Mayday Redux

By | 2019-01-19T00:20:19+00:00 January 19th, 2019|
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It should serve as immutable proof of cultural decline that “people on Twitter” are regarded as an authority of Socratic relevance.

Ladling opinions that once never would have seeped beyond the confines of urine-fragrant public transport, such corrosive waffle now booms through all political discourse.

But reading the greatest hits from that symposium of dullards is too strong a temptation. Forgive those who claim with force that the earth is flat; that shapeshifting lizards slither beneath elite skins; that the “sheeple” just need to wake up, man. Those are, at least, entertaining.

Reading such exquisite tripe requires caution. A time-limit. Too much will eat through one’s besieged synapses like late-stage syphilis.

Twitter, the abattoir of original thought, claims Brexit is “dead.”

In reality, this was the week in which everything happened. And nothing changed. Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal to leave the European Union fell to the biggest defeat for a sitting government in our history—pestled by a majority of 230.

Some 118 of May’s own lawmakers joined the slaughter. As the result announced itself, audible gasps could have sucked the skin from her ashen face.

But May trundles on. May muddles through. And the current tragicomedy of British politics serves as a tonic for our friends on the continent. They’ve always enjoyed a British one-footed waltz.

Perversely, the clamor to extend this circus thickens. While most Britons just want Brexit to be over, and the word forever expunged from discourse, many lay in obsessive hope of a re-run.

One such man is Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. After spending most of his political life barking from the backbenches about obscure, and faddish left-wing causes, “Jeremy” found himself shunted to the top.

A perfect case-study for the Dunning-Kruger effect, Jeremy now believes a new election would march him and his Marxist fanboys to power.

Calling a vote of no-confidence in the government, Jeremy was prime minister-elect for all of 18 hours. That bid failed. May survived.

People on Twitter, no doubt, blamed the lizards.

But Corbyn keeps on. That’s despite being six points behind probably the most inept of governments in recent history. Ted Bundy, juggling a cracked vial of smallpox, could do better.

Somehow, the man who canoodles with the worst of humanity, and then denies photographic evidence of having done so, terrifies May’s Conservative Party. They are convinced he could win. His praise of the late Hugo Chavez resounds.

Which is why this skirmish is so compelling. Conservative lawmakers gunned down May’s hated deal on the runway. But they don’t want another election, and they certainly don’t want a second referendum. They know, as we all do, the rulers appreciate not the opinions of the ruled.

They have played a skillful game of brinkmanship. As Boris Johnson told the media, May’s deal isn’t entirely unfit for consumption. The hated “Irish backstop” which would tie us to EU rules and regulations, is the issue.

Dangerous a game though it may be, Brexiteers blasted the deal with sub-zero calculation. As the clock runs perilously close, May must now head back to Brussels with her hands out. The message from the Brexiteers is faintly clear: junk the backstop, and we may climb onboard.

There are few other options. Revoking Article 50 (the Brexit starting-shot) is political suicide; a second referendum is the nocturnal emission of a jilted few; a new election would tell us nothing; a “no-deal” Brexit is preferred by only the most granite of believers.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

What remains, and what is most feasible, is for the European Union to junk the backstop in a manner in which they won’t have to admit to having done.

This is not a popular opinion. The media, which has spent two-and-a-half years ladling the most absurd of scare stories, claims it is just not possible.

But their influence, like much of the political class, withers when the people who actually matter start to pipe up.

The threat of no-deal spooks German industrialists. With a recession in the EU’s engine swerved for now, the calls for compromise grow more rancorous by the hour.

Even Angela Merkel, de facto leader of the EU, has softened—knowing a downturn in Germany threatens the entire EU project.

It is a grand game of chicken. But who will blink?

Ignorant of their hard-nosed demeanor, EU high priests have little choice. Populists are tipped to swarm one-third of European Parliament seats in May. Those arriving have root-and-branch reform on their minds.

Until recently, such elections mattered little. “More Europe!” the mithridate to all ills.

But a yellow-vested French rediscovery of their noble pastime rages across Paris and La France périphérique. While their besieged president Emmanuel Macron admitted that no-deal is “scary for everybody.”

They want their $50 billion goodbye check. And we just want to leave. Except, of course, those people on Twitter.

Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

About the Author:

Christopher Gage
Christopher Gage is a British political journalist.