Four and half months on and Brexit is still very much the issue ‘du jour’ on this side of the Atlantic. Other things have, of course, happened. Some as a direct result of the cataclysmic decision by the British electorate on the 23rd June, others entirely unrelated. Some of these should have distracted us, at least momentarily from Brexit, but, for the most part, it remains the unsightly elephant in the room. Or perhaps I mean the opposite of that. The elephant in the room is of course something that we shouldn’t ignore but we all do. Brexit is pretty much the ‘anti-elephant’. At this point we should be ignoring it but we can’t quite manage it. There are other things at play and Brexit can, and in fact will, have to wait.
It’s got to wait for Article 50 to be triggered and apparently that’s quite a complicated and lengthy process that no-one can agree on. Or maybe it’s just that we’ve got to wait for the other forty-nine articles to be triggered first.
At this point it seems precisely no-one.
Least of all me.
The most striking casualty of the whole Brexit phenomenon seems to have been Chilcot. A report that the entire country had been waiting for seven long years, an inquiry that should have been the big news story of the year with a verdict that was utterly damning in no uncertain terms about the honesty of a former Prime Minister and it was pretty much buried by Brexit. That it even made the front pages for a day is testament to the significance of Chilcot. That we’d forgotten it by the following weekend demonstrates what a political behemoth Brexit has become.
Other significant moments in the ever shifting political landscape of 2016 include the disappearance of David Cameron. No sooner had he unleashed the Brexit Bomb than he was seen running off-stage shouting “It wasn’t me!” referencing either Bart Simpson or Shaggy, depending on which cultural reference seems most appropriate.
Boris also sidled out the back door, citing the betrayal of Michael Gove as the main reason he wasn’t prepared to stick around and clear up the mess he had made. Although he’s somehow managed to end up becoming foreign secretary so might, arguably, be classed as one of the winners from the whole Brexit debacle.
The odious Gove (the only person I can say with absolute certainty that I would punch in the face if I met him) fared rather less well and has hopefully been confined to the political dustbin of history, though a bit of ‘Dad-dancing’ while failing to be an actual dad in recent weeks did once again boost him to front page status. Which is all he’s ever actually been interested in so expect more parental negligence from him in the near future.
The Tories were, and still are, in disarray post Brexit but they need not worry for their political opponents are faring rather worse. The main opposition should be the Labour Party and they are doing a great job at being oppositional. Unfortunately, less to the government and more to their own leader. A vote of no confidence by Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues resulted in a leadership challenge that seems to have further cemented his place at the top of the ‘red’ table. Worst coup ever?
We could briefly mention how the Lib Dems are getting on, but no-one really cares about the Lib Dems any more. Not even the Lib Dems themselves if they’re honest.
Despite only having one MP, UKIP became the third largest political party in terms of actual voters at the last general election. UKIP essentially are a one-policy party and their policy was Brexit. So they no longer have any purpose at all. Nige realised this and jumped ship almost immediately after the victory. He’s back though because they can’t seem to find anyone else who wants the job. Why no-one wants to be leader of the country’s most redundant political party is beyond me.
In amongst all this turmoil what we need is clear and strong leadership. And perhaps in Theresa May we do now have that.
Ok so she doesn’t represent any of the political ideals I hold dear, but she could actually be the right person for the job. Certainly she seems to be the least hateful of all the candidates who lined up to replace Irresponsible Dave.
A pro-remain politician in name, she seems to have wisely sat on the fence during the whole Brexit campaign and certainly isn’t detested by Brexiteers for the most part.
But she does keep saying something that confuses me.
One of her first ‘quotes’ on becoming PM was to assert quite forcefully that “Brexit means Brexit”.
A strong statement indeed.
But one that fails to answer the question that everyone needs an answer to.
Which is, what does Brexit actually mean?
Because it’s not obvious.
And just constantly reiterating that a word means that same word is not at all helpful really.
I mean one the one hand it is fairly clear – Brexit is an abbreviation of “British Exit” and it’s a term that was coined to simplify discussions surrounding the then potential, now seemingly imminent departure of the UK from the European Union.
But the problem, even with that definition, is that no-one can agree on what the separation of continent and country is actually going to look like.
And when the split between ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ was so narrow, you can forgive ‘Remainers’ for being more than a little bitter.
A Remain vote was based predominantly on ‘not wanting anything much to change’. That was, in many ways, the Remain campaign’s biggest problem. Few people arguing for ‘Remain’ really loved the EU, most of us just didn’t want inevitable economic uncertainty the voting to leave would trigger. Voting for the status quo was quite sensible but of course ‘sensible’ is not especially exciting.
The ‘Leave’ campaign was based on misleading statistics, erroneous statements, and the bright promise of a future that no-one could ever possibly deliver.
It was so ill-defined as a concept that now no-one really knows what is going to happen.
Unexciting and uninspiring though the Remain campaign was, it was largely unified, whereas Brexit could conceivably mean so many different things that if you re-examine the outcome of the referendum, 48% actually seems like a sizeable majority when compared to say 10% who wanted Brexit but to remain part of the single market, 15% who wanted Brexit but to leave the single market and 27% who wanted Brexit because they thought it would reduce immigration even though it actually won’t. I made up those statistics obviously but hopefully you get my point.
Anyway here we are, and Article 50 has yet to be triggered, so Brexit is still very much a twinkle in The Daily Mail’s metaphoric eye.
But it still dominates the news even though it isn’t even happening or likely to happen for ages.
And the only tangible thing that is happening is we’re all getting slowly poorer as the value of the pound decreases and prices in the shops go up.
But, for the first time in ages, a bigger political monster is rearing its strangely coiffured head.
Maybe comparing an ill-defined concept with an actual person is unfair but in many ways Trump is quite a lot like Brexit. His popularity seems to be based on similar dissatisfaction with the established political elite. His outlandish promises seem to be hewn from the same horse-manure that Farrage and his ilk peddled in the build up to June 23rd.
I shouldn’t care who wins the US election, Britain is now too broken for events across the pond to make anything that much worse for us.
And Hillary is a far from perfect candidate, so I get why she might not have the total support of the US population.
But in the event that you are reading this and you do have a stake in the forthcoming US Presidential Election (presumably by being an actual American), all I can offer is the following advice:
Your vote does count so don’t be an idiot.
Do with that advice what you will.