Glossary of terms
No Deal – A policy by which we expect to get a better trade agreement with the EU by paying them nothing than we could have got by paying £39 billion.
Labour Party Deal – An approach that would see us leave the EU while remaining in it.
Indicative Vote – A process in which 650 MPs say exactly what type of Brexit they’d like, if any, and 650 votes are then held to see which is the most popular. (Probable winner: T. May)
People’s Vote – A new idea in which the British people get to vote on whether they want to leave the EU. So not at all the same as the Referendum or the General Election.
Citizens’ Assembly – A new democratic concept in which a representative group of British people get together to decide whether we should leave the EU. Not to be confused with Parliament.
… from Hilaire Belloc. For those who still think that, in the end, all this will make much difference:
The accursed power which stands on Privilege
(And goes with Women, and Champagne, and Bridge)
Broke – and Democracy resumed her reign:
(Which goes with Bridge, and Women and Champagne.)
Columnae delirium Brexititis
This is a dangerous new disease which affects newspaper columnists, especially those who have spent a lifetime offering calm, considered, objective opinions. It is so contagious that almost every columnist has now caught it. The symptoms are a total divorce from reality, an inability to separate prejudiced guesswork from fact, and a failure to appreciate that the bubble in which they now live 24/7 is filled with nothing but hot air.
The otherwise estimable Matthew Parris caught the disease some while ago. Having, within living memory, written a column in which he appeared to support leaving the EU, he has turned, since the referendum, first into a disgruntled Remainer, then into a rabid Remainer, and now into an obsessive Remainer. His latest thesis (which he buttresses with a great deal of cod psychology) is that the hardline Brexiteers don’t really want to leave the EU at all: they simply want to be permanently angry that we are still in it. This, he thinks, is the only explanation for why they voted against the May deal.
No. They voted against the May deal because – as far as they were concerned – it was no better than remaining in the EU and it was worth holding out for a ‘proper’ Brexit because, if they don’t get it now, they never will. This is entirely rational, whatever else it is. (And reading a thousand columns by Matthew Parris that all say the same thing in different ways is like going on an extended holiday with a friend who has just been ditched by their partner and insists on boring you about it a thousand times over.)
It seems that the equally estimable Danny Finkelstein has also caught the virus. His column in The Times the day after the vote on the deal was an extended rant against the hardline Brexiteers. He said that their treachery in voting down the deal now justified him in ignoring the result of the referendum. But let’s do the maths. If every member of the ERG and DUP had supported the deal, the Government would still have lost by about 70 votes. If Finkelstein is so angry that the deal was defeated, why not attack all those who defeated it, not just one group? The fact is that the deal was voted down equally by people who have never intended to abide by the referendum result.
To the list of casualties may be added every Guardian columnist, of which there are hundreds, with the sole exception of Simon Jenkins. I fear that the disease may now have spread to bloggers. I am taking what precautions I can, but it is probably too late.
It’s all in the stars
In the 1970s, like many others, I paid a lot of attention to astrology. One of the things that struck me was that certain events, certain periods of history, were dominated by a group of people who shared the same star sign. World War II was a classic example: Churchill, Stalin and de Gaulle were all Sagittarians.
The same thing is now happening with Brexit. Gemini George Osborne set the ball rolling. As the architect of austerity, symbol of the international elite and chief cheerleader for Project Fear, he laid the groundwork for the outcome of the referendum. Gemini Boris Johnson probably swung the result. In the current parliamentary tug-of-war, Gemini Dominic Grieve is trying to outfox Gemini Jacob Rees Mogg (they even share a birthday), while Gemini Jeremy Corbyn tries to get in on the act without knowing how. All it needs is for Gemini Donald Trump to intervene.
Geminis are said to be inconsistent, unfocused, superficial, indecisive and unreliable. Just the sort of people we want in charge of things at the moment. However, since I happen to be married to one, and since she censors this blog for what she thinks I shouldn’t be saying, I should add that they are also highly intelligent, creative, quick-witted, versatile and enthusiastic. With a great sense of humour. Hopefully.