The reality that Brexit could not be delivered became apparent even in the hours after the result. Why did David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, resign? He didn’t have to. He had fought a solid campaign and had been honourably beaten. He had said that he would not resign whatever the result.
Cameron probably realised that he could not deliver the result that had been asked for. His departure was the first indication that Brexit was already on life support.
For a while there was some hope of it being revived, temporarily at least. Would a Brexiteer become Prime Minister? Had Johnson taken the crown of the Tory Party, he certainly would have begun the motions.
The Extablishment Strikes back
Meantime, the Establishment came charging into the fray, in the form of high-powered legal challenges to the Government. This before, mark you, the Government had said a cheep and was still circling aimlessly, its rudder torpedoed out. It was made very clear within a matter of hours, by senior QCs, that the Government did not have the right to ‘trigger’ Clause 50, which would be the beginning of formal exit negotiations. Instead it would require a vote in Parliament.
The Government countered, feebly, with Royal Prerogative, but they had to do that, didn’t they? The cases now being laid before the Court will be appealed to the highest level.
The more practical reasons why Brexit is dead, however, are political and not constitutional. The principal one is that Brexit, as portrayed by the ‘Leave’ Campaign, is a chimera. It can’t be delivered.
Well, it could be, but the result would be catastrophic for the UK. Now here’s a thing. The Prime Minister of the UK is not charged with respecting the opinions of the masses. She or he is charged with protecting the interests of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It would be wise to remember that.
Realpolitik means that Brexit is dead.
Furthermore, there is a thing called Realpolitik. It got the slavering hounds of Brexit their referendum, but now it has ensured that the result will be ignored. Brexit is dead and it’s not doing a Lazarus.
We did wait with some apprehension for the result of the Tory party’s leadership poll. Early on, DumBo was stabbed in the back by his mate Michael Gove, which ended his challenge — and at the same time, Gove’s. The Tories are a ruthless bunch but they do not like to see the Machiavellian stuff done so publicly. By blatantly betraying his friend, Gove outraged the party and ensured that his own challenge was also dead. Such was his meteoric career — like all meteors, it crashed and burned.
The thinking pundit’s choice was now on two candidates, both women: Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. Leadsom is a rabid Eurosceptic and May a thoughtful Europhile. Had Leadsom been elected, the Tory Party would have given a clear signal that it intended for Brexit to happen. She wasn’t.
Instead, they elected Theresa May. At that point right there, they pulled the plug on Brexit’s life-support.
Punt it into the long grass.
Brexit is dead. It will never happen. The first thing that May will do — and she has already begun — is to kick the whole thing as deep into the long grass as she can.
No Brexit before 2016, she has already promised. Note: not ‘Brexit will be in 2016’. The punt is high and powerful, but it would not do, just yet, to allow the rabid hordes of Little Englanders to know that their cunning plan had just been shot in the head.
No, Ms May must buy time.
The first people she needed onside were François Hollande, President of France, and Andrea Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, so she met them. These were secret meetings but they came out with very similar pronouncements: there will be no concessions on freedom of movement, for the UK to remain in the Single Market.
That means that what Gove, Farage and DumBo promised is a non-starter. It presents May with a choice that suits her very well — you either leave the Single Market and switch off your economy, because your banks and financial services are going to be kicked out, or you dump the principal demand of the Brexiteer xenophobes — stop freedom of movement.
The big stick.
Ms May now has the British legal establishment pointing a diamond-encrusted Colt at her skull. She also has the banking and financial sector — responsible for 11% of all UK tax revenue — standing behind it with a nail-studded baseball bat, just in case the legal eagles do a Pulp Fiction and miss.
So immigration — or rather, freedom of movement for EU citizens — is off the table. We are therefore left with Brexit Light, in which the UK has to do everything Brussels tells it, or commit financial, political and diplomatic hari-kiri. And not a word would we be able to say to change anything. No influence.
This plays right into Ms May’s hands. You can bet the meetings in Paris and Berlin were amicable. They gave her the stick she needs to beat the swivelly-eyed Eurosceptics, and she will use it.
When May was elected leader, it was all up for Brexit.
Over 50% of May’s own MPs are Europhile. They didn’t elect her to make them look like a bunch of clowns. They elected her to make the Eurosceptics look like a bunch of clowns. Which she is doing very well at the moment.
As we pointed out before, a UK Prime Minister has to act in the interests of the UK, not abide by the opinion of a bunch of racist, misinformed, semi-literate gibbons, which is what the English Brexiteers have shown themselves to be. Actually I suspect gibbons would be more cultured.
At some point in the future, May will announce that no deal that could possibly be regarded as being in the UK’s interest is possible. It will therefore be her solemn duty to tell the English xenophobes that they have had their chips: there will be no Brexit.
Oh, she has to make conciliatory noises for a wee while, but that will pass. She has a working majority, larger than the one Thatcher enjoyed in her first term. And she knows she can rely on the Europhilic Labour, Liberal and SNP MPs on this one anyway, in addition to the majority of her own. If push came to shove and the rabid, knuckle-dragging Eurosceptics were to stage a revolt, they would be defeated. They know that. They shot their bolt. Brexit is dead.
Oh, the Express and the Mail and the Sun and even the Telegraph will howl and squeal. No doubt Rupe the cunt Murdoch will do some classically Ozzie whingeing about how dare an elected Prime Minister of the UK defy an arse from the outback. But they just got royally shafted.
They threw all the tattered reputation they had left at getting the result Rupe wanted, and now it’s going to be ignored. And you know what? The sky will not fall in on our heads. What price the power of press barons, now, Rupe? Oh, how the mighty are fallen.
The Tories have never cared a fiddlers for public opinion, they only care about winning elections. How much chance of winning the next one do you think they might have, if it is immediately preceded by an economic catastrophe and the end of the UK? Gosh even Corbyn could win that one. And the Tories are not stupid, May possibly least of all: she knows this fine well.
If Brexit is not completed by 2020, then the incoming government will almost certainly have won on a promise of not doing so. So, since we can now be sure that it will not happen before 2020, it will not happen at all. It’s just a question of when will be the most politically propitious moment for May to announce that Brexit is dead.
By then the English may possibly have come to their senses and realised that referendums are a bad idea, because they make stupid people think that their opinions matter. They don’t. Their votes matter, but not their opinions.
Brexit is dead. Democracy is not.
What you are witnessing is how a mature democracy deals with populism and demagoguery. If she plays her hand out with the skill that she certainly has, Theresa May will go down in history as the woman who not only saved the UK’s economy, but the UK itself.
The result of that, dear friends, will be another guaranteed 20 years in power for her party, the Tories. Ms May has a lot to live up to; she is only the second woman Prime Minister of the UK and look who the first was — love her or hate her, Thatcher is a legend. May has every intention of also being one. She wants to be remembered as a great Parliamentarian in the tradition of Gladstone, Disraeli, Lloyd George and Thatcher. And she has the ability and the ruthlessness to do it.
The alternative is to be the Prime Minister who ruined the UK’s economy, oversaw the departure of Scotland and Northern Ireland and condemned her party to possibly decades in Opposition. Do you really think she will avoid the Realpolitik? It’s absurd. The political rewards of letting Brexit die are just too great
At the same time, the Tory Party’s Eurosceptic tendency will be sent, bawling and sucking their thumbs, off to the nursery. That’s where they languished through the 1980s and 90s, and once again, nobody will care what they say. They will be told, ‘You had your referendum. Look at the mess it got us in. Now go to bed and stay there. We’ll call you to vote when we need lobby-fodder.’
And with a bit of luck, the UK will stop having referendums. They are a very bad idea and we should not indulge them.
Brexit is dead. In fact it’s humming already.