Sunday, 17 February 2019

O FRIENDS, NO MORE OF THESE SOUNDS! [151]


At the time of writing the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union on Friday 29th March, at 23:00 GMT – British Summer Time starts two days later. That night, a significant number of people will be in cinemas for the opening weekend of what I have been calling “Tim Burton’s Dumbo,” a remake twice as long as the original, in which no animals or trains will talk. The acrimony over Brexit means some may need to hear “Baby Mine” that night, a song that lost the 1941 Academy Award for Best Original Song to “Last Time I Saw Paris.”

I’ll be at home instead, watching the news – I’m not expecting anything to happen but, right now, I’m not sure anyone can tell me what will. I remember voting by post in the June 2016 referendum, meaning  I could tune out of the fighting between the Leave and Remain campaigns, but once 51.89% of 72.21% of the electorate, or 17.41 million people, voted to leave, the debate on how to interpret the result began, something that appears to be unresolved to this day: the Prime Minister is hoping to renegotiate the new working arrangement already made with the European Union, her hand forced by tribalism within her own party that dates back decades, and an inability for Parliament, with no sense of urgency until the last moment, to reach a consensus at a time when it truly mattered.

I am not happy about the state of anxiety I am forced to endure about Brexit, not least because making fun of politics in the United States is becoming increasingly hypocritical. I can speculate on what will eventually fill the shelves of the Donald Trump Presidential Library, and lament on how the divisive rhetoric is laid at the feet of man named Newt (Gingrich, that is), but this is hypocritical when British politics has fallen prey to the same partisan division. When an entire airline, FlyBMI, can collapse in your own country because of the economic effect of Brexit indecision, the same indecision that will add 10% to the cost of a new Porsche, and probably also to the cost of my next iPad – something that could also be released on Friday 29th March – seemingly the only option left is for me to sit back and take whatever economic hit will be passed through the economy to me by being submitted to International Monetary Fund rules.

Of course, something could be pulled out of the fire, and everything could work out for the best, but anything with as glacial a pace as changing the direction of a country means we should have indicated which way we were going to turn, and whether the country will still be making any cars afterwards. I may be able to bring myself to say more come the end of March, if any consensus in this country is reached about what we actually want – even I may want to see “Tim Burton’s Dumbo” by then.

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