All I want for Christmas is a break from Brexit.
To be able to turn on the phone, computer, radio, light switch, washing machine even, and not feel that familiar tug of exasperation and anxiety that mention of that bugger of a thing invariably brings on.
Time has moved on from the absolute shock and awe of that original vote in June 2016, but we’re still struggling frantically with what is the best approach to adopt when you’re next-door neighbour turns completely coco jambos — fighting all round with the other residents on the street and then blaming you for trying to make sure the residents’ association withstands the lunacy of it all. Sigh.
And they’ve no respect for the Yuletide spirit of bounty and plenty.
As recently as Tuesday night on BBC’s Newsnight they were threatening us again with starvation.
“Starve the Irish, everything old is new again,” quipped one viewer on social media after hearing that British ministers are fuelling speculation that Ireland would be reduced to a Berlin-style airlift in the event of a no deal scenario.
With their usual Brexit finesse they’re upping the frighteners big time on the prospect of a no deal Brexit, in order to get us to roll over on the backstop.
For the non-history buffs amongst you the airlift happened in 1949 at the end of World War 11. Berlin was deep in the Soviet sector of Germany and supplies to the western part of the city, badly damaged in the war, had to be transported through Soviet-controlled territory. After the Russians closed off land and water access, Britain and the US airlifted the much needed supplies.
The Americans called it “Operation Vittles” and it’s known since as the “Berlin Airlift”. So you get the drift.
Who are these people who have risen through the ranks of British politics who don’t know their history, their geography or their arse from their elbow? All very well to agree with the sentiment behind Michelle Obama’s “when they go low we go high” but we’re talking extreme and prolonged provocation here.
It’s more a case of trying to stop yourself from descending to their base level by agreeing with the sentiment of another Newsnight viewer who succinctly put it thus:
“We will eat seaweed before we cave to the Tans”.
Speaking of which, our neighbour on the other side, may be far further away in terms of air miles, but in the competition for crackpot nations of the year it’s likely there will be hardly a hair’s breath between the US and the UK at that particular finishing line.
The Commons is in recess. It returns on 7th January. pic.twitter.com/h0P9v8lf0n— PARLY (@PARLYapp) December 20, 2018
But it’s one problem at a time, so back to Brexit. We realised how much of a total pox fest the whole thing would be long before the British did, but we never wanted this fight in the first place, and at least we’re doing our best to deal with what has been thrown at us.
Nothing is safe and everything apparently under threat, not least our sanity. It’s only going to get worse as preparations for a no deal scenario intensify here, there and in Brussels.
The Brits are clearly hoping their own no deal planning will further concentrate Irish minds and force us to assist Britain in getting the EU to amend the withdrawal treaty in relation to the backstop - this when it’s as plain as one of Boris Johnson’s bent bananas that their tactics are risible.
They themselves have already been brought face to face with the prospect of hand-to-hand combat on the streets over an ever-diminishing supply of OXO cubes and other such nutritional necessities, to running out of supplies of essential medicines such as insulin. But none of it seems to penetrate the great British ability to remain in splendid denial.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock said on the same programme on Tuesday night that he has become “the largest buyer of fridges in the world” owing to his plan to stockpile six weeks worth of medicine in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Haven’t they come a long way from the pithy message of: “Leaving the EU will give us £350m a week to spend on the NHS?
Compare that to the announcement by the UK Treasury this week that it is allocating £2bn to help departments prepare for Brexit. Since 2016 it has provided more than £4.2bn for Brexit preparations. That’s some barrelful of dosh. Imagine what a “responsible Government” could do with that cash if it was spent on hospitals, or homelessness or education?
Of course the mass refrigeration plans pale in comparison to the 3,500 troops on standby or that the self same health secretary chartering a plane to ensure certain medical supplies, key in the treatment of cancer patients, can be airlifted in a no deal scenario.
If you read or heard they were handing out recipes at railway stations on how to turn the family pet into a stable meal, cooked over an open fire, it wouldn’t seem immediately implausible.
Who could disagree with Labour MP David Lammy, who tweeted, after it was announced the Government was ramping up no deal preparations, and would be making the necessary public service announcements. “I just want to run through the corridors screaming ‘wake the **** up people’.”
At this stage you must conclude that even the threat of an imminent Brexit-related nuclear attack would not make that particular social media alarm call a success.
We do have much to be thankful for here, even if it does not feel like that. Our politicians are — for the most part — sane. The Government is handling Brexit as well as it can in these extraordinary circumstances, not to mention displaying great patience.
The opposition is also largely, playing its part well. We’ve taken this seriously from the start, using all available resources and thus far handled it all incredibly well in near impossible circumstances. That sticks so badly in the craw of certain British politicians they are in danger of choking.
The media also does a really good job in reporting the realities of Brexit unlike so much of the coverage in the UK which all too often appears to be parody, when, in fact, it couldn’t be more serious.
It’s not just Brexit that is the bother either. It’s having a ringside seat when what you and everyone else considered to be a civilised, evolved society, tears itself apart, seemingly impervious to the damage being done, not just to its neighbours, but to itself.
This is an epochal period and in recent human history that is rarely a good thing. The best we can hope for in 2019 is to live in less interesting times.
Who are these people who have risen through the ranks of British politics who don’t know their history, their geography or their arse from their elbow?