Through the Brexit looking glass

Curiouser and curiouser

This is purely a Brexit rant. I am not a fan of Brexit. If that sort of thing bores you then move along, nothing to see here.

The Ermine sits in his eyrie surveying the discombobulation that is Brexit in puzzlement. It was all supposed to be so easy in 2016. I’m reminded of that cartoon of the guy in the signalbox 1 watching train wrecks all around, muttering that’s no way to run a railroad.

Funny old crew, Brexiters. Despite the Leave conspiracy theory that it’s all Remainers wot are doing the wrecking, I think the most useful idiots in this game, from a Remainer point of view, are the misnamed European Research Group 2 . These are professional wreckers, the 21st century equivalent of Red Robbo and his crew at British Leyland. With top hats and Eton accents. I’d also remind Leavers that theirs is a broad church that contains two diametrically opposed constituencies.

One team of leavers set against the other

One of the tenets of Brexit fundamentalism is that there should be no backsliding on 2016. There was a single vote in June 2016, they got the result they wanted, that is the fundamentally determined fricking will of the people and shall stand for all time despite the bullshit said on all sides.

Brexiters don’t walk the talk, though. They always want a place to row back when they screw up. After the European Research Group failed to depose Theresa May last year, they are barred from having another go until December. Let’s hear it from the pusillanimous punk Mark Francois, vice chair of this bunch of rich spivs.

When we had an official vote of confidence prior to Christmas and 117 colleagues voted against the PM, we did not know at that time that she would be getting into bed with a Marxist with the prospect of a customs union and breaching the 2017 manifesto. Had we known that, I’m sure the vote against would be far higher. Now that everything has changed, I believe it is appropriate that colleagues should be asked again.

Mark Francois

Well hah flippin’ har Mark me old mate, you best watch where you’re going with this. While we can all admire someone who channels John Maynard Keynes 3

When my information changes, I change my mind, What do you do, sir?

obviously while this sort of revisionism doesn’t apply to the Leave vote, it does apply to ERG clever clogs trying to defenestrate the current Dear Leader of their party for consorting with the enemy. She’s got to go, ever since generally going off their message that a no deal Brexit is the best Brexit to be had. It’s all been turned up to 11 since 2016. What does the capable mother Andrea ‘Loathesome‘ Leadsom inform us about those sunny uplands promised in 2016? It would be not nearly as grim as people think. The direction of travel is all wrong round here…

Mark, since now everything has changed and all that shit on the side of Boris’s Bus seems to have turned out a load of cock, maybe this revisionism might also apply to the Great British People? Sauce for the goose and all that?

I don’t think Brexiters have anything to fear from another referendum. It appears that very few Leavers have changed their minds, but the great advantage of having another referendum is that they can confirm their desire for economic hara kiri, heck we can even give form to the method of leaving the EU, which is May’s Withdrawal Agreement, so they know what they will be buying. Unlike the original referendum which left the exact form of leaving the EU as an exercise for the reader, this one is clear. It’s actionable, it’s deliverable if they tippex the dates a little bit, and hell, it’s even agreed with the other side. What’s not to like? It’s a fair one-two punch – first vote to leave, which let every man and his dog project their hopes and fears onto the inchoate void of the unknown. Now we have turned the unknown into something that is Known, do you really want to fuck this up like that? Answers on a ballot paper, please.

Talking of channelling Let’s hear it from the ERG top brass, Jacob Rees-Mogg. What does he have to say about Britain? Basically, as a country we have the character and integrity of Humpty Dumpty

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, channeling Humpty Dumpty. Or is that the other way round. It’s difficult to tell, these days

Jake twat thusly

Parliament cannot bind its successors, the Prime Minister’s promises have not invariably proved reliable and there has been little sincerity from the EU.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Humpty Dumpty

Femi summarised it pretty well

Wow. You just basically told a foreign leader that our country can’t be trusted,

Interesting country to do business with, this ‘ere Brexit Britain, with the ERG crew at the wheel.

The ERG. A seriously proposed future prime minister sits centre stage, the dude who muttered Kipling in Myanmar until the UK ambassador told him to knock it on the head
Sure, we acquired the moniker Perfidious Albion in the 17th century, I guess revelling in it is all part of taking back control. If the cap fits, Jake. That kind of attitude might make it a teensy bit tough to strike all those trade deals with pretty much everywhere else in the world, no? After all, the EU Withdrawal Agreement seems to be the first of many that get ripped up by your crew as soon as the ink is dry. Others might take the lead from this and save the bother of talking to the UK, since its word is clearly not its bond.

One should always listen to the other side, so here’s Brexitcentral on the subject of the ERG – fine and reasonable men to a T, in fact they are so accommodating they border on quislings.

And when the history of this period is written, the ERG – the real mainstream of Leavers – will be viewed as flexible beyond belief in the face of a Government that treated them with nothing but suspicion and disdain.

Brexit Central

You really couldn’t make this shit up.

Running hard to stay still

Original plan was to save this for Friday, yet another been and gone deadline by the looks of it. But the spaffage from the Brexit ultras keeps on coming. Let’s hear it from Mark Francois again

“If, however, you attempt to hold us in the European Union against the democratically expressed will of the British people then, in return, we will become a “Trojan horse” within the EU, which would utterly derail all your attempts to pursue a more federal project.

“A new Conservative government, led by someone like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab, might vote down your budget, veto your attempts at greater military integration, and generally make it impossible for you to bring about the more federal project in which you so desperately believe” …

So my earnest message to the European council is simple. Brexit has already gone on long enough.

If you now try to hold on to us against our will, you will be facing Perfidious Albion on speed. It would therefore be much better for all our sakes if we were to pursue our separate destinies, in a spirit of mutual respect.

Oh the irony. Mark, while you are uttering threats of Perfidious Albion, you seem to be missing a trick here. One, this is not a speech showing respect towards anybody, it is the talk of the playground bully. Two, it is not in the gift of the EU to hold the UK hostage. All the poor bastards are trying to do is flatten themselves against the wall trying to get out of the way of the spinning wreckage. They’re desperately keen to not let wankers like you lot blame them for the clusterfuck. They have put up with thirty years of Brits blaming them for this that and the other, and as far as they are concerned, it can’t end soon enough. But if you want their agreement to something, ie a deal, then they get a say in what the deal looks like.

The UK could walk away tomorrow with no deal. The reason this is not happening, Mark you odious dimwit, is because your lot haven’t convinced Her Majesty’s Government that your preferred course of action is a good thing to do.

  1. Somewhere in the back of my mind I am sure I have seen a picture of this cartoon described here, in some idle surfing at work 😉 I was going to dredge it out for this. Either my Google-fu has faded since 2012, or the added detritus of several years has made it unfindable 
  2. They’re not European in outlook, and they don’t do research because they know what the answer is before they start. They are a Group of Spaffing Spivs I guess. 
  3. Or Paul Samuelson. Whatever. 

22 thoughts on “Through the Brexit looking glass”

  1. If there were a picture next to ‘gammon’ in the dictionary it would be a picture of Mark Francois. I thought Will Self’s goading of him the other day was particularly amusing/painful and highlighted Francois’s inability to grasp basic logic (according to Francois if all ‘A’s are ‘B’s then all ‘B’s must be ‘A’s).

    Actually I’ve been enjoying the Tory Meltdown (giving it capital letters in the hope it catches on), watching them tear themselves apart is one of the best things to come out of Brexit. On a more serious note we could see for the first time this year a decent amount of interest/coverage of the European elections which is progress IMO – they might even turn into an unofficial second referendum of sorts, assuming we’re still in the EU at that point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like Mark F’wit more as an enraged Penfold (from Dangermouse) after dropping acid, rabidly frothing at the mouth with the madness, thrashing his porky little arms around while daring anyone who thinks they’re hard enough to come and have a go at him. (because he was a weekend warrior in Dad’a army when slim back in the day apparently)


    2. I look forward to voting in the EU elections, and I will favour anybody with a positive vision for the EU and disfavour JR-M wreckers. There’s already some riff-raff in there from my region that could do with some pushback 😉

      It beats me how people who claim to care deeply about sovereignty are unable to grasp that is is not the EU that is holding the UK in the EU against its will. The UK has the sovereign right to clear off without a deal, as a counterparty the EU has the right to say under what circumstances it will take part in a deal.

      If the ultras haven’t gotten that through their numb skulls and are blaming the EU for the delay they are totally bonkers and need to get a grip of some fundamental principles.


      1. It looks like De Gaulle was right in preventing the English from joining the club for as long as he could, seeing their bid as a trojan horse for wreckers that would seek it’s destruction out of the dyed-in-the-wool sense of their own exceptionalism. Most Brits have no appreciation of the strength of the mainland Europeans’ desire to avoid mutually destructive wars, which the island of Ireland now understandably shares. They care far more for peaceful and mutually prosperous coexistence than simply money to the exclusion of all else, a philosophy retaining the piracy spirit of England’s history.

        The general suspected that England wouldn’t let that warmongering instinct go and only wanted to break the new union (which they saw as a threat to their own) if they couldn’t control it for their own ends alone.


      2. Obviously a lot will change between now and then, but for the first time I’ve seen a poll of voting intentions for the European Elections in May:

        Interesting stuff, I reckon combined together it shows Hard-Brexit parties on 18%, Pro-Referendum parties on 20%, Tories on 23% and Labour on 38%. So it all kind of hinges on Labour really and what their view is, do they want a soft-brexit or a 2nd referendum?

        Also interesting is that Remainers are more likely to vote than Leavers.

        I think the Tories and Theresa May will be particularly keen to avoid these elections if they possibly can, because (a) they’ll take a hammering, and (b) it throws into question what the will of the people now is and whether the 2016 referendum still stands.


    3. Poor old Mark looked like he was about to have an aneurysm in that interview although I suspect he knew exactly what Will Self meant and his faux outrage was for the benefit of his supporters.


  2. Very much like the blog and this particular article.

    As a naturally centre right conservative and someone who voted remain largely on economic grounds I have become incredibly dismayed by what I have seen over the last twelve months.

    Can anyone remember a time when the current crop of politicians were worse than the ones we have elected today? Is this a symptom of the fact that people would vote for a gorilla if it was aligned to a particular party?

    The cognitive dissonance amongst leavers is breathtaking. Leaving the single market (forget the customs union) will dramatically impact our economy. For example, I work in financial services for an investment bank and can say that Brexit plans we have involve moving significant numbers of people and activity to Continental Europe. This is one of the few remaining world class industries we have.

    ‘We voted to take back control, our money and our borders’

    Ok – control. So we leave the single market. This will dramatically impact financial services (which at 6.5 per cent of gdp is 55x larger than fishing according to parliament briefings). People may not like it but it pays for the schools and hospitals not just the teachers and nurses.

    So we can’t afford the nhs and schools to close down so naturally we will try to come to some agreement whereby we retain access to the single market for financial services through financial equivalence. This may or may not be given by the EU. I suspect it will because our financial services expertise is also important to the EU. But that equivalence can be withdrawn at short notice and we are now a rule taker where before we had a key role in setting rules. So I ask any leaver…how is that taking back control and how do you propose to counter this devastating impact to one of our key industries if we do not retain access? Please do no say WTO…that is just tariffs and does not cover regulations which is what financial services is about. There is no magic answer.

    I have heard some people who appear to be suffering from the dunning Kruger effect that if we leave our manufacturing industry will magically recover forgetting that a) it has recovered to a certain extent due to being in the single market (eg car industry) b) the Germans sell twice as much as us to the Chinese and they don’t seem to struggle with the customs union. The issue is we don’t as a nation make enough products to sell.

    So we want control of our money. total uk government expenditure was £772 billion in 2027. Even if you ignore the £39 billion is gross that’s half a per cent. Er so we have control of 99.5 per cent of our money but that’s not good enough?! That’s ignoring the rebates and the massive economic benefit of being in the single market.

    So we want control of our borders….here I admit leavers have a point albeit the opposing arguments of a) half the immigration in 2016 coming from outside uk b) ageing population c) low unemployment d) limited evidence of wage suppression. Personally think the best way to deal with this is to be amongst it within the European Union and fight for reform.

    Which brings me to my next rant…if you look back through history, the UK has been best at driving its own interests when it’s been in and amongst it with other European countries not withdrawing into splendid isolation…..

    If people can stop gazing internally and look what is happening globally it is pretty worrying and by that I principally mean China. They will shortly become the worlds largest economy which will be the first time for hundreds of years that the worlds largest economy was not a democracy (yes I know the flaws in the US and British empire but broadly speaking apart from the last twenty years of disastrous foreign policy they have been to the UK’s benefit). The UK will be taken to the negotiating cleaners by China on our own. That in itself should be causing our politicians to think we are better served being in the EU.

    I am not a dogmatic remainer. The idea of further European integration which is a likely need with a single currency feels me with no enthusiasm and we should resist. On the 25th January this year, the day in which our mp’s were rightly vomiting on the governments withdrawal treaty the European Union put out a directive saying they intend to harmonise corporate tax rates. Er no thanks, we’ll be using our veto on that one (as will Ireland). But it’s best to achieve reform inside the tent rather than in the freezing cold outside whilst trying to piss on the guide ropes.

    But we currently have a, relatively speaking, great deal. As the prime minister of Luxembourg said, the UK is in with a load of opt outs and now it wants to be out with a load of opt ins.

    And what made people think that the E.U. would break the rules of the single market and give us a great deal outside the E.U. For every elderly British person who harks back to a mystical time when things were ‘better’ (er when was that) there is an equal elderly French / German person who can remember the aftermath of the horrors of the Second World War. They ain’t going to risk European integration for us.

    If we leave and ever seek to rejoin her are very unlikely to have a better deal than we have now (no euro, no schengen).

    Only hope is that the Continental Europeans rescue us from our own fate, display some superior statemanship realising that somehow bringing the UK back onboard would be a massive win win situation for everyone. This is bad for them and very bad for us.

    Sorry everyone for the rant.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Xeny

        You are right and I put my incorrect numbers down to a lapse of accuracy.

        Our net contribution in 2017 was £8.9 billion according to parliament briefings which is approximately 1.1 per cent. of public expenditure. Not sure where my brain fade came from, although I would hope people would generally agree that as we still therefore ‘control’ 99 per cent. of our money the conclusion is unchanged.

        One could argue membership of nato is a greater loss of control given the requirement (admittedly unfulfilled by most of our neighbours) to spend two per cent of gdp annually. I am in favour of both.

        Thanks for pointing out the error!


  3. Well spoken, Ermine, you could be voicing my own discontent with the whole dreadful mess.

    I’ve been surprised at the level of my anger at proceedings at this late stage: after the initial nasty surprise in 2016, I’d settled into a steady state of slight gloom. On one level I don’t have a lot to worry about; I have a second passport, not EU, for a country I’d be happy to live in full time, I got 90% of my assets out of sterling / UK before the referendum and escaped being creamed for 15% as sterling took a walk off a cliff, yet I’m reliably reduced to frothing anger at the usual suspects. Maybe it’s denial, but something seems to have gone disastrously wrong when the bar is set so low that pond life like Francois, Smogg, Baker, Gove, Johnson et al can seize the controls and steer this country to disaster. It’s like watching the yobs of 4D taking over the school and introducing a regime of bullying, fear and time wasting; you know things can’t end well.

    It’s also tied up with distant memories of the pre-Thatcher, prelapsarian England that I remember as a kid, way back in the early ’60s (ok, maybe slightly rose-coloured etc) and how signally, and how in so many ways the UK now fails to measure up. With the benefit of hindsight, we’ve reached the logical and inevitable end point of the Thatcher revolution. Everything’s been sold off or is up for sale, the one way gamble on services is looking very shaky now, heavy industry and home-owned manufacturing is like hens’ teeth, foodbanks are everywhere, ie people would be going hungry without them, the gap between rich and poor is widening, house prices are out of reach for a huge and increasing number of people, a rentier economy is flourishing as a result. It’s a return to a Victorian society but without the dynamism, focus or future. I don’t see it being turned around, god help us.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. New normal of British politics. You can expect us to be arguing with ourselves and with the EU about the trade deal we will get until 2025 at least…

    … meantime I expect the UK economy to perform about as well as Italy.

    If you think you’ve seen an unhappy country you haven’t seen anything yet


  5. Superb post and always enjoy reading when the ermine sinks his teeth into the whole revolting Brexit fiasco. Short of plague and nuclear war, it is difficult to think of anything that could have done more damage to our country.

    As for the ERG fanatics, recalling how much they love Kipling, the sooner these creatures are sent to the political graveyard the better, with the following writ large across their tombs:

    I could not dig: I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.
    Now all my lies are proved untrue
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tale shall serve me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?


    1. That Kipling is a peach, the only part of the poem that sits ill with the ERG is the reference to a statesman 😉 Now for a way to pin it on BoJo’s back. At least the torygraph took a hit for printing the lying liar’s lies because it suited their agenda. No, BoJo, although there’s some evidence a significant part of the UK populace has taken leave of its senses it’s not so bad as to generate a majority for no deal. Comment is free but facts are sacred old boy, the defence of asserting utter codswallop by calling it satire won’t wash.


  6. I’m not sure whether the ultra, Tim Loughton, was exhibiting some kind of Freudianism when during the debate on Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 he said –

    “The first 100 marginals that the Labour party must win include 78 for leave, and we know that a similar number of the marginals that we on the Conservative side must win are strongly for leave. At the moment, we have a free market in terms of leave votes—UKIP has disappeared, and there is no one else. If we are so stupid as to pass this motion tonight and to go for a European election—I appeal to my colleagues on the Front Bench—we will singlehandedly give a new party an opportunity to emerge…and that would be a great mistake.”

    Even one of his colleagues was forced to remind him “…this is about getting it right for our country—for businesses and employees. It is not about grubbing around for votes.”.

    Yeah, right.


  7. Thanks for your remarkably restrained analysis, if I had a blog I would have been ranting at least weekly (and hourly some days) at how ludicrous it is. Politicians have shown themselves to be as self-centred as we feared, and comments where they prioritise safeguarding their party over doing the best for their country are typical.

    Ultimately May’s withdrawal agreement is the best (in other words least worst) option given her starting point. Not surprisingly the rest of the EU don’t want to relive the frustrations of the last 2 years by repeating negotiations from a different starting point (which is what Johnson and Corbyn are effectively demanding). The fact that the agreement can’t get Parliament’s approval could be seen as MPs doing their job by not approving something against the country’s interest, but in reality just represents the result of multiple entrenched dogmas. No Brexit is beneficial, the Brexit of milk and honey promised by Johnson and Farage turns out to have no milk and only a slim possibility of honey in ten years time.

    To get out of the stalemate, all it needs is someone with elementary arithmetic ability to point out to Theresa May that she would have the SNP, Liberals, Independents and half the Labour MPs supporting her agreement if she added it being subject to confirmation by a public vote – so that it would pass despite some Conservatives withdrawing support. I thought her blindness to that simple fact was self-preservation, but now she has indicated her intention to resign anyway that motivation is unnecessary. I still suspect she would make that change if she could just find a way of avoiding responsibility (“… I only did it because Tusk/Corbyn/whoever insisted”).


    1. I always thought she has stayed so long out of a deep sense of duty rather than self preservation. I’ve read several times that she doesn’t really enjoy the role.

      The problem is she sees that duty as being to the Conservative party rather than the nation as a whole. Everything is about preserving the party even though that appears extremely unlikely.


  8. Fear not all ye faithful, thou shalt now not be bored over the Easter break, for the scriptwriters have sorted out our supply so no fix is left behind. Our Nigel Farigner has started a new party to liven things up, (totally co-incidentially keeping the limelight on the gurning narcisist) the old one apparently having been rotten-to-the-core with bigotry. Yes really, I know ! So the new improved anti-European one is the full-fat version, no stinting on ignorant prejudice for the believers. who said religion was dying?


  9. FYI there’s a malicious ad on this page, in mobile at least. Automatically redirects the browser to a fake Google “survey” on a dodgy url with auto-playing audio. Can’t return to the blog post.


    1. I’m unable to replicate this, though I am saddened to see the number of ads on the page, it’s the first time I have seen it on mobile. And without an ad-blocker 😉

      I went to precisely so that there would be professionals on the case of security and updating as I had trouble with WordPress self-hosted. I guess it’s possible that have a rogue ad in there; without being able to replicate the fault I can’t chase it or moan to someone – sorry 😦


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