There is a theory that there is an infinite number of universes, that this universe we live in is just one reality in a countless myriad of realities which stretch out forever in the vastness of the possible, as limitless and unending as Ruth Davidson’s estimation of her own ability. If that’s true, then it means that there is no fiction, and there is no imagination, all that can be thought or conceived in the mind is actually happening somewhere in the multiverse. It is as real as the cup of tea you’re drinking. As real as the screen upon which you read these words. Although it’s still true to say that there is no universe anywhere in which Fluffy Mundell does anything useful.
The human brain is has evolved as a glorious device for travelling across the boundaries of different realities, untrammelled by time, untrapped by space. Whenever you dream your mind is falling through different universes in which the absurd is really taking place, where there is no reason or sense, where the ridiculous is truth and the ludicrous is mundane. And then you wake up and turn on the TV news to see the glaikit faces of David Davis and David Mundell and discover that we are in fact living in one of those absurdist universes which the consciousness of someone from a sensible universe comes careening through in their dreams. Then they wake up to tell their significant other about the weird dream they just had, set in a place where nothing made sense.
We’re stuck here and no amount of pulling the duvet over your head will make it go away. You can pinch yourself and all that will happen is you feel even more pain. The only redeeming feature about this bloody dream state of the UK is that it doesn’t have Donald Trump as president. But it does have Theresa May as Prime Minister so that’s not saying much. Sometimes the best you can do is to pull yourself into a foetal ball and gently rock yourself into oblivion.
Before Brexit negotiations started, Theresa May haughtily refused to say what she wanted out of Brexit, refusing to reveal her hand before negotiations started. Unfortunately she’s not prepared to show her hand even after negotiations started. This is not unrelated to the fact that Captain Hook has one more hand than Theresa does. And these are the people who claimed that only they could provide strong and stable government. These are the people who told Scotland that we need the broad shoulders of the UK to support us. We’re governed by a British government which is made up of bunch of clueless opportunists who’re making it all up as they go along, whose idea of success is that they’ll be able to salvage their own careers from the wreckage.
In a sensible universe, the leaders of our government would make careful and detailed preparations for something with such a huge impact as Brexit. There would be briefing papers. There would be policy positions. There would be a bloody plan. But this is a dreamland, and all we have is David Davis with his finger in his ear, making it up as he goes along, and mugging to the camera. Not to have a plan, is the plan. Perhaps our sleepwalking Tory government imagines that by not having a plan the fiendish plans devised by the EU to frustrate the UK plan will be derailed because the UK doesn’t have a plan after all.
Michel Barnier was clearly frustrated by the progress of the talks. “We make better progress when our respective positions are clear,” he said during the press conference after his brief meeting with David Davis. Davie stood there with his finger in his ear, smiling and nodding, although if he really was listening to the simultaneous translation he wouldn’t have been smiling at all. He might as well have been listening to the latest track from Beyoncé on BBC Radio 1, and indeed he possibly was. He certainly wasn’t tuned in to the EU.
According to numerous reports in the press, the EU is finding it impossible to negotiate with the UK because they have no clear idea of what the UK wants to get out of negotiations. But then that’s hardly surprising, because the UK doesn’t have any clear idea of what the UK wants to get out of negotiations. The position of Brexiteers in the government appears to be that the UK needs to leave the EU, not pay any money, but still enjoy all the benefits of EU membership. EU citizens will no longer be free to settle in the UK, but UK citizens should still be free to settle in the EU. The British want something that only exists in one of those surreal universes, only this time not the one which we’re inhabiting.
The only thing that anyone knows for certain about the UK’s position on Europe is that time is running out and the Tory party is far more interested in jockeying for position and briefing against fellow cabinet ministers than in establishing a sensible and realistic position on Brexit. Cabinet infighting has reached such a fever pitch of briefing, counter-briefing, slur, and counter-slur, that the only cabinet member that no one has said a bad word about is David Mundell. But that’s only because no one thinks it’s necessary to slag off a stuffed toy that sits uncomprehendingly in the corner of the room. Although to be honest, a stuffed toy is at least more decorative.
In a statement to the press late this week, environment secretary Michael Gove stated that the cabinet is united on the need for a Brexit transitional period. Michael is probably the only cabinet member who thinks that Theresa May’s cabinet is united, and from his perspective they cabinet is indeed solidly united. But that’s only because they all hate him. This is one of the very few instances in which the rest of the Conservative cabinet has its finger on the pulse of public opinion.
The nightmare continues in its senseless and irrational way. There might not be much we can do to save the UK, but the thing about dreams is that eventually something so stupid, so unexpected, so shocking happens, that you wake up with a start. One day very soon Scotland is going to wake up. The alarm clock will be going off any day now.
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