Friday, 31 January 2020
A DARK DAY FOR BRITAIN
“Dies irae, Dies illa, Solvet saeclum in favilla”
At 11.00 p.m. this evening the UK will officially cease to be a member state of the European Union, after almost half a century in which our membership of the European Community has been hugely beneficial to this country and its people in numerous ways, in addition to the immense economic benefits that membership of this huge trading bloc brought with it. I regard this symbolic break with our fellow Europeans (who as near neighbours are our natural trading partners and friends) as an unmitigated disaster with no countervailing advantages whatsoever, contrary to the vacuous blatherings of various species of Brexiteer.
No doubt Boris Johnson will now gloat triumphantly that he has “got Brexit done”. But he hasn’t done anything of the sort. What will happen this evening is BREXINO - Brexit-in-Name-Only. Nothing else will change until the end of this year at the earliest. We continue to be bound by EU rules and will continue to pay into the European budget, and so everything simply carries on as before (except that we will no longer have any representation on the Council of Ministers or in the European Parliament). So this is only the inauspicious start of a difficult and painful process. If Johnson sticks to his government’s stated intention of diverging from European rules and standards, he will only make Brexit immeasurably harder, and ultimately much more damaging to this country’s interests. Ironically, the people who stand to suffer most seriously from the economic fall-out are those who voted in the greatest numbers for Brexit. We will all suffer to a greater or lesser extent, but I can’t resist a certain sense of schadenfreude that those people in the North and North-east who voted for Brexit (and then last December for Tory MPs), will get what they deserve.
It is very clear that there are many of us (probably at least half the country, judging by the number of people who voted in the General Election for parties which were in support of a second referendum to reconsider Brexit) who will never be reconciled to Brexit. I, and a good many other people to whom I have spoken in the past month, remain implacably opposed to what is happening, and will seek to reverse the process as soon as the political opportunity arises. When the economic and social consequences of Brexit gradually dawn on the wider public, and disillusion sets in (especially in those areas that were duped into electing Tory MPs for the first time), the game will be up for this Tory government, and political nemesis awaits.
The recent antics of the Brextremists have at least afforded us some innocent amusement. They lost ‘the Battle of the Bongs’; Big Ben will not strike the hour at 11 p.m. tonight. Nor will church bells be rung. A few idiots may let off some fireworks, but this Last Hurrah for Brexit promises to be something of a damp squib. It won’t be long before the Brextremists are weeping and wailing, and gnashing their teeth. (Listen out for cries of “Treachery!” , “Betrayal!”, and the like from Nigel Farage and friends when things don’t go exactly as they had hoped or expected.).
Even the trumpeted issue of commemorative 50p pieces may prove problematic. I heard a rumour the other day that counterfeiters have seized the opportunity to strike a large number of fake 50p coins, which they hope to pass into circulation in the coming week or two. I have absolutely no means of verifying this information – it may be the sort of thing President Trump would instantly dismiss as “Fake News!” – but my informant suggested that the fakes may be good enough to deceive the average punter, though not so good as to evade detection. The risk, it was suggested, is that an innocent person might get one of the fake commemorative coins in their change and then find themselves arrested for passing counterfeit currency if they try to spend it. So far as I am concerned, this just gives me an added excuse for refusing to accept any of the new coins, which (in common with a good many other people) I was already proposing to do on principle.
This may well be my last rant against Brexit (well, for a few months at least). Boris Johnson amended the recently passed Bill so as to shut down any parliamentary scrutiny of the forthcoming trade talks with the EU, and he is also doing his best to keep the press in the dark about what is going on. Whether he will succeed in the latter endeavour is perhaps doubtful, but I will leave that to the political press to puzzle out.
Meanwhile, for me, it’s back to the endless fascination of planning law!
© MARTIN H GOODALL