Politics, like every other specialism, has its suite of technical terminology. For example there’s the sovereignty of crown in parliament, briefing paper, acquis, reserved matter, universal sufferage. To these terms we can now add another, AAAAIIIIEEEEWWWW!!!! This is the screaming sound we’ll all make when Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson takes us all over the Brexit cliff. The scream will shortly be followed by a splat that lasts for many, many, months, the sound the UK’s balloon of grandiose imperial nostalgia trip crashing onto the rocks of reality, where it will deflate like a whoopee cushion farting out the blame for its demise upon the EU, remainer MPs for not believing in Britain, Scots for being ungrateful, foreigners, and the Irish.
Over the weekend, a leaked government report was published. Called Operation Yellowhammer, it details the government’s contingency planning for a no deal Brexit. It makes for sobering reading, it’s more dire than Ruth Davidson’s electoral prospects in a snap general election. The government itself believes that there is a very real possibility of food, fuel, and medicine shortages, at least three months of chaos at ports, thousands of job losses, and the potential for serious civil unrest. It also predicts the inevitable hard border with Ireland, and the consequent risk to the peace process which that development entails. There’s taking back control for you.
Despite this, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is pressing on regardless. It’s all just a minor bump in the road to the sunny uplands populated by unicorns and never-ending cherry cake. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals with their strangulated vowels and expensively purchased sense of entitlement will be protected by their wealth, and are looking forward to reaping in even more profit from the disaster that they’re creating. They’ll be fine, and since they’re the only people whose needs matter in what passes for a democracy, there’s really nothing to worry about. Now tug that forelock and doff your cap, hairy legged Caledonian peasant, there are grouse to be beaten. Look, there’s that nice Ruth Davidson doing a photo op on the back of a castrated Highland bullock and telling you that you don’t want another referendum. Oh wait. No. She’s in hiding again. If you live in a forest in Aberdeenshire, check your shed.
Today Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is off to Cornwall, to visit a hospital full of people sick to the back teeth of Brexit. He’s got talks planned later this week with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, and he expressed the hope that they’d compromise. By which he meant cave in to everything that the UK wants, the unicorns, the neverending cake with the cherry, and all the rest. And if they don’t give Britain the exceptionalism which is rightfully the UK’s, then it will only prove that bloody foreigners can’t be trusted and it will all be their fault when Brexit goes wrong. Statesmanship these days is essentially an exercise in blame-shifting, like pass the parcel with a bag of dog shit that’s primed to explode.
This is what an actual bona fide constitutional crisis looks like. How’s that safety, security and stability of the UK working out for everyone? Meanwhile our MPs are still on holiday, despite calls from a cross party group of over 100 of them for Parliament to be recalled. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not disposed to listen to them. The less time Parliament is in session, the harder it will be for the remain majority in the Commons to block a no deal Brexit and the harder it will be for them to bring down his government before 31 October. Never has Halloween been so scary. This year it promises to unleash real demons.
The real problem here is that although Parliament can agree what it doesn’t want, it can’t agree on what it does want. It doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit, but can’t agree on a deal, can’t agree on revoking Article 50, and can’t agree on a solution to the Irish border question. It certainly can’t agree on who it wants to lead a caretaker government. The Lib Dems claim to be the party of remain, but the one thing that Jo Swinson wants less than Brexit is to see Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10, even if it’s only for a very limited period of time.
It has even been suggested that should the Commons succeed in passing a motion of no confidence in Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s government, that our PM with his fine line in racist stereotyping and lies about the EU might delay calling a General Election until after Brexit has happened. Although he’s obliged by law to call a General Election should the opposition fail to find majority support for a replacement government within two weeks of a successful motion of no confidence, the law is vague about when exactly that election needs to take place. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson could simply barricade himself into Number 10 Downing Street and refuse to budge.
Is this the UK that Scotland was sold in 2014? This is a place of chaos, confusion. It’s a government led by ideologues who treat the people with contempt, where kindness is a weakness and compassion is a sin. Just this week we saw that there are calls from a right wing think tank to raise the retirement age to 75. This is a think tank led by Iain Duncan Smith. It calls itself the Centre for Social Justice, which is a bit like North Korea calling itself a democracy. It has the ear of the Brextremists who now lead the British government. We also learned that the Home Secretary Priti Patel plans to end freedom of movement on day one of Brexit, irrespective of the problems that this will create for travel, or even worse for EU citizens living in the UK or UK citizens living in EU states. All can be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit.
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn made his big Brexit speech, promising vagueness. He said there would be another referendum on the EU, but didn’t say whether Labour would officially back remain. He didn’t rule out the Labour party remaining neutral in that referendum. He attacked Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson for his poshness and his wealth, for the way that he governs in the interests of the rich, but without a firm stance of his own on the most pressing issue of the day, he’s only likely to be steamrollered by a Brexit PM who blames the EU for all the UK’s ills and who knows how to deliver a clear message – even if that message is a lie.
Notably, Jeremy’s speech didn’t contain a single mention of Scotland. Our future is being decided by people for whom our existence scarcely registers. That’s the reality of being an equal partner in what we’re always told is the most successful union of nations that the world has ever seen. However there is one question that Brexit has answered clearly and resoundingly, and that is successful for whom? This most successful union of nations isn’t successful for Scotland. It’s successful for the Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnsons, the Etonians, the disaster capitalists, those who rip the social safety net away from the poor, the hard faced, and the cruel, the wealthy, and the well connected.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
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