SO, how’s this Brexit business working out for you? An awful lot of nothing has happened since we voted, so it seems timely to have a catch-up.
First up, and it’s all gone a bit fuzzy now, let’s look back at the question we were asked. Here’s a test for you. What did the ballot paper ask?
Below you will find two options to choose from in my memory ballot.
Option one: Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Option two: Should the UK engage in an endless squabble while the rest of Europe, and indeed the world, looks on in bafflement, wondering what the hell the supposedly sane and sober Brits are up to as assorted tin-eared Tories rattle on about jumping over the cliff-edge while singing Rule Britannia and chuntering on about how great the Empire used to be, or so they heard from their nanny, and anyway Europe’s foreign and we have to watch out for foreigners, apart from those we want to flog stuff to, and everything will be rainbow marvellous once we break the European shackles – and please don’t forget our sweet little lies about £350m a week coming back to prop up the NHS?
It’s a while ago now and to be honest, I can’t quite remember.
A Twitter user called Stephen Lawrence has done a spot of research about how many Leave voters have died since the referendum. Basically, if you want to ask some of them how they think Brexit is doing, you’ll have to tap on a coffin. Sifting data from Eurostat, the British Election Study and data journalism carried out by the Financial Times and the Independent, Steve predicts that “Remain would now win by 52.08% if a snap referendum was called today”, according to a report on the Short List website.
And the coffin-knocking comes into it because he estimates that 123,411 Leaves voters have died since the referendum – set against less than 30,000 Remain voters who have left the auditorium.
My presiding memory of that sad morning we learned we were quitting Europe solidifies around footage on the BBC news of an elderly man caught in a bout of euphoric tottering as he said: “I’ve got my county back.”
Has anyone checked up on that old fella lately? Knock once for “I’ve still got my country back” and twice for “It’s dark in here.”
Right now, we have hit a Brexit brick wall. The rest of Europe doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to cooperate, and who can blame them: we’re the ones leaving the club, while also having a petulant foot-stamp about our demands.
Now I know the Leave option was supported by some Labour as well as Tory voters. But the whole Brexit business is being conducted on Tory terms – and as a matter to be settled by the Conservative Party, rather than by the whole country.
And sorry to be a Remoaner about this, but it is still the truth that a squeak of a win for Leave has been belligerently repackaged by Eurosceptic Tories and their backing vocalists in the right-wing press as the voice of the whole country. Rather than the voice of a narrow majority – some of whom are dead already.
Two thoughts from this morning’s headlines. The Tories are still squabbling among themselves, with home secretary Amber Rudd saying that leaving the EU without any Brexit deal is “unthinkable” – while cheery David Davis says the cliff-edge route must remain an option.
Then again, Davis does remind me of a coach driver trying to reassure his passengers after one wheel falls off – “Three wheels are fine, three British wheels will get us there…”
Second thought: According to a BBC investigation this morning, the performance of hospitals across the UK has “slumped with targets for cancer, A&E and planned operations now being missed en masse”.
While we are locked in a plummeting Brexit lift with the squabbling Tories, nobody is paying proper attention to the state of the NHS – you know, the service that was meant to be £350m better off once we left Europe.