I LIKE to think when running. Sometimes what I’m thinking is, didn’t this used to be easier? Slowed down as I am by creaking joints and an unwanted half stone that on an honest day might be promoted to a whole stone.
For the past four-a-and-half years, while plodding around York, I’ve also been thinking about how to address Brexit in this blog. Previously on Man On Ledge: Brexit is a terrible idea, that’s all you need to know.
But what are we to make of the sorry shitstorm now it is about to hit us face on?
This morning’s Sunday sheets were full of Brexit stories. The Sunday Telegraph placed the headline “Final throw of the dice” above a hammily staged photograph of Boris Johnson. This showed Johnson lit by a desk lamp while trying to look resolute. Tiny upright print at the side of the picture gave the game away: it was taken by the Downing Street photographer.
No self-respecting photographer would offer up such an image. A good photographer would, as many have already done, capture a more honest moment, with Johnson looking stressed or crumpled. And an honest newspaper wouldn’t use propagandist images supplied by Downing Street, but we are talking about the Telegraph.
You could argue that this doesn’t matter, but sadly you’d be mistaken. It matters because Brexit always has been buttressed by lies, slippery promises and bull-headed assumption.
A year ago, Johnson won a handsome majority by saying that he’d “got Brexit done” and promising that he had an “oven-ready deal” with Europe.
Yet in 12 months we’ve gone from Johnson having an oven-ready deal to him trying to work out if he can get away with popping a frozen turkey in the microwave. And another problem for me with this cooking metaphor is I keep thinking Boris Johnson’s never been near an oven in his life.
In one long and wearisome year, we’ve progressed from fake promises reeled out by the yard and blithe lies about “the easiest deal in history”, to standing on the no-deal cliff edge and shouting at the French while rolling dice. Nine cabinet ministers are said to be ready to back Johnson’s potential no deal – but then they were only chosen for their blind fealty to Brexit and Johnson.
No one has yet given one convincing concrete reason for Brexit – and that’s because there aren’t any, but here we are, stuck like lorry drivers trying to get out of Kent and worrying about where to take a piss.
And please let’s drop all that fishy bluster. Sadly, the fishing industry is more or less irrelevant in the grand scale: it’s a Brexit smokescreen put up by Johnson and co. It has nothing to do with anything, and also if I hear anyone say sovereignty one more time, I may have to swallow a kipper whole.
It’s like a weird game of Top Trumps, where spouting sovereignty wins all arguments, even though no one has a sensible, everyday definition of what that means.
Last week, Brexit-addled Tories led by Jacob Rees-Mogg were even putting it about that Britain was only able to win fast-track approval of a Covid-19 jab because of Brexit. In fact the approval came under existing European law: another fat fib from the jar of tooth-breaking Union Jack mints.
These vaccines have, in short, been produced around the world by scientists collaborating and competing; and the slightly earlier arrival here of a vaccine made elsewhere hardly merits letting the patriotic parrot out of its cage.
As for that last throw of the dice, well that’s great. Let’s compare this country’s future to betting the house in a midnight game of craps.