Frankie Boyle writes in the Guardian….
Sunday 29 October 2017 00.05 BST
The Tories are at pains to make sure that Brexit is being done by the book; sadly, that book is Lord of the Flies. If the EU had created Brexit as a deliberate The Producers-style disaster to demonstrate how difficult it was to leave, they’d probably have been tempted to tone down the casting.
The key players include Liam Fox, a man who looks like he could finish a steak while looking at footage from Hiroshima; Boris Johnson, who for the first time finds himself in a cabinet without it involving someone saying: “Quick! My husband’s home early!”, and David Davis, Sid James after a This Morning makeover and a half-hearted tilt at therapy.
Davis has suggested that MPs will have a vote on Brexit but only after Britain has left the EU. What a great country we are. So confident in our democracy that we’re willing to have a vote about an event that happened months before. But then the English do like to do things out of order. They celebrate winning the World Cup in the months leading up to the tournament and only concede defeat 20 minutes into the first match.
Jean-Claude Juncker denies that Mrs May begged for help at their recent dinner in Brussels. She may well have been “tormented, anxious and despondent”, but to be fair I’d have thought these feeling are perfectly normal for people obliged to have dinner with Mr Juncker. I bet his wife feels like that every morning before going down to face him over breakfast. I suppose the real surprise is that the leaked story didn’t describe May trying to get through to an artery with a soup spoon. Who hasn’t had a couple of bottles of wine and a cognac and not begged for something? Sex, possibly. Or more cognac.
The EU is probably broadly supportive of May. It’s good to have a weak, embattled PM, as the less capable they look of being able to handle negotiations, the greater the domestic panic and the easier it will be to justify a divorce bill to the public. It seems that everybody wants Theresa May to be prime minister, with the exception of a majority of the electorate, and herself.
Chris Heaton-Harris MP has sent letters to universities asking them to list the names of the people who lecture on Brexit. He’s been accused of McCarthyism, but defended his move, saying he was only looking for information as he was planning to write a book, presumably entitled something like First Up Against the Wall.
Brexiters have always been keen on rooting out heretics. Jacob Rees-Mogg called the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, “an enemy of Brexit”. Rees-Mogg’s other enemies include the Jacobites, the concept of Progress and Velcro. Rees-Mogg is an imperial C-3PO, PG Wodehouse’s flirtation with fascism given physical form, and it’s tempting to write him off as one of those broad characters who arrives late in the life of a dying sitcom. Yet he serves a sinister purpose: as an outlier to provide a context in which Johnson seems a plausible prime minister. Many voters are complacent about Rees-Mogg, maybe because they feel like any minute now he’s going to be arrested by Poirot.
Indeed, one of the consolations of Brexit for the Tories is that it has drawn the eye away from one of the more ghoulish cabinets in recent history, packed with figures who are able to go out on Halloween as themselves. Philip Hammond is incredibly dull even for a chancellor of the exchequer. It’s only the red box that lets you know you’re not looking at a black-and-white photograph. Then again, the bulk of the cabinet are so grey that when Theresa meets them she must feel like Dorothy before the twister hit. May herself cuts a comparatively rakish figure in makeup that looks like it was applied by a colour-blind embalmer and that big shiny neck chain that makes her look like the worst prize on a hoopla stall run by the Wu-Tang Clan.
Most things a corporatist government does involve transferring assets from public to private ownership, so its decisions are eagerly delivered by the private sector. Since New Labour, private interests are often involved with government at every stage; from lobbying for a reform in the first place, to drafting of the bill, to implementation.
This is another reason governments like wars – there’s very little for them to do: delivery is entirely performed by someone else. Also, consequences usually have a kind of time-lapse. PFI contracts, or even the destabilisation of Iraq, might take a decade or more to become truly toxic, by which time the politicians involved will hope to have moved into the private sector.
With Brexit, the whole country might implode within about nine months. This is why the Tories are behaving like a besieged rat colony: they actually have to doing something and are being confronted with the novelty of immediate consequences. It’s stating the obvious, but the conflict in negotiations is not a clash of national temperaments, but the atmosphere created when gung-ho carpetbaggers come up against patrician bureaucrats.