The UK’s Brexit plans are starting to make CoCo the Clown look like a serious minded bean counter who ran away from the circus to join a firm of chartered accountants. There are paradoxes mused upon by ancient Greek philosophers which are clear cut and straightforward in comparison to the UK’s Brexit strategy. Zeno famously argued that an arrow can’t move because at any given instant in the arrow’s flight no time has elapsed in which the arrow can travel. And it seems that the Conservative government’s Brexit strategy can’t take any steps forward because at any given instant Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, and David Davis can’t extract their feet from their mouths.
This week Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament’s lead negotiator on Brexit, took to Facebook to mock Theresa May’s three stooges. The UK government claims that it doesn’t want to say anything about Brexit because it doesn’t want to reveal its hand, but when the guy leading the negotiating team you’ll be facing takes to social media to rip the pish out of you, it’s pretty much a safe bet that he’s got every confidence that the only cards in your hand are jokers. Then you look at Boris, Liam, and Davie and you realise he’s right. And then you stare wide eyed sitting bolt upright in your bed at night when you remember that these idiots are deciding your future, your kids’ future, and the futures of generations yet to be born.
Boris has been in Turkey this week, hoping that the Turkish leader won’t remember that poem that Boris wrote about him a few years ago. He promised to do all he could to help Turkey join the EU, which is a bit like a drunk guy who’s just been ejected from a nightclub for peeing on the stage after he’d grabbed the mic in order to regale the crowd with a racist ditty about the Turkish guy outside promising to do all he can to get the Turkish guy past the bouncers. Amazingly, Erdogan smiled and nodded, although he’s got his hands full these days imprisoning journalists for disrespecting the Turkish state. Boris has never been more grateful that he didn’t inherit Turkish citizenship from his Ottoman great-grandparent. The ottoman in question was an empty vessel, an attribute that Boris has inherited in full.
Meanwhile Liam has been touring the world with his pal Adam Werrity, trying to flog trade deals with the UK like a pair of encylopedia salesmen who’ve never heard of Wikipedia. He wants Britain to leave the single market, because he thinks other markets are more important, but he still wants the UK to have full access to the EU. Liam is the guy in a shared flat who helps himself to the contents of his flatmates’ shelves in the fridge but labels his own cornflakes and puts a padlock on his tin of chocolate hobnobs. People like Liam are the reason that when the UK voted to leave the EU, there was no great effort to get us to remain, instead half of Europe sighed with relief.
Britain is opposed to any moves in the EU to create a common defence policy, and continues to block and put up obstacles, even though the UK is leaving. Then the same defence minister who’s blowing up Europe’s plans announces that the UK wants a closer and deeper defence relationship with the EU after Brexit. There are leaders of the Labour party in Scotland who show greater consistency. Not that Labour cares. The party didn’t debate Brexit during its party conference.
Labour doesn’t care about Brexit, and it sure as hell doesn’t care about Scotland either. Jeremy Corbyn’s speech saw fit to mention only that his party has won three council by-elections in Scotland, showing a staggering ignorance of how Scotland’s local authority voting system works. Labour actually lost votes and continues to lose them. You won’t get free Scotland in a speech by Jeremy, but it will be Scotland-free.
Jeremy gave an English speech for an English party. A rebirth of socialism in England’s green and pleasant land. It’s all very fine and noble, but as long as Labour remains divided and its representatives more interested in attacking each other then it will remain unelectable. Which may be just as well, as the right of the party decided to criticise the speech for not being rivers of blood enough. That’s the driving issue in English politics these days, a narrow minded nationalism that’s set on turning its back to the world while demanding that the world accede to its every demand. Because Britain is special. We had an empire you know. Forgetting that the tense in that sentence is past, and Britain’s capacity to bend other states to its will has gone the way of Tony Blair’s reputation.
The UK is the Jerry Springer guest of Europe. Increasingly nasty, increasingly fractuous, Britain is the trash with an attitude who swaggers across the European stage screaming “You don’t know me!” while demanding that everyone else puts up with their bad behaviour. Everyone else has to accommodate Britain’s demands, but no one is allowed to demand anything in return. The problem the UK government has is that the other governments of the EU know it all too well.
Like the guests on the Jerry Springer show the UK is going to discover that it won’t solve its problems by shouting, screaming and stamping its foot. Instead the United Kingdom is in for a painful lesson in national humiliation. There will be no free access to the single market without freedom of movement of people. The Tories only want freedom of movement for their money. Shambling, incoherent and inarticulate, and the agent of its own misfortune, Britain will fall off the European stage to the accompaniment of the jeers and boos and derisory laughter of an unsympathetic audience.
But they’re not laughing at a Scotland that wants to remain a part of the EU. They’re not laughing at a Scotland that’s doing all it can to reassure EU citizens and to remain a part of the European family. They’re going to welcome us with open arms. Guy Verhofstadt is mocking Westminster, but he’s taking Holyrood very seriously indeed. Scotland was told by scoffing howling British nationalists that we were too poor, too wee, too weak and that Europe wouldn’t want us. Who’s laughing now?
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-28th-sept-2016
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