Saturday 1 October 2016

May is heading for the Exit from Brexit

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

'No more than the politicians, the people don’t want to be held accountable either' Cartoon: Jim Cogan
'No more than the politicians, the people don’t want to be held accountable either' Cartoon: Jim Cogan

There will be no Brexit.

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Last week they moved it back again, with Theresa May suggesting that the famous Article 50 might not be triggered until late 2017 , an advance on the original procrastination till early 2017. Which would mean that your actual Brexit might be delayed to late 2019.

But there will be no Brexit.

This was clear from the moment that Theresa May declared that "Brexit means Brexit", a statement of such masterful meaninglessness it suggested that the people who run Britain had already regained some of their composure, after being briefly stunned by a blow to the head from the dreaded Joe Public.

Theresa May, it must be remembered, is a person who was introduced to her future husband by one Benazir Bhutto while they were all students at Oxford - thus she is not the sort of person who would respond obediently to the incoherent demands of the masses, especially on a matter of some importance.

Indeed the main reason that people like Theresa May go up to Oxford is not just to be introduced to their future husbands by Benazir Bhutto, but to learn the ways of dark power, to ensure that the United Kingdom will never be led astray by the passing whims of the hoi polloi. To know what to do if and when the nation goes mad for a while, as it had clearly done with Brexit.

Cameron made a catastrophic error in leaving this one to "the people", but in the swiftness of the response you could see the ancient reflexes of a ruling caste stirring again.

First there was the liquidation of Andrea Leadsom which avoided a leadership contest and another season of ghastliness, as if to announce that the joke was over, that these characters such as Leadsom or Nigel Farage who had somehow escaped from some terrible old English sit-com to cause such trouble in the world, were no longer to be countenanced.

Indeed Farage's latest contributions, which include trying to grow a moustache and being seen in a queue at the German embassy, are so redolent of a preposterous English sit-com character we can be doubly grateful for his apparent retreat from public life - history tells us it's the ones who are laughed at who are the most dangerous.

So Leadsom was taken out and Farage took himself out and then there was "Brexit means Brexit", a line of such consummate construction it can only have been formed in the mind of some supreme operator, someone akin to the fabled "men in the grey suits" who decide what must be done in these tricky situations.

Brexit may mean Brexit, but since it's a word that didn't even exist a few months ago, since nobody really knows what Brexit means or even what it might look like, May was just making a noise which wouldn't alarm the nationalist agitators in the room, but which would indicate to those who have been left to clear up the wreckage that already she is looking for the Exit from Brexit.

That first statement of May's defining her approach to Brexit could have been so many things, so many wrong things.

It could have been something straightforward like, "Brexit means that we will be leaving the EU," it could even have set a time frame for it or something equally bovine, but then that would have indicated an actual desire on her part to leave the EU, and somehow you feel that that is not the style of those who are introduced to their future husbands at Oxford by Benazir Bhutto.

Leaving the EU is more the style of a bunch of geezers on a stag night sticking their heads out the window of a taxi-cab and shouting some xenophobic abuse to anyone who seems to them a bit unusual. That was essentially the spirit of the 'Leave' campaign, and it is just one of the many reasons why the people who run Britain are in no rush to trigger Article 50 or any other Article which would give effect to such barbarian nonsense.

Unfortunately a lot of time and money will have to be wasted now, finding a way not to implement Brexit. Indeed in one not entirely implausible scenario, Britain will not be leaving the EU because there will be no EU any more for Britain to leave.

But this is also a good time in the world for just forgetting about things, for pretending that what happened didn't really happen at all - Trump is running his campaign with this attitude, Trump who actually impersonated a disabled person and just moved on like it was nothing at all.

But it isn't just Trump who doesn't want to be held accountable for anything. No more than the politicians, the people don't want to be held accountable either - certainly many of the people who wanted Brexit have already stated that what happens next is nothing to do with them, mate, while some of them now wish that their referendum win hadn't happened at all.

For them, the consolation is that they haven't won anything yet, nor will they.

Last week too the zealot John Redwood said that this talk about Brexit being delayed was "idle chatter", that Theresa May wanted to "get on with it".

And she is getting on with it.

Getting on with something anyway.

Sunday Independent

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