YOU’LL have to excuse me for a moment. I’ve just heard arch Brexiteer and Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith being peevish on the radio. And that always puts my mood out of kilter.
There has, you seen, been another shuffle inch along the cul-de-sac known as Brexit Avenue. Or, if you are the Daily Mail, and heaven help you, the UK has taken a huge step. Never mind all the scaremongering and cynicism of the Remainers – we are set for a smooth and amicable departure from the EU, the paper insists.
Ah, such optimism. The thing is, this strikes me as being a bit previous. Yes, we all want this Brexit business to be over. But proclaiming Brexit a victory before it has happened and after two years of slow-motion squabbling seems to be pushing it.
Isn’t that as if Captain Scott had declared his expedition to the South Pole a great success before he set off? “We are confident of a smooth and amicable journey to reach the South Pole before anyone else,” as Scott never said.
In the event, Scott and his ill-fated expedition reached the South Pole, only to find that a Norwegian party led by Roald Amundsen had beaten them there. He and his men started their journey back, but never made it.
“I am just going outside this Brexit debate and may be some time”
Famous last words were spoken by Captain Oates – “I am just going outside and may be some time,” Suffering from severe frostbite, he walked out into the freezing conditions and was never seen again.
Sometimes it is tempting to be echo Oates, but minus the heroic stiff upper lip – “I am just going outside this Brexit debate and may be some time.”
In this scenario, the role of Scott falls to David Davis, the bluff and bumbling Brexit secretary – a man whose demeanour suggests that he has just swotted up on that day’s business on the ride over. That’s on a good day. Some days it looks like he hasn’t bothered to read a word.
The latest Brexit agreement to be heralded by Davis features a few climbdowns, including one over fish that has upset the ardent Brexiteers – and that adjective is redundant, as their fizzing fervency is guaranteed by their beliefs.
Sadly, it is not thought that the fish will throw Rees-Mogg overboard
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, had been demanding a renegotiation of the fishing quotas, but the UK has rolled over on that one.
In protest at this concession, Jacob Rees-Mogg says that tomorrow he will board a boat and throw fish out while sailing by Parliament. Sadly, it is not thought that the fish will throw Rees-Mogg overboard.
Long since thrown overboard is former prime minister David Cameron, whose blithe self-belief got us into this Brexit mess in the first place.
Cameron and Daily Mail supremo Paul Dacre fell out after Cameron suggested that the editor “cut him some slack” over Brexit. Cameron reportedly asked the Mail’s owner, Lord Rothermere, to sack the avidly pro-Brexit Dacre in the run-up to the referendum.
Dacre, who remained unsacked, heard about this and made his newspaper even more pro-Brexit.
It could therefore be argued that the spat between the prime minister and the all-powerful editor helped to shape the political landscape we now see around us. And it certainly explains the Mail’s continued enthusiasm for Brexit.