Are we headed for Brexit in name only?
I once came across an article about ‘unimpeded logic’. I won’t go into particulars but it involves a linear kind of thinking that states all horses have four legs; this table has four legs, therefore this table is a horse.
Another example might be: “We must do something. This irrational action is something; so let’s do it”.
It’s rather worrying how such a desperately flawed outlook seems to thrive both within and outside the Palace of Westminster when it comes to Brexit.
I know its unwise to second guess matters in these surreal times. Nonetheless, it looks like the factional stalemate is headed for the political long grass.
Just like everyone else, I’m left pondering what happens next and who is best placed to make it happen.
For me, the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anyone capable of sorting things out is an indication of the malaise that brought us to this point in the first place.
As I write, there’s a cartoon on my desk in which Theresa May is painting over a floor covered in Ukip emblems with a fresh coat of Conservative colours. The cartoonist depicts her as horrified at realising she’s now stuck in the corner.
Despite be charged with the responsibilities of a representative body, purportedly working in the nation’s best interest, the last twenty years has seen key debates in the House of Commons become primarily regarded as partisan contests.
We've watched as consensual politics has been eroded in favour of power-plays and thought it was the norm. Although notionally an exercise in wider democracy, the referendum managed to compound things to the extent that polarisation now as much defines us as divides as a nation.
MPs who publicly refer to the “will of the people” privately admit that Brexit is a hideously complex issue with factors that make it largely undeliverable, posing huge problems for manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
Their dilemma is how do you communicate that with electoral impunity to constituents who sincerely believe leaving is an easy option, mostly because they were assured it’s true by other politicians in a red bus.
Nowadays, as someone observed on social media, the pro-Brexit refrain of “just get on with it” carries similar weight to your kids in the back seat shouting “are we there yet?”.
You might argue that after two successive defeats, the message delivered from parliament to the prime minister and cabinet is one of “you lost, move on”. However, as tory veteran tory Ken Clarke commented, taking back control is one thing, actually doing something practical with that power is quite another.
Unlike government, parliament is constrained by arcane procedures and standing orders. So much so that any outcome achieved by a series of amendments could well result in the BRINO acronym allegedly used by civil servants – and which stands for “BRexit In Name Only”.
In such troubled times when crisis calls for clear thinking, I turn to the same impeccably informed sources for guidance. Sadly however I cannot yet find a bookie offering decent odds on Theresa May’s resignation, a general election or the likely options included in any potential second referendum.
Just like parliament though, I’ll probably try again next week.