Brexit and the bigger picture
Back in my old childhood home, in a hallway drawer, among the school reports and Corgi model cars, you could find a box bearing the name ‘Kerplunk’.
According to the makers, it’s a game of strategy. In effect, it’s about players taking turns to make a structure more and more unstable until it finally collapses.
My guess is that something very similar will happen in parliament this week.
Whilst ‘historic’ is a much over-used term in politics, it’s probably an apt description given the implications of voting down Teresa May’s Brexit deal. Where things get less specific though is in establishing what those implications entail.
Everyone has an opinion and a convenient supporting set of facts – and that’s the problem.
It’s no exaggeration on my part but I may well scream if I experience any more vox pop breakfast baloney with some chirpy presenter from Anywhere-on-Sea eliciting soundbite responses from punters to loaded questions.
It maddens me to see complex economic issues dumbed down to negative perceptions over immigration or stopping Johnny Foreigner from dictating the shape of bananas.
Not that politicians are any better when it comes to turning hard facts into something more flexible.
Westminster is not a happy place. You will find quite a few folks who have been blathering on about restoring “parliamentary sovereignty” now beset by second thoughts in the wake of the Commons taking back control.
And as much as Mrs May would like to portray the actions of MPs and the Speaker as a “coup”, many on her own backbenches would swiftly point out the present drawbacks that make Brexit undeliverable are of her own making.
The fact of the matter is that the majority are unwilling to drag the nation over a cliff in blind obedience to a discredited decision taken two years ago in ignorance of economic and social reality.
Making the issue a convoluted loyalty test carries as much political credibility as the slick promises once printed on the side of a bus.
Jeremy Corbyn thinks he can force a vote of no-confidence. Yet he’s been around long enough to know that rejecting the deal is not the same as rejecting the government; or the person at its head.
It may be the Ides of January but that doesn’t mean the same enforced retirement plan awaits Mrs May just yet. I rather think we’re going to see a few pragmatic rescue attempts before any daggers get drawn.
People complain that the last two years have been wasted. I disagree. The intervening period since the referendum has enabled a good number of people to understand that leaving the EU is nowhere near as painless or profitable as the Brexiteers insist.
This is what terrifies the yellow-vested rent-a-gob element who wilfully confuse the right to free speech with an ability to verbally intimidate opponents on the streets and online.
Today’s vote undoubtedly represents an ending of sorts. Determining what that ending will finally look like is speculative – and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
But maybe it will dawn on the people who represent us that making Britain ungovernable, at a time when economic and environmental events in the world demand serious attention, is potentially a much bigger betrayal in the long run.