Three(???) Days to Go: WTF Is Happening with Brexit?
Theresa May's epic dithering risks more than the future of the Tory party.
Image via @theresa_may Twitter account
For all the far-right bangs on about Islam these days, it’s the creeping influence of Hinduism that should concern us all. The signs are there – every alternate Friday, since anyone can remember, Britain is reincarnated and begins the process of leaving the European Union all over again.
This Friday is much like any other. We are due to leave the European Union. We will not leave the European Union. Then we will try to leave the European Union.
On Wednesday, the PM will once again be heading to Brussels. Once again, she will be asking for an extension – the last extension having proved to be a piss-poor waste of everyone’s valuable time. May would like a short one – until the 30th of June, the last day before we’d have to send our representatives to the newly elected European Parliament. We’d then aim to get a deal done by the 22nd of May so that we didn’t have to waste £100 million on holding European elections in order to send them 55 Nigel Farages.
But what May wants is not necessarily what May gets. The EU will decide our fate this time and the mood music is starting to feel a lot more ominous. For a start, French president Emmanuel Macron has spent the week going around telling everyone he will do something that he definitely won’t do. Macron says he’d like Britain to be shown the door on Friday. That a further extension is bad - too much uncertainty, too much focus on Brexit. And as every nation of the 27 EU members has a veto, he is well within his rights. Except that no French president would never want to carry the can for scuppering the German auto industry. So why is he lying?
Perhaps the clue lies with EU Council President Donald Tusk, who spent last week tweeting out words of mercy and conciliation to Britain. Can you spell “good cop bad cop”? Tusk has been talking up the idea of a “flextension” – a late contender for “worst Brexit-related neologism” – a flexible extension, perhaps of a year, keeping us renewed up until the 29th of March 2020. It would mean we could leave at any time before then… if we did agree a Deal.
If that sounds fair enough, remember there might be a catch. The cops always want you to meet them in the middle, remember. There’s one more tantalising prospect that could come out of Wednesday’s EU summit: The EU could demand a “confirmatory referendum” (con-dum) in order to give out its flextension. May would be forced to accept – it is the EU’s decision on whether she gets an extension, and she’s already ruled out No Deal, and so has Parliament.
As for May’s last and only get-out card, the deja vu summit with Corbyn? Four days in, and there are as yet no rumours of a solution. In fact, there are so few rumours of anything that it seems like the rumour mill got so bored that it shot itself. While the EU has a lot to lose from a No Deal, a flextension would scare all the PM’s Hard Brexiteers so witless they’d back her resurrected zombie deal.
Perhaps anticipating precisely this scenario, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been piling in on the rhetoric, arguing for Saddam-style scorched earth tactics. If we’re kept in past the EU elections, he tweeted, the UK should “veto any increase in the EU budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes”.
If that sounds panicked, it is. It’s a symptom of quite how much Brexiteers now sense they’ve miscalculated. Every way they run the numbers, their options have been closed off one by one.
Another sign: Mark Francois wrote to the 1922 Committee, the Tory body that arranges
leadership challenges on Monday, asking for an “indicative vote” on whether the PM still commands their confidence. “Hers is a classic example of hubris,” Francois opined (and yes, opined is his only speaking-verb). “And after hubris, comes nemesis and after nemesis comes psoriasis, the reason we’re itching to leave Europe”. Right. Very good. Nice. Very clever. Now when will you fuck off?
Any political sect that feels trapped in a burning building this week can at least content themselves with the knowledge that they will not die alone – the whole system is about to be burned to the ground.
Last Friday morning gave us the results of the Newport West by-election. Labour hung onto a safe seat, but they lost ground – they were down 12 percent, the Tories were down eight, while UKIP trebled their vote.
Populism is not even close to peaking: The Pirate Party is riding high in the polls for the Czech elections – and the Czech Republic is still a relatively well-run middle-income country that hasn’t just collapsed in a historic faceplant.
Just yesterday, the Hansard Society released a survey suggesting that Britons are itching for a strongman to shake up their politics, while an unprecedented 77 percent now think the system requires “radical change”.
Far from just bringing down the Tory party, every day May is allowed to go on in her cosmic dither, she summons the Shiva The Destroyer, unleashing the very forces that will shatter her Old Order. Look at her works, ye mighty, and despair.