Saturday 1 February 2020

Boris proves Evelyn Waugh wrong

Last thoughts on Brexit Day. Evelyn Waugh complained that the Tories never turned the clock back, even by a minute. It took two and a half years of terrible pain and the threat of extinction for the party to make it happen, but they proved him wrong at last.

For Remainers, David Cameron made a great mistake in promising the referendum. Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP who was the chairwoman of Vote Leave, also thought he shouldn't have done so. Most Brexiteers disagree, I imagine, but it made most of us ask ourselves whether we wanted to remain in the EU and that question, once answered, cannot be unasked. 

But certainly 'Dave''s great unforgivable mistake was to forbid civil servants to make a contingency plan for Leave winning. 

Mistake is too kind a word - unpardonable negligence that should have had him drummed out of office had he not resigned, breaking his promise to take the country out of the EU if the people so decided.

He could have had plans made for adopting the Norway model (staying in the Single Market and keeping free movement of EU citizens), which would have satisfied most people, been a middle option between leaving the EU and staying and would not have had any real economic consequences. Norway without the free movement provision would have been much better but might not have been possible. 

Instead, Theresa May crawled across broken glass to get a terrible deal. Now, instead, it looks like we are going to get a harder Brexit and one which David Cameron and the erstwhile Remainers will like much less.

Tony Blair on Channel 4 News on October 29 was right to say Boris Johnson was locked in a box and Labour had the key, and he had been allowed out of the box. 

The problem was the SNP had a key too and wanted to win Tory seats before Alex Salmond went on trial. They did so but they will regret letting Boris hold and win the election. Brexit will ensure independence never happens.

Tony Blair argued that 
Leave would have lost a second referendum, but this is very unlikely, judging by the election result. Leave would have used the perfect slogan: 'Tell them again'. The People's Vote movement, organised by Alistair Campbell and probably Tony Blair, was profoundly undemocratic and an insult to Leave voters. Tony Blair and his allies too should have backed the Norway model.

I am pleased they did not and think we should get a better deal - but we shall see.

Last word to Marina Hyde:

But here we all are. That was the Brexit that was. And what was it? It had the mad energy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but went on for three and a half years. The sheer litany of WTF-ery that occurred would take precisely three and a half years to recount. At one point Michael Howard threatened war with Spain. It was the golden age of television drama, but people instead found themselves watching BBC Parliament in the evenings, initially capable of making wan comparisons with Game of Thrones but eventually lacking the energy to do anything but wish a dragonfire apocalypse on everyone involved.

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