Daniel Hannan has been banging on in the Daily Express about how the Remoaners have finally won dirty, and that they’re going to deny Brexiters their honestly earned prize. Expect more of this. Much more. The whinge is only just beginning, whatever happens this week, on January 21st, or on March 29th, or any other day forevermore.
This is the Great Brexit Betrayal narrative, and it’s going to be epic. A tale of capricious gods, bold Knights of Olde, of the Golden City on a hill, and, for this is a tragedy, of the dastardly tricks played by their foes, those too clever by half ‘Citizens of Nowhere’ with their legions of saboteurs in their magic courtrooms. Above all, there is the work of the Kingdom of 27 in their Palace of Pandaemonium in far-away ‘Brussels’. The stout yeomen and barefoot virgins of Blighty never stood a chance.
For Brexit was always going to fail. Even success is failure in the Brexiter narrative.
Because the problem with Brexit all along is that there is nothing to it but the story. And it’s a disturbing story.
The fevered wailing of the Brexiters was corralled by some of their clever leaders into the ultimate trailer for a Hollywood blockbuster. That was the 2016 Referendum campaign. They had straplines aplenty to tease and excite, and dash, glamour, and excitement. Brilliant stuff.
But they didn’t have a plan. Or at least, some of them had a vague idea of a direction of travel (Hannan is in that category), and others, perhaps most of them, knew what they were against, but what they were for, that was trickier. In the trailer/referendum campaign, some clever CGI effects could suffice as indicative, like the ‘serving suggestion’ on a packet of cream crackers, all luscious smoked salmon and glistening sour cream, when all there is inside is a dry biscuit. Brexit looked bloody gorgeous.
But then they won. As Lady Macbeth, Michael Gove’s missus said, “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” And victory called for a plan.
A plan is a detailed set of preparations, diplomatic, constitutional, legal, administrative, economic, industrial, commercial, logistic, and every other tedious bit of hard work associated with delivering a big project on time, and on budget. This was a big, big project. The time span was tight. And they hadn’t a clue about what to do. Not a sausage.
But the Brexiters can’t honestly blame anyone. Nobody stood in their way. No one. The Opposition, so-called, trotted through the lobby to trigger Article 50. Ambitious, formerly Remain supporting Tories saw a very attractive bandwagon with a big number on the side, and leapt aboard. The new, Brexit Means Brexit, PM even gave the big job of ‘delivering’ Brexit, to them. They were in charge. They had the reins of power, new ministries, and every accoutrement of government at their disposal.
And you know what? They blew it. One by one, they walked away.
Theresa May is a control freak, but only latterly on the Brexit process. She gave the Leavers their head, and only took on more and more of the burden, because she had no option. Even when in power, people like Johnson, Davis and Fox were AWOL. Indolent, stupid, clueless, who knows what the explanation is, but the blame for their failure is theirs.
And the blame is the Tory Party’s. For incubating the fever, for letting it out of the pox lab, for letting the disease take a grip of swathes of the electorate.
And the blame is the Opposition’s, or at least its “leadership’s”, for a complete failure to do the job as written on the can.
But despite looming failure, the Brexiters aren’t yet cured of their delusions. They probably never will be. For they saw, smelled the thing they most wanted. It was pure lust.
As Brexit fever mounted, especially as their feared it might all be a tease, they wanted it harder, they wanted it riskier. They were up for anything, as long as it was an exhilarating extreme. Crispin Blunt, for example, was desperately agitated last week, more so even than in his confession to the Commons earlier this year of a passion for poppers, or amyl nitrate. As for the rest of them, Mogg, Davis, Fox, Bridgen, Davies, Jenkyns, et al, they look like the sort of people who turn up at car parks in wooded areas for an exhibitionist thrill with a stranger.
Because Brexit is the next thrill, the next high, the next fix. It is never about the work, the planning, the sheer diligence, that delivers a plan.
And so, for them, it’s probably come down time.
The thrill is gone.