit. They just want it over.

“If it were done when ’tis done, t’were well it were done quickly!”
Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 7.

Clearly the British haven't changed much since Shakespeare’s days.

When Boris Johnson delivered his resignation speech in the House of Commons, after being sacked as Foreign Secretary, he was not Bumbling Funny Boris.

Starting his leadership campaign, he wanted to sound like Winston Churchill, because Johnson is obsessed with the wartime leader.

Most unusually, Boris spoke slowly and clearly, using words aimed directly at his voter base.

“It is not … too late … to save … the dream of Brexit!”

Pure Trumpian rhetoric, from another whose political career has been moulded by lies, incompetence and obfuscation. Even if he fails to get the required 48 signatures to run for Tory leadership, Boris will survive the criticism heaped upon him for writing vile nonsense about Muslim women, because he knows many Tory voters agree with him.

By insisting he was defending “...liberal values against extremism...” he used the same dangerous Doublespeak that has proved so effective for Trump.

This odious bile touches the hearts of the dispossessed and the envious, the forgotten and the begrudging, the bigoted and the intolerant. Anyone ready or eager to blame others is welcome in this tent, and they are many.

Theresa May behaves ever more like Basil Fawlty. She’s put all her hopes into her plan, her precious Chequers Agreement, yet tragically (it might look comical were it John Cleese rather than the Prime Minister) she appears utterly blind to the fact that nobody on any side agrees with her.

Ever since the referendum I’ve felt that no deal would be negotiated. At first I thought the process would stumble and fall over the Irish border, but incredibly the UK government hasn’t even agreed what they want yet.

My Dad used to talk about bringing things down to “the lowest common denominat” and this I heard out of the mouth of the new Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. After May sent her ministers all over Europe, hoping a good lunch might make the integrity of the Single Market crumble, Hunt started talking about something he called an "Accidental No Deal."

Nobody has the slightest clue what he meant, but Hunt then sank lower, going on to say that this would be the fault of the EU, and create a resentment in the English against Europeans that would last generations.

That was the first time we saw the desperate admission that No Deal was at the moment the only deal on the table.

Hunt presented the English lowest common denominator: It’s all the foreigners’ fault. We are better than them.

Instead of offering strong opposition, the Labour Party’s plan is ludicrous and unworkable, so when the UK drives over No Deal Cliffs in 8 months time, the English people will turn to somebody who sounds positive; someone who can use Churchillian rhetoric to stir the blood; to help them believe he can make Britain great again.

Sound familiar?

Living in and now thankfully a citizen of Ireland, this Englishman wonders whether Johnson is so deluded he truly believes he can build a successful economy from the ruins of a No Deal crash.

What hurts me most is the astonishing impact a No Deal Brexit will have on my adopted country.

According to the IMF, while other EU countries would suffer a fall of 1.5% in economic output, both the UK and the Republic of Ireland would be hit by a massive 4% drop.

That’s more than 50,000 Irish jobs gone, and a hard border with the North.

History has a cruel sense of humour. After centuries of occupation, the English still manage to devastate Ireland, even as they try to move further away.

©Charlie Adley

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