The politics of the declining British imperial state have certainly become a lot more interesting lately. It’s like watching one of those slow-mo helicopter crashes in some action movie. All the whirly bits fly off in every direction, causing unpredictable carnage as they slice through the soft flesh of the body politic.
To most people’s surprise, those who led us back across the Channel and out of the EU, while bravely scaling the walls of the Establishment they were already sitting in, have gone AWOL. Having promised us a plan, it seems they had none. Their flat pack version of Brexit not only had all the screws missing but most of the bits you screw together.
Boris Johnson’s cultivated image of a shambling upper-class twit turned out to be no carefully cultivated image at all. It was real. He was just a power-hungry chancer who hadn’t a clue what to do after the vote. Immediately wavering and seemingly on the verge of rolling back on all the impossible promises he’d made to the voters, he was fatally damaged by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch declared against him on the 29th, expressing his preference for his friend Michael Gove. And sure enough Gove, the unlikely Brutus to BoJo’s Caesar, duly complied and put Johnson out of his misery. Boris will now be left to prowl the TV studios for years, haunting Cameron’s successor, a reminder of the nightmare that might have been.
Meanwhile, the nightmare that is – the five Tory leadership candidates – will soon be whittled down as someone, anyone, is pushed forward rather than the unctuous Gove who, having done the dirty deed, will now be shunned by all decent Tories. Of course, in a month or two, they’ll all be great mates again as they manoeuvre for that plum government job while continuing to stab each other merrily in the back in unattributed statements at lunch meetings with the journalists of the Tory press. The inept plotters and wannabe leaders of Labour’s parliamentary party need to take a lesson from the sheer ferocious ruthlessness of the public school politics on the other side.
We’re in for a prolonged period of pass the parcel, as the suicide bomb of triggering Article 50 is hastily hurled from Cameron to Brexiters to some Tory woman who’ll wait for it to explode in her face sometime later this year or next.
While all this unfolds Farage has done a runner. Just 24 hours after hobnobbing with Rupert Murdoch at a weekend shindig (is there a pattern emerging here) he resigns. Third time lucky? Although he’s considerately decided to stay on as an MEP while the UK remains a member, which looks like some time to come as no-one has dared to start the clock ticking yet. This’ll force him to go on reluctantly pocketing his £73,000 a year plus generous expenses, all for being rude to European parliamentarians. Nice job if you can get it, although most of those who voted Brexit won’t. Or probably get any jobs come to that. But they’ll feel better. Or will they?
In the long run there’s likely to be a helluva hangover as Brexit begins to impact. As the months pass it will slowly percolate through the skulls of the 17 million who voted leave that they’ve been sold a pup. Control will still be in the hands of a tiny minority of global super-rich. Immigration will not stop, let alone ‘they’ be sent back. The NHS will still be chronically underfunded as preparations continue for its sale to the elite that is no longer ‘in control’. Because we’ve got ‘our’ country back. Except of course we haven’t. Especially in Cornwall.
As they realise they’ve been serially shafted, the angry, who seem to be everywhere these days, are likely to turn to a more openly and less hypocritically racist party than the Tories/Ukip, unless a credible progressive alternative emerges. Either the BNP or some other new far right party will rise like a phoenix from the fascist ashes, irresponsibly stoked by Ukip and the Europhobic right of the Conservative Party.
Don’t despair though. Cornwall could always apply to become the 5th/6th department of Brittany and restore our historic links with our Breton cousins. And if you haven’t already read it, look on the bright side as the Brexit silver linings are identified.