It sometimes seems as though the British political establishment really does have a death wish. Nobody could conceive of such inept behaviour and untimely interventions as to imagine this was all strategically put together by some political master-mind to manipulate us all into a position where we might all rise up and shout, ‘Enough ! Let’s not bother with Brexit any more...’
Yet that appears to be what is happening. Brexit certainly stirs emotions and vociferous outbursts, but is it feasible that this is all being stage-managed by some either very clever or very deranged people in Whitehall ? Fundamentally, most of us became aware long ago that the government had no appetite to implement Brexit as it was mandated; such an act was anathema to the Conservative Party and yet there was an imperative to be seen to be doing everything possible to ‘deliver’ Brexit. For the Labour Party it was an equal quandary. Remaining in the customs union was an essential pre-requisite to bringing about their policy pledges of nationalisation and labour rights, but they too had to be seen respecting the referendum and support Brexit in one form or another. What could each do to bring about the appearance of trying their hardest to implement the Brexit vote ?
What they have both done is to create confusion. As most of us will know, once a sense of confusion takes root, it takes an awful lot of unravelling to recover any state of order and control. But in our governmental context and also that of the Opposition, we have seen superlative efforts at creating confusion on purpose. Whether it has been misinformation, back-pedalling, complete volte faces, or just downright sabotage both institutions have succeeded in creating uncertainty, fear in some cases, a lack of clarity, ambiguous declarations and dogged refusals to collaborate under the guise of parliamentary procedure. In that, parliament has presented both the major political Party’s with an ideal camouflage screen and, indeed, an ideal excuse for not achieving anything. If Brexit is nothing else it has shown itself to be the perfect vehicle for obfuscation, delay and, perhaps above all, absolute theatre. Parliament has revelled in its unwitting role as the evil witch of the west whilst Conservative and Labour grandees looked on, arms akimbo with smug satisfaction on their faces.
This blog is titled with the word ‘Pickle’. Normally we’d associate that with a rather tasty chutney or something but government, opposition and parliament have managed to create this political version by the process of confusion. If you make something look so impossibly impossible and then get your partners in crime to further complicate matters by rejecting everything put before them you inevitably reach a point where you can legitimately shrug your shoulders and declare that nothing is workable, ergo, Brexit is a dead duck so let’s all just get back to where we were before the referendum and get back to ‘normal’. If, by some strange chance the Withdrawal Agreement (that’s the document that the government purports to have negotiated hard for but which is so flabby and flawed as to be a complete embarrassment to us all) were to be passed by Parliament then we would still find ourselves inextricably aligned to the EU, it’s laws, regulations and edicts plus a financial contribution we would still find ourselves liable for. Either way, the Europhiles have won the day.
Donald Trump Jr recently made the remark that ‘democracy was all but dead in the UK.’ Now this is a character whom nobody would really take seriously as a political pundit (or anything else for that matter) yet there is something that strikes a chord with this observation. If we accept the premise that government, opposition, the civil service and parliament have collectively, albeit sometimes not knowingly, brought about such a state of political confusion over Brexit as to render it unworkable then the death of democracy is not far from becoming the truth. The grand deception of the electorate would be then complete and the commitment of all to keep the UK as near as dammit an EU member in perpetuity will have been achieved.
Perhaps the sting in the tail in such a scenario would be the absolute punishment of the Conservative and Labour Party’s at the ballot box and the stimulation of new, emergent politicians with ideas and morals grounded in a genuine national interest. Wishful thinking, maybe, but let’s face it, nobody ever imagined this ‘Pickle’ could ever come about - and it has - so let’s hope we can begin the trek down the road to getting Britain being governed by dedicated and resourceful politicians who put country before any seedy political party institution.