Despite the obvious serious implications for everybody inside and outside the EU you have to admit this whole Brexit situation is incredibly funny. I think the recent Westminster comings and goings could be described as Python Politics. One thing that is so sadly lacking in this monumental political situation is the famous British sense of humour!
From the point that Cameron decided to subject British society to the huge folly of a referendum in an attempt to pacify the right wing of the Tory party, we have been saddled by the embarrassment of ‘Basil Fawlty’ politics. I still believe that facts and truth will always reel in political fantasy in the end. Just this weekend there seems to be the possibility of practicality raising its head.
By the way, I think we should have a new definition of the word referendum. Something like, ‘A dangerous device only to be considered in the last resort, making sure that all the consequences are clear to all of the voting participants. Binary choices should be avoided at all costs so you don’t end up with very large numbers of disappointed and bitter people, which can divide whole nations.
So where are we with Brexit?!
It looks very unlikely we’re going to crash out of the European Union without a deal before the middle of April. The funny thing is that the outcome of Brexit is as likely to be dictated by accident as by the choices made by politicians! So let’s hope serendipity is kind. Theresa May is still under the delusion that her plan is sacred and any form of compromise is a defeat for her and British democracy. Despite what she says is in the best interests of the country, it seems her main aim is to implement a Brexit that doesn’t break up the Tory party - a thankless task. Recently she has shared a an alarming number of traits with the likes of Trump and Orban and exhibited contempt for the democracy she claims to uphold.
But hang on a minute, in any other circumstances we would be saying this woman Theresa May is absolutely bonkers; U-Turn after U-turn, ‘shoot yourself in the foot’ speeches to potential supportive politicians, absolute denial of reality and some body language usually seen only in psychiatric hospitals and Hitchcock films. Her stubborn sticking to her deal, previously seen as grim determination, now seems to be a farcical strategy of Pythonian proportions. The famous ‘dead parrot’ sketch comes to mind.
A few months ago there was still quite a lot of sympathy for Theresa May’s unenviable task, but her recent behaviour has left her isolated and vulnerable. Most sane leaders would have fallen on their swords by now, but even the self induced hung parliament has not succeeded in hanging Mrs May yet.
Because of the way the referendum was presented I don’t think there is any option that will end up pleasing a majority of British citizens. There is no one compromise deal that can deliver the result of such a binary referendum which by definition did not allow for any compromise. The question asked in the referendum was theoretical and bore no relation to practical reality and in fact reflected the current paranoia of many European democracies.
The short delay breathing space provided by the EU has not really made a ‘no deal’ scenario any less likely. In a matter of two weeks the British parliament need to come up with an alternative proposal from May’s deal or no deal. There is still no guarantee that any of the alternatives will command a majority at Westminster and indeed if they can be made constitutionally possible or delivered in such a short space of time.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I find this political situation absolutely fascinating. This is the biggest single political event that’s happened in my life time and believe me I do take it seriously. There is so much at stake but if only the politicians could stand back and see the ludicrous nature of the situation, maybe they could cast aside party political affiliations, career ambitions and find the best realistic compromise.
The recent sequence of events has been so bizarre that it’s impossible to predict what will happen in the short term. The EU has attempted to help precipitate some decisive action. I personally hope that the British parliament will gain overall control of the Brexit process this next week. Whatever the outcome there will be many long-term consequences of this whole debacle. Hopefully recriminations will not be as serious as those threatened by Python’s Cardinal Ximinez and his Spanish Inquisition!