Boris Johnson gave his big speech yesterday and will no doubt give another one next week and the week after that and the week after that until Boris gets what Boris wants – namely the keys to Number 10. This one was supposedly all about the wonderful magnanimous Boris ‘reaching out’ (ghastly term) to the other side – i.e. Remoaners like myself – and selling Brexit as a fabtabulous opportunity. The speech was trailed in that well known Remoaner newspaper, The Sun and there was some stuff about Toblerones and carrots to make sure Boris trended on twitter – which of course Boris did.
Well it’s very good of Bojo to do that thing which I can’t bear to write again but he really wasn’t doing that at all so Boris can do one. Johnson is after an angle any angle in order to get that ghastly Mrs May out and his bonce in and his ‘conciliatory Brexit solver’ schtick is but the latest roll of that dice. If you believed he meant a single word of it then click here
For the rest of you – here’s a confession. I’m sick to bloody death of Brexit. I’m sick of having the same conversations on social media, in the pub, in my kitchen, at my workplace. I’m sick of Mogg, I’m sick of being called a Remoaner, I’m bored to the back teeth of getting bored to the back teeth by it. I’m tired of dancing around the subject with people I’ve just met or don’t really know or have known my entire life. I’m fed up with the friends and family who voted for it and am fed up with myself for feeling fed up with them. I’m sick of Article 50, the gurning Farage, Juncker, Barnier, Boris, the incompetent David Davis and even the BBC. There are a billion other ways I could better be spending my time than arguing with men called Doug on twitter. And yet – here I am – once again writing about bloody Brexit. In essence, if you haven’t quite got my point – I’m not over it – I’m sick and fucking tired of it – but I can’t move on. I suspect that most people in the country are heartily sick of it too. It dominates the news headlines and the national conversation. It’s there – everywhere you look – a political Tesco Metro.
The EU Referendum was essentially a war and principally – a Civil War. The language of the debate, from the off, was loaded with the leitmotifs and themes of armed conflict, WW2 ya da ya da ya da. Churchill has constantly been invoked and claimed by both sides throughout. The Brexiteers talk still of ‘liberation’ and ‘independence.’ Remainers are branded traitors, judges are branded traitors – indeed anyone who disagrees with anyone is branded a ‘traitor’ – I’ve done it myself. (See also Quisling and ‘resistance.’) Farage talked of donning khaki and picking up a gun if his vision of Brexit was not delivered. Whereas in 1940 the Battle for Britain raged in the skies above Southern England, today it rages on social media. There may be little spectacle, fewer deaths and a lot less engine oil in the mix, but all the other necessary elements of brutal engagement remain. Scores are settled. There’s a lot of crash and burn – and crucially – very few people are actually involved.
The tabloids and our political masters would have us believe that there are two clear lines between the warring factions in this battle but as in all wars that simply isn’t the case. Most people, whatever they voted, are simply by-standers and are now looking on in horror – or for the sake of their sanity have switched off completely. Talk of a “second referendum” sends a chill through the hearts of many – if not all of us. Most Britons want to ‘just get on with it’ and frankly – who can blame them?
The problem is – and forgive me for my mixed wartime metaphors here – that the people actually doing the fighting are more deeply entrenched and committed to the struggle than ever. The hard-line Brexiteers and the hard-line Remoaners have both dug in – and things are getting nastier. There’s a growing sense that both sides want to win for winnings sake and in the process no longer seem to give a fuck about the countryside around us being blown to (metaphorical) smithereens. This is no longer about the ins and outs of EU membership – it’s about attainment of a final victory. Suggesting that we just stop it and all ‘reach out’ to each other is cloud cuckoo fairyland bollocks. The equivalent of marching out in to the middle of No Man’s Land in 1916 and shouting ‘why can’t we all be friends’ over the barrage of guns.
So what to do?
What do you want? I can tell you what I want. I want my kids to be happy and safe and get a bit of education and a job they like and grow up in a prosperous, peaceful, progressive corner of the world. I want this little spit of land on which I have lived all my life to burgeon and be respected and liked. I want to be proud to be British not the butt of some international joke. For any likelihood of that happening this war must end and a peace must be signed. There needs to be an ‘end-game’ and frankly the only chance of that coming is in the shape and form of a second referendum. Just leaving without it won’t work – because ‘the Resistance’ will not go quietly off home and hang up their remoaning socks. A line has to be drawn in the sand.
The situation in 2018 is very different indeed to that of 2016. Most British people are now aware of the intricacies of our relationship with the EU, most people are now better informed and on that basis a second referendum would be fairer than the first.
“But what if we lost?” I’m often asked by people on my side. Well – easy. This time Remainers would be obliged for the sake of the whole country to respect the result and shut up (for a bit). There is no guarantee at all that Remain would win – but a second vote on the deal would at least put this tiresome and protracted engagement to rest.