Larry Cameron Explains Brexit


Larry “Chief Mouser” Cameron. Photo: Her Majesty’s Government.

Since everyone else with a keyboard and yesterday’s Telegraph has a view about Brexit, why not me? At least I live at 10 Downing Street, hang around with Dave and Obama, leave fur on Sam’s dresses, and have free run of the cabinet room. (Rule one: never sharpen your claws on green felt.)

So why did Dave call for a Brexit election anyway?

Look, I may only be a cat but to me it was all about ego, to run the wets, skeptics, whatever you want to call them, out of the Tory party. Dave, himself, doesn’t give a toss about whether Britain stays in or leaves the European Union, but he did want another five years as PM, and he figured, after last year’s election, now’s the time to “sharpen his claws” on the likes of Boris Johnson. Plus he never imagined that Nigel Farage and the UKIP boys would look like anything more than that Monty Python sketch, “Hitler in England,” which has the Führer campaigning around Minehead, Somerset on a bicycle.

How about the Scots? Will they bolt?

They only hung around last time, over the independence vote, because Dave and the Tories promised them both Great Britain and greater Europe. It reminded me of Obama telling everyone, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” (Yeah, I’ve met him. Nothing special. Dog guy, if you ask me.)

Well, back to Dave, he’s leaving now because he would rather not be the sitting prime minister when the Scots and Northern Ireland head for the exits and the country becomes Lesser Britain or the United Kingdom of England, Wales, and the Borough of Battersea. Talk about peeing in your water dish.

Who will be the next prime minister?

Good question. It matters to me because I am more like 10 Downing Street staff than the Cameron’s cat. (They like my popularity ratings more than they like cats.)

Anyway, the way I count the Conservative votes is that the choice will come down to Michael Gove (a snake in a worsted suit) and Theresa May (those listening to her speeches get more sleep than I do). Liam Fox will be toast, once people figure out he’s the same guy who was in the Adam Werrity scandal. (He was the fixer that Israeli middlemen paid to travel with the then Minister of Defence.)

So I guess it will be Gove, who put the boot into his pal Boris, after Johnson did all the heavy lifting on Brexit. He told all the Brexiteers (“It’s a small world after all”) in the Commons that Boris was the British Trump, erratic, unreliable, and not to be trusted to mail in notice under Article 50 to the European Union, telling them, “We’re outta here, amigos.”

May’s problem is that she wants to be Britain’s Angela Merkel and friendly toward Europe, but that will not wash among all those hard-shell Tories, who basically want to return England to the fox hunters (I’ve got no problem with that).

Will Europe fall apart over the Brexit?

Sorry to say, but yes, completely. It’s just a matter of time before that Le Pen woman in France calls for some vote similar to the Brexit thing, and then all those French who spend their summer having air-traffic control strikes can vote to divide Gaul into three parts. (Yeah, with all these Etonians running around Downing Street, I’ve picked up some Latin.)

The problem with the European Union is that the Germans, Dutch, and Austrians make all the money—really, just the Germans—and the rest of the Union spends it.

With Britain and France allied to counterbalance German influence (just like in World War I), there was a sort of equilibrium (I know, big word for a cat) in the union. With us gone, the French will think it’s only a matter of time before the Germans march into Alsace and Lorraine, or the Sudetenland, and, before that happens, they will take their snails and go home.

How come the Americans didn’t do anything to help preserve the European Union?

Look, all Obama did was rub my back and slip me some Dundee cake, but I gotta say, in Europe he comes across as a high street mannequin. Sure, he flew over here, popped in to see Dave, and then scarpered to have tea with the Queen and to get his picture taken with William, Kate and their magazine-cover kids, but it was all for the cameras and his cult of narcissism.

There were no meetings on tariffs and trade, vote counting, or bilateralism, just a lot hooey for the TV boys who camp out in front of Number 10 (where I like to sleep, mind you), shouting, “Hey, prez, over here.”

Nor do I buy any of that “pivot to Asia” pablum they feed the press corps, over why the U.S. is indifferent to Europe. Look at it this way: Obama did nothing when Greece was in crisis. Nor has he stood up to Putin (the world’s biggest dog guy) to watch Europe’s back.

Sure, he likes to take his wife to dinner in Paris, but the Europeans understand that all they are to Obama is some G-8 photo op so that the voters in Ohio can think, “Yeah, he’s doing the job.”

Check the records: whenever he comes to Europe, he’s back in D.C. on Friday and playing golf on Saturday. England’s a package tour (“two nights, all London highlights, free airport transfer, theater, meet the Queen….”).

Does Labour have a chance to come back to power?

I get this question all the time, and it tells you something about the hopelessness of British politics that even though the Tories could not catch mice in a barrel, Labour has still managed to fall apart quite nicely just on their own.

Look at what happened with Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn blew his chance to stick up for Europe, not wanting to offend his Trotskyite supporters who wave those internationale banners in Blackpool.

Okay, he said he did, sort of, you know, maybe want Britain to stay in Europe, but then also said he wanted “changes” in the EU relationship, which to Labour parliamentarians sounded like twaddle. So they gave him the two finger salute with a no-confidence vote (huge margin, too), and now he’s starting to look, well, like a cat up a tree with the fire brigade on strike.

So far nearly everyone in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet has resigned, which means Jeremy is sitting there by himself in the conference room (been there, done that), maybe wondering if he should knock out a white paper on Europe for the next party conference. But it will all be over shortly, especially now that they have caught Corbyn on tape equating Israel to Islamic State. (Rule two: never sharpen your claws on Israel.)

Does Brexit mean Trump will do well in the American elections?

When the vote went down over Europe, The Donald was playing golf at Turnberry, his posh resort on the West Coast of Scotland, south of Glasgow. Of course, when he heard that the Brits (he hates them anyway) were leaving the EU, partly over immigration, he prattled on about radical Islam, all of his Trump U wall schemes for Mexico, and how the English had “taken back their country,” which is code for “wogs out.”

All those Fox TV people (we get them in the cabinet room) have Trump pulling even in the polls against Hillary, but I don’t see it that way at all. Look, I can’t stand her because she and Bill gave away Socks (their cat), but that’s another story.

I only know Trump from television, but he strikes me as a spent force, yesterday’s hit comedy (remember Alf Garnett, the British Archie Bunker?) that nobody watches any more, or a newspaper you find in the trash after they’ve all had fish-and-chips while watching the footie.

Sure, it was fun for a while to hear him droning on about the size of his manhood or watch him lift his leg on the wheels of the Cruz bus, but now no one is listening, except maybe Chris Christie, who looks like he’s auditioning to become the Ed McMahon of American politics.

What happens next?

My guess is that Michael Gove will win the power struggle in the Conservative party and that Angela Eagle (I know, you’ve never heard of her) will rise to the top of Labour (although god knows if anything will be left). Her weakness is that she voted for the Iraq war (nobody wants anything to do with Blairism, although I have heard good things about Humphrey, who had my job when Tony was here).

This moment should be the time for the Liberal-Democrats to shine, except that Nick Clegg took the centrist, pro-Europe party into the coalition with Dave’s first government (heck of a job), and come the following election its seat total in parliament fell from 57 to 8. Beware, the Scottish Nationalists have 54 seats, and they’re flying for their cat doors.

In Europe, my guess is that before the EU gets around to holding all those meetings on how Brexit will actually happen, other disenfranchised parties will hold referendums on leaving the union.

Greece and France get my vote for the first two countries to contemplate leaving. Why Greece? It’s forking over nearly all of its foreign earnings (from Greek tourists and shipping companies) to German bankers. Why France? President François Hollande is facing reelection in 2017, and he will need some grandstand play to pacify the extreme right and left, both of which see German intrigue behind every EU soybean Edikt.

As for me, sure, I’m nervous. I don’t hear any of the packing Camerons asking, “Has anyone seen Larry’s carrier?” so I am assuming an aide will quietly pack me off to some secretary’s house in Sussex (it’s what happened to Socks, even though Hillary published that saccharine book, Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: KidsLetters to the First Pets). For Socks, it was Cy Young to sayonara with Betty Currie, who also had to clean up Bill’s litter box with Monica.

Churchill liked to say: “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” My guess is that, right now, he would find a lot to love about British politics.

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Matthew Stevenson, a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, is the author of many books including, most recently, Reading the Rails.

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