Five Questions

Five Questions About… the Dutch Brexit Muppet!

I simply cannot believe this is the world we’ve built around us.
February 15, 2019, 12:35pm
Netherlands Brexit muppet and Stek Blof
(Photo via Twitter/Stef Blok)

When you cast your vote on the 23rd of June 2016, did you ever think that through a series of gear-turns and butterfly wing-flaps and seismic bureaucratic doings and undoings, did you ever think the little pencil X you marked in a box would lead to this sentence: “Oh my God… The Dutch government has finally unveiled its Brexit muppet…”. Because that is a sentence, now. That is a sentence that has happened. Look upon the horror we have wrought:

Key words to note: ‘Dutch government’; ‘unveiled’; ‘ finally’ (emphasis author’s own)(!); ‘Brexit muppet’. My mind, like yours, is ablaze. My mind, like yours, is now so Brexit-addled I can’t help but think I am hallucinating this, that I have finally tipped off the steep cliff of Brexit and given myself over mentally to the wind, that somewhere – in a normal country, in a normal universe, one where Brexit isn’t happening, self-inflicted, again and again, unto us – I am a gibbering wreck, sat upright and foaming, and my colleagues cannot understand why my brain just died. My mind, like yours, is full of questions. Here are five of them:


Hello, I’m haunted. Look into the lid-less eyes of the beast. Look at the faux-fun pose of Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok. The louche, Brentish pose of Brexit. The limitlessly long limbs. Is the blue fluff significant? It is unclear what metaphors and analogies the aesthetic decisions of the Brexit muppet hint at. It has no mouth and cannot scream. It has undefined fingers and no real toes. It is a blob, a form, without a defined and hard-detailed shape. It is wearing a white t-shirt that says ‘Brexit’. The monster wears skinny jeans. “Augh,” Blok’s exasperated pose seems to say, his body acting but his face failing to catch up, politicians so famously unable to look like anything but aliens in photographs. “Someone has smeared Brexit all over my desk!” Like cream cheese on a bagel. Like a shadow on the ground. Like shit on a wall. Brexit is here, and it stares at you like hell came up and took the form of a puppet.


Was wondering just how hard to go in on Stef Blok – a politician I’ve never heard of and who has absolutely no impact on my life, at all – and how he sort of looks like on of the janky old Victorian-era puppets that inspired Pinnochio, but checked with a representative from the Dutch office and apparently he’s one of those politicians – every country has one – where he made a load of unstellar comments about refugees and multiculturalism in front of a community of ex-pats, thinking he was off the record but very much not being off the record, and then did one of those political sorry-if-anyone-was-offended non-apologies, then weeks later launched a huge looming blue lidless Brexit monster and posed like a marionette next to it, so I’m willing to put my nuts on the line and say that he is: ‘a baddy’. And I suppose this is the chicken–egg question: are all politicians fundamentally embarrassing human beings, and that’s what magnetically draws them into government? Or is it possible to be cool (or at least normal) and then be voted in as an MP, and the weight of the job is what bends and curls upon you to be a weird nerd who can’t stop being racist or posing like a Babadook in photographs? Impossible to know really.


I always assumed Brexit was a peculiarly British affliction, a self-inflicted gunshot wound painful only to us, the entirety of Britain jumping en masse onto a grenade we threw on the ground to contain the explosion and protect the rest of Europe from it. But what the Brexit muppet is saying is: no. As the messaging in the Netherlands makes clear, our impending decision to rule ourselves out of the EU (and, let’s be honest, probably on a No Deal) will make waves across Europe in the countries that trade and interact regularly with us. “Make sure Brexit doesn’t sit – or lie – in your way,” Blok tweeted, next to the large haunting blue monster he presumably commissioned to be created, like a serial murderer might ask one of his captives to sew a load of old ears together. The Dutch government launched a special website to warn businesses small and large to prepare for Brexit: it’s feared that, if nothing else, Britain’s EU exit could cause a shortage in medical supplies, as well as complicating the paperwork for bread-and-butter import/export. I assumed Europe’s reaction to Brexit would be a sort of bread-and-tapas street party vibe with some good-natured football-rivalry style Vs up at us while BBC News plays footage of Big Ben symbolically bonging us out of Europe, but no – this isn’t just a catastrophe inflicted just upon ourselves. Your dad’s conviction that “well we won two world wars and had an empire, we’ll be fine out of Europe” won’t just mess this country up, it’s causing a real shit-on-the-desk headache across the rest of the continent, too.


… add that goes double with the attendant mania. British Brexit Mania (B.B.M.) has been on display from the start: the amateur YouTube songs, the naked Remain woman, the entire outcome of the vote. Brexit, for a long time, has been making from smoke a clear shape that this isn’t just a bureaucratic vote gone awry, or a groundswell of anti-immigration policy given a voice and a face, but actually something deeper, something inherent to Britain: a sort of crazed curse, deep runs under the very soil we walk on cracking open, a dark mythic energy, an otherworldly spiral of blackness, poisoning everything it touches. And that was fine when it was just Britain – just British people waving flags off bridges, just British people remembering the war as ‘a good thing’, just British people writing “BREXIT” on our tits – but actually, as Dutch Brexit Muppet proves, this poison has made its way to the European well. This Britain-wide mania, that we’ve all long-since accepted as the new normal, has now made the four-hour Eurostar trip abroad.

Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? For logic’s sake, a bad one: for our hopes of surviving the next three years without all dying on rotten food stocks, probably quite good. What I am saying is: if the Netherlands has caught a bout of the particular Brexit lunaticism we are all afflicted with – and I can only assume from their Foreign Minister posing with a long blue monster that yes, they absolutely have – it’s going to play in our favour when we have to go to them, cap in hand, begging for ration packs in circa six months’ time.


Mate Holland just made a blue and unerring muppet to signify the chaos of Brexit. Rachel Johnson got them out for Remain on Sky News last night. We’re going to leave Europe with No Deal and I can only predict an at least eight-month adjustment period where we're plunged into supply chain chaos as a result of it. Ambulances lying derelict on abandoned roads. Distant siren sounds. Birds no longer chirping in the trees. All of us, at home, eating kidney beans straight from the can. And it’s all because Big Davey Cameron wanted to win some UKIP lads over so promised them a doomed referendum. This is literally all happening because Nigel Farage didn’t like French cigarettes and had an idea in the pub to fuck them for it. Look around us at what we have wrought. Look into the deep, endlessly blank eyes of the Brexit muppet. Look what we have done.