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May’s daze.


IF YOU HAD a thesaurus the size of the Oxford English Dictionary devoted entirely to synonyms for lying, incompetence and bad faith you would still not exhaust the ways of describing Theresa May. When she assumed the premiership just after the EU referendum in 2016 she had only one job to fulfil, to secure a decent withdrawal from the European Union. It was not going to be easy by any means but for all its complexity it should not have been beyond the abilities of the political and administrative class of a modern nation such as Britain to manage.

But so it turned out. What we have ended up with three years later is a withdrawal agreement no one agrees to (except May and her cronies – and the EU, obviously), an unnecessary general election conducted with consummate dullness by May that resulted in her losing her majority and thus forcing her into an accommodation with the DUP, repeated delays on the official leaving date, elections for the European parliament that look like proving the biggest punch in the face for the Tory Party since the repeal of the Corn Laws, rumours of a second referendum, a resurgent Farage with a new party, and an increasingly fractious electorate who are salivating at the chance of giving the politicians a good hiding. All because May has been duplicitous, mendacious, cack-handed and arrogant.

The emotions stirred up by May’s stupendous intransigeance, her inability to realise just how bad she is and how shameful it is for her to cling on to her position, are only exacerbated by the dimittwedness of the media.

The emotions stirred up by May’s stupendous intransigeance, her inability to realise just how bad she is and how shameful it is for her to cling on to her position, are only exacerbated by the dimittwedness of the media. The BBC (mirabile dictu!) aired a two-part documentary, Brexit: Behind Closed Doors, filmed in Brussels over the last couple of years, following Verhofstadt and his team. As the European parliament’s representative on Brexit matters, Verhofstadt is not the top EU negotiator yet the contemptuous attitude he and his team showed towards Britain was typical and illuminating. The documentary revealed an out of reach and out of touch political class that had no understanding of the British electorate or their reasons for wanting to leave the project. The only person to have voiced any such awareness was Michel Barnier, the main EU negotiator, who to his credit, realised Britain was undergoing an existential crisis. Airing the programme could hardly have come at a worse time for remainers since it did them no favours. It makes you wonder wonder what the BBC were thinking.

To call a second referendum as a way of solving the problem would be the most inadvisable, possibly dangerous course of action. Which is why, given the idiocy of May, it is very likely. It would mean firstly that the very people who run the country are admitting they aren’t up to their job, and secondly that they intend to halt Brexit altogether, since the majority of them never wanted to leave the EU to start with and remaining would be the easy option for them – which is why it is the one choice you can be guaranteed would be on offer.

What else would be on offer, of course, is another question. If accepting May’s deal, with or without a tacked-on customs union, is one of them, it would assume that somehow the electorate would know what it contains. So how many voters would locate a copy of the agreement and go through all 585 pages of it? How much information about it would be provided by our helpful media? I can’t see any of them, especially the BBC, providing clear and unspun details of the kind required for an intelligent decision, that’s for sure.

Whatever the outcome of that referendum it would not quell the widespread dissatisfaction in the country. On the contrary in would aggravate it. A significant part of the electorate would feel, quite rightly, that it was a political stitch-up in which they were being bounced into making a choice they did not want. It would be lighting the blue touch paper of something explosive. To coerce the people into accepting no Brexit would be the single most catastrophic blow the political establishment could receive – and one entirely self-inflicted. The loss of faith in our political system and its attendant institutions – civil service, media, and so on, is already lower than any of us has ever witnessed. The contempt and outright hatred for so many politicians by the people is only mirrored by the contempt in which they hold the voters. To go any further takes the country into unknown territory.

Such is the blinkered and self-obsessed mindset of these people, however, that they seem oblivious to it, even now. Theresa May most of all exemplifies the adamantine impenetrability to reality that characterises her milieu. She is the ultimate political solipsist, enwalled in her own world, inaccessible to all messages from outside except those from her coterie of yes-men. The Conservative Party as a whole seems more concerned with preventing itself from collapsing than with holding the country together and delivering an exit from the EU. From the outside it appears the Tory establishment is operating under the belief that it can still control what is happening, that it can survive the coming storm. It probably will survive but as a severely, perhaps fatally wounded animal. And for this they have themselves to blame. For years they have allowed themselves to abrogate their duties as lawmakers, deferring to the EU and becoming more technocratic in their approach to government; they have acquiesced back into a Heathite wetness of statism, shamelessly apeing the latest lefty fashions, from transgenderism to climate change. They should be sent to the knacker’s yard.

As should the Labour Party, which is no better, as if it need be said: they’re a poisonous heap of resentment, idiotic policies and Jew-hatred. Under Corbyn they’ve been playing a blatant shilly-shally approach to Brexit, hoping to keep both their leave and remain supporters onboard while angling for pure party benefit. They want nothing more than to bring the government down and take power themselves. They would have no more respect for the referendum vote then than the Tories. Inside the EU or outside would make no difference with them, they would scuttle the economy as a matter of principle.

Labour too, like the Tories, seem to think the situation can be brought under control, that if the Brexit beast can be put back in its cage it will be business as usual in the socio-political sphere. The establishment still have no idea of how big and all-encompassing this crisis is, since it is about more than just membership of the EU but is a widespread disillusion with government and authority at all levels. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn represent different faces of the same monolith. These are exceptional times, in which we need exceptional people, but all we get are poltroons and mediocrities. This truly is an existential crisis on a national scale. The establishment classes created the beast, collectively over the decades. It is breaking loose. They deserve to be devoured by it.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.

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