At least we can’t complain any more that we don’t know what Brexit means. It means xenophobia and a dangerous dalliance in the foothills of fascism. It means secret lists of foreigners. It means a plummeting pound. But mostly it means telling different people different things in the hope that they don’t actually communicate with one another. The UK government’s attempts to square the circle on Brexit consist largely of pointing at a circle and swearing blind that it’s a square. It is so a square, even though it’s as round and vacant as Boris Johnson, it just has an infinite number of very tiny corners.
Within the past few days on the one hand we’ve had the Fluffmonster Mundell telling Scotland that if we go for independence there’s going to be a border that’s harder than the look on Ruth Davidson’s face when she’s told that the buffalo she’s sitting on for a photo op is going to vote for independence, while on the other hand Northern Irish secretary James Brokenshire has been claiming that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the south because the UK and Ireland will share data to stop migrants entering the UK via the Republic. Obviously this won’t apply to an independent Scotland because, just like our infamous inability to operate TV cameras, we’re too stupid to cope with computers.
What we’ve discovered as a result of this episode is that when the Brexiteers said that they wanted to take back control of Britain’s borders, what they really meant was that they wanted to sub-contract control of the borders to the Irish. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise, because when they said that they wanted to take back control for the sovereign British Parliament, we now know that what they actually meant was for all control to be vested in a sovereign Theresa May and parliament isn’t going to get any say in the matter at all.
For their part the Irish have reacted to the idea that they’ll become the border police for British xenophobes in much the same way that Nigel Farage would react if he discovered that he’d be getting an Irish speaking Eritrean refugee as a lodger. Ireland has already got rid of British nationalistic xenophobes once before, it has no intention of inviting them back in. The attitude in Ireland is that it’s British intransigence and stupidity which has caused this problem, it’s up to Britain to fix it.
The point however, is that the only clear Brexit strategy that the British government has got is telling different things to different people in the hope that it won’t get found out. Scotland gets told that we’ll have to have a hard border complete with barbed wire and Ruth Davidson’s burly men, while Ireland gets told that there’s no need at all for border controls and checks and the existing open border can continue. The British government is like a drunk guy at a party shouting loud abuse and thinking that people on the other side of the room can’t hear him.
You might imagine, having stamped their wee red white and blue shod feet and ensured that Scotland gets to enjoy the same Brit bedecked telly as the rest of the UK without a Scottish national channel of our own, that our Unionist masters might have realised that Scottish viewers get to see the same news as the rest of the UK. So when a British government minister threatens Scotland with something dire that will happen in the event of Scottish independence, but another British government minister says the exact opposite to someone else, there is no except for viewers in Scotland to ensure that Scots aren’t going to learn about it.
This doesn’t stop them. When they’re not telling different things to different people, they’re saying something different to what they were saying a short while ago in the hope that our memories are shorter than a goldfish’s, or the career of a UKIP party leader. When the pound fell slightly just before the Scottish independence referendum, this was a sign of impending financial armageddon and supporters of independence ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for creating economic uncertainty. However when the arse fell out of the pound following the Brexit vote, and now when commission is taken into account it one pound won’t buy you one euro, this is a good thing because it’s a marvellous opportunity for British exporters and not a catastrophic instability at all. It’s just a shame that Britain is a net importer then isn’t it.
We were told during the indyref that we needed the stability of the pound and were threatened that we’d have to sign up to the euro, which at the time was mired in crisis. That threat looks pretty hollow now. The euro has stabilised, but it’s the pound which is crashing through the floor, and there’s no guarantee that it won’t fall further. Scotland doesn’t need the pound, we can have our own currency, but the pound needs Scotland. If Scotland was to leave the UK the pound would go into freefall.
That security of the world’s fifth largest economy isn’t looking so secure after all, especially not after Theresa May’s speech at the Tory party conference when she boasted that the UK was the world’s fifth largest economy, and the financial markets looked at what was going on in the UK and it promptly dropped to the sixth largest. There are more Guardian politics editors with a grasp of what’s going on in Scottish politics than there are Tories who can provide security and stability to Scotland. The only security the Tories can provide us is the security of being handcuffed to a narcissistic xenophobic bigot with an entitlement complex. Our job is to make the xenophobes feel like they’re really internationalists because Scotland’s a part of the family of nations that does as it’s told.
We’re going to be in for a lot more of this over the months ahead. There will be threats, there will be hypocrisy, there will be promises of invisible jam. There will be a lot of telling different stories to different people in the hope that they won’t be found out. But we’ve heard it all before. Next time it’s not going to work. They’ve been found out.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-10th-oct-2016
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