There’s a fireball in the sky, it’s getting closer and closer. The dinosaurs aren’t, for the most part, worried about it. It shines in the sky, it brightens up the day, why be concerned? That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Even if it does hit the Earth, it won’t be so bad. Things are never as bad as the doomsayers predict, says the stone chiselled press that sees the fireball as an opportunity to have two suns. There are rumours that the minor reptiles are paying pterosaurs to spread fake stories that the only survivors will be those who’ve dug themselves deep holes in the ground where they can shelter from the firestorm. Let’s just get on with things, we can deal with the future when it happens. Now stop talking about evolving into a burrowing species. We’re dinosaurs, we don’t need any of that evolving into more intelligence creatures nonsense. We’re the brutish British emperors of the animal kingdom. We make the rules. It’s all the fault of immigrant mammals anyway.
That’s pretty much the attitude of a lot of people toward Brexit. It hasn’t happened yet. Deal with it when it happens. Most people aren’t politics junkies. They’d rather watch the sparkly costumes of Strictly and are far more interested in the politics of the Premier League or the machinations of Kardashians. Get home from a boring job that hardly pays, switch on the box with the pretty lights, and switch off. They’re more concerned about getting through the week with enough cash to pay the grocery bill. Fish fingers have gone up in price again, and that’s all you can get the wean to eat without a fuss.
That’s what happens with poverty, that’s what happens with austerity. It means that you have to spend so much of your precious energy and personal resources just to survive that there’s not much left over for bigger pictures. You’re going to resent being asked to think about other things when you’ve got enough on your plate trying to get enough on your kids’ dinner plates. The Tories like it that way. Austerity isn’t just about enriching the wealthy, it’s mostly about disempowering and disengaging the poor. Ask a disengaged and unenthused person if they want another referendum, and they’ll look at you with a glare. The Tories win by killing hope and strangling dreams, by destroying joined up thinking and grinding us down. Austerity is a tool of control.
So people ignore the omens and portents, the haruspices with the entrails of Theresa May’s cluelessness, the crystal ball that’s as cold and glassy as whatever it is that going on between the ears of Boris Johnson, the house of Tarot cards that’s more solid and stable than Whitehall’s Brexit plans. The fireball in the sky is getting brighter, let’s go to the beach and get a tan.
On Thursday, Theresa May presented her plan for the status of EU citizens in the UK to the EU. It’s a great offer, a generous offer, said Theresa. The enthusiasm about a breakthrough in the negotiations lasted as long as it took the EU to give the back of Theresa’s fag packet a cursory glance and then they said, “Meh.” It now transpires that in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, the Conservative cabinet agreed almost unanimously that the UK should unilaterally offer some strong and stable certainty to EU citizens resident in the UK. Theresa May was the only one to refuse. She wants to use them as a bargaining counter. The EU is less than impressed and now we’re seeing the result. From David Davis’s humiliating climb down earlier this week, to the president of the EU council Donald Tusk saying with a sad and disappointed face like a father who’s seen his kid pee all over his boss’s desk on bring your kid to work day that the proposal is below his expectations, the negotiations have got off to a poor start for Britain. And they’re only going to get worse.
Meanwhile Labour is as confused and clueless as David Mundell when he’s asked a question that can’t be answered by saying how bad the SNP is. Apparently the Labour party doesn’t want the hard Brexit of the Tories, and on that basis they attracted thousands of remain supporting younger voters to support them in the election. But then they say that they do want to leave the Single Market and the Custom’s Union, which is pretty much the definition of a hard Brexit. Vince Cable of the Lib Dems wrote a furious article in the Guardian about how Labour is betraying the young voters who supported the party. Lib Dems know a lot about betraying young voters. It might be the most glaring instance of pots calling kettles since Frankenstein’s Monster accused Michael Jackson of having too much plastic surgery.
But Vince does have a point. Does anyone actually know what Labour’s position on Brexit is? Lesley Laird, Labour’s new shadow Scottish Secretary, certainly doesn’t. Labour claims it’s committed to Brexit, but it’s even more confused on the details than the Tories are, and that’s a bit like saying that you’re worse at playing Scrabble than an alien from the distant galaxy where Theresa May has cooked up her Brexit plans who communicates via the medium of wet farts and suspicious smells. Which to be honest isn’t an unfair assessment of how the rest of the EU perceive the UK’s attempts at negotiations so far. Jeremy Corbyn might be politically the diametric opposite of Donald Trump, but like Trump it seems that he’s hopeless when it comes to the daily grind of politics, and only really comfortable when he’s campaigning. You can’t run a government with a placard.
Meanwhile the fireball is getting closer and closer. This week the Scottish dinosaur in chief David Mundell demanded that the furry mammals of the SNP stop making plans to dig a deep burrow and escape from the fireball. People don’t want a burrow, he said as he stamped his big clawed foot.
Even so, right now in this period of denial and let’s not think about it, slightly over half of people say that they want a referendum on independence. A large majority say that they want a referendum on the outcome of Brexit. The only way Scotland will get a referendum on Brexit is for Scotland to have its own, Westminster isn’t going to give us one. The next independence referendum will be a referendum on Brexit. As the fireball approaches and things start to heat up, the demand for a way out is going to rise.
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