After the devastating defeat of the government’s Brexit deal on Tuesday, came Wednesday’s vote of confidence called by Jeremy Corbyn. As expected, those Tories who voted down the central policy of their own government yesterday lined up to support it today. They might hate Theresa May’s deal, but they hate Jeremy Corbyn even more. The government has survived, it’s alive but not living.
After the vote, Theresa May came out of Downing Street to address the UK from a podium. “It’s time to put self-interest aside,” said the woman who’s done nothing but pursue self-interest for the past two and a half years. The speech was very much in line with her Brexit strategy to date, which is to waste everyone’s time. The only thing this brief speech had going for it was that it only wasted a couple of minutes of everyone’s time, instead of two and a half years. That is as close to progress on Brexit that this government is going to get.
The gist of Theresa’s speech is that everyone should come together to help Theresa deliver some version of the deal that was so resoundingly rejected just the day before. Plan B is to talk to other parties and other parts of her own party, with the aim of getting them all to agree to Plan A. We’re so glad that Theresa has cleared all that up for us. Hold the front page! The Prime Minister has just come out with the same bollocks that she came out with yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. And the day before that … We’re living in Groundhog Day without the happy ending.
The Prime Minister’s infamous red lines remain intact. Her determination that only that half of the UK which voted for Brexit needs to be listened to remains intact. Her fixation on immigration and ending freedom of movement remains intact. My husband’s 18 month old niece is currently fixated with videos of The Wheels On The Bus on YouTube. Even she shows greater mental flexibility than Theresa May does. At least the wheels on the wean’s bus are going round and round. Theresa’s are going nowhere. The wean’s going through a phase. With Theresa it’s a way of being.
It seems an eternity ago now, but it really wasn’t that long ago that Theresa May came out of that same door, stood in front of that same podium, and told everyone that she was calling a snap general election in order to get backing for her vision of Brexit from the electorate. The electorate was not impressed with her vision of Brexit and stripped her of her majority. Yet Theresa May continued as though nothing had happened. And here she is, with only a few weeks to go before Brexit day, making the same appeal. She even had the utter gall, the sheer nerve, the complete brass neckery, to repeat the claim that in that general election over 80% of people voted for parties which supported Brexit, trying to claim for herself Labour votes. In Theresaworld everyone who voted Labour supports her now. That’s a consequence that those indy supporters in Scotland who said they’d back the Corbyn project could never have seen coming.
A general election made no difference to Theresa. A vote in the Commons, even a vote as clear and resounding as Monday’s, made not the slightest bit of difference to the government. It’s got to the point where you do have to ask yourself whether the UK remains a representative democracy. Because the only voices being represented here are the ones in Theresa May’s head. Just when you think that she’s been told once and for all that her scheming, her shittery, and her stubborn intransigence won’t wash, there she comes again with a new bucket of soap. She starts off talking about the need to reach out to other parties and other opinions, and then immediately makes her pitch to Brexit supporters.
There’s being stubborn and there’s dangerous self-delusion. It’s now time to ask whether Theresa May’s refusal to engage with reality is pathological. This is a woman whose personal shortcomings are now endangering all of us. Even now, even after all that has happened, she’s still sticking to her red lines and still refusing to rule out a chaotic no deal Brexit. And Jeremy Corbyn is still trying to forestall a second EU referendum. Paralysis is policy.
All we have is chaos. All we have is confusion. All we have is a knot in history that tightens in our stomachs. The safety, security, and stability of the UK. Punching above our weight turns out to be a punch in the head. Safer, faster, better change, off the cliff and into the void. Scotland was told to vote for the sensible choice of the UK. Vote realism, not romanticism, they told us. Scotland listened and found that we got turned to stone in Narnia in the time of the Ice Queen who’s worshipping a unicorn. She’s demanding we join in the Brexit prayer, “We won the war you know. We stood alone we plucky few. They need us more than we need them.”
The ideology of Britishness is a toxic nostalgia that pollutes our airwaves, fills our supermarkets, and tells us that compassion is a crime and empathy is for losers. It has no space in it for a Scotland that’s distinctive in any way. It has no tolerance for a Scotland that seeks a kinder, gentler, way. The old Britain, the Britain of the NHS, of free education, of a social security system that provided a safety net for all, it’s dead now. The lesson of Brexit is that those values can only flourish in an independent Scotland.
Meanwhile a new poll for the Herald has found that 56% of the paper’s readers believe that Scotland should have another independence referendum if Brexit goes ahead. It’s now impossible for opponents of independence to credibly argue that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum, although that won’t stop them trying.
The tide is returning to the sealochs and the firths. The tide is high, the currents running. It’s about to wash away the Ice Queen’s sandcastle with the union fleg in its crumbling turret. It’s time for Scotland to go to the shore and welcome the sea that connects us to the world.
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