The Prime Minister is like one of those antibiotic resistant bacteria. The closest thing that she has to a political principle is MSRA. It doesn’t matter what countermeasures you throw at it, it’s still there, giving you stomach cramps and nausea.
On Tuesday, Theresa May went to Northern Ireland to tell Irish people all about Ireland. Ireland is a big island, she told them. It’s got water around it. Blue water, the same colour as the Conservative party, which means that she really cares about it. Ireland has fields. It has roads and houses. It has hedges and trees. No one cares more about Northern Ireland than she does, which is why she’s only speaking to the DUP and no one else.
She told the audience of increasingly bewildered Irish people, because she was being very clear, that she will do whatever it takes to keep the border open apart from keeping the UK in a customs union, keeping Northern Ireland a customs union, or signing up to the backstop. Theresa is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep the border open just as long as it’s not one of those things that can keep the border open. This is because the union is precious, so very precious, as it delivers her the DUP votes that she needs to keep her show on the road. And Ireland has roads too, so they have so much in common.
Seemingly unaware that she was speaking to an audience which had largely voted to remain, Theresa pressed on. Mostly by repeating herself and saying nothing that made any sense. The single political talent that Theresa May possesses is the ability to utter words that have a semblance of meaning, but as soon as they collide together in a sentence all sense vanishes. Her political speeches are to meaning as a cloud is to a hard surface. It looks solid from a distance, but if you try to stand on it you’re doomed.
Faced with people who were obviously not impressed by Theresa’s nebulosity and were demanding some firm and concrete answers to the question of the Irish border, a question which was directly affecting their lives, livelihoods, and businesses, Theresa backtracked on what she’d been saying last week, which itself was backtracking on what she’d been saying the week before. This is a Prime Minister who changes direction more frequently than a Mighty Mouse roller coaster in a 1970s fairground, all the while insisting that she’s going in a straight line and isn’t stuck on an eternal loop to nowhere.
Yesterday Theresa was insisting that there was still going to be a backstop, it’s just that some changes were required to it. That’s the same backstop that she’d told Arlene Foster and the DUP just the previous week that was absolutely, positively, definitely out of the question. The DUP have been very upset by the EU’s refusal to renegotiate the backstop. Arlene Foster called the EU intransigent, which is a bit like a zombie slating you for having too much meat in your diet.
The EU has repeated that the Irish backstop is not up for renegotiation. It only exists in the first place because of the red lines of Theresa May. It is only necessary because the UK has proven that it cannot be trusted. This is a British government which with its exceptionalism and its constant demands to have all its cake after eating it has trashed whatever residual goodwill it once had in Europe. Every change in course from Theresa May, every reversal of a previously held position, and the trust and confidence that the EU has that it’s dealing with a serious negotiating partner vanishes. There’s now no trust left in Britain. Negotiating with the UK is like negotiating with a blancmange. Although even a blancmange is able to hold its shape for longer than ten minutes.
Faced with a UK government which has no clue, no plan, and is plainly just making things up as it goes along and whose political aims consist of getting the Prime Minister through the next ten minutes, Donald Tusk now speaks like a man who has no tosses left to give. He wondered what the special place in hell looked like for those who backed Brexit without so much as the sketch of a plan, he told a press conference on Wednesday.
The Brexists were outraged, which to be fair is their baseline state. What an insult to the British people, they harrumphed. Although here we are over two years after the EU referendum, with less than two months to go until the British government’s own chosen date for Brexit, and they still haven’t come up with a plan. The nearest that they have is unspecified “alternative arrangements” for the Irish border. That’s not a plan, as it encompasses everything from the invention of teleportation to the insistence that goods can be transported across the border on the backs on unicorns, but manages to rule out anything that counts as realistic.
Back in 2014, the constant refrain from supporters of the British state hurled at independence supporters was “Where’s your plan B?”. There was a plan A. It was detailed and comprehensive. You might not have agreed with all its details but it most certainly existed. So British nationalists demanded a plan B instead. And if there was a plan B, they’d have worked their way down through the alphabet.
Even Baldrick’s plans were more cunning. Brexit is almost upon us and the goons of gammonry still don’t have a plan A, because they’re political illiterates. Before you can write a plan you need to know the alphabet. This bunch of clowns would struggle with a unicorn colouring in book and a crayon. It’s not so much a plan A as – plan, Eh?
How’s that safety, security, and stability of the British state working out?
From a Scottish perspective, that special place in hell looks like a Scotland which is silenced and sidelined within a British state which pays not the slightest heed to Scotland’s concerns or needs. A special place in hell is a Scotland that is held hostage to English nationalism wrapped up in a Union fleg. A special place in hell is being told that we are valued partners in a family of nations by a Prime Minister we didn’t vote for who treats us with contempt and who insists that she has a veto over our future. A special place in hell is the loss of our employment and civil rights that awaits us under Tories whose hands are no longer tied by Europe.
A special place in hell is Brexit Britain.
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