Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?

Photo Source Matt Brown | CC BY 2.0

The UK’s Brexit chaos continues, and many a banana republic may be patting itself on the back, or sighing with relief, for managing similar affairs a tad more adroitly.

The faux-bemused and absolutely cynical eurocrats look on, knowing that whatever happens eurocracy will prevail–  there will be a divorce (or maybe not, who knows?), but whatever ensues is going to be on the EU’s terms.

The EU’s representatives have saidas much—they want the UK to “stare into the no-deal abyss”, recoil in horror, and take whatever the EU offers.  An impressive model of how to play hardball in negotiations!

The real crisis is thus an internal matter for the UK, and here there is no way forward for anything that approximates to its possible resolution.

The Tory party, though in government, is in a state of open civil war, not just between Remainers and Brexiters, but also between the various factions and their comedic leaders jostling to lead the party when the proverbial shit hits the fan.  Senior Tories mock and taunt each other in the media on a daily basis.

The two main contenders in the fight (for that is what it is) to be the next Tory leader are the appalling BoJo Johnson and the so-called Hon Member for the 18thcentury, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

BoJo is Britain’s facsimile of the orange inhabitant of the White House. Congenitally incapable of paying serious attention to anything, he has failed dismally in the major positions (London mayor, UK foreign secretary) he’s occupied, and this week was dumped by his wife of 24 years, who finally had enough of his multiple infidelities, and penchant for a certain stimulative white powder.  It is a reflection of the Tory party’s wretched state today that this shallow narcissist and shameless self-promoter is in the running for its future leadership.

Rees-Mogg, perpetually black-suited like an undertaker, affects anachronistic values (hence his soubriquet), but in reality is a shrewd businessman with a fondness for tax-dodging schemes–  in the event of a much-predicted economic collapse après Brexit he’s started to move his family fortune to Ireland (which of course is an EU member).

So what of Brexit?

A few weeks ago the robotic Theresa May called a summit meeting of her cabinet to work out a negotiating-platform to be submitted to the eurocrats. The summit agreement—called the Chequers deal after the venue where it was negotiated– held for 24 hours before her dim-witted, ex-special forces Brexit minister David Davis (“I wasn’t given this job for my intellect”) jumped shipped and submitted his resignation from the cabinet, followed in short-order by BoJo.

BoJo and Davis were not followed by other cabinet members, but in any event the Chequers agreement was dead upon arrival—the eurocrats rejected it as “unworkable” even as the two cabinet resignations were being tendered.

May however keeps insisting that is either the Chequers proposal for a deal with the EU or a “no deal” Brexit. She has been backed on this by the minister for the environment, Michael Gove, who is another aspirant for the leadership.

Gove, who has good form when it comes to past acts of duplicity, is probably taking the line that those who wield the knife (BoJo and Rees-Mogg) never wear the crown.  May’s anxious eye will probably be focused just as much on the wily Gove as it is on the two knife-wielders.

Brexit has thus been plunged into a vacuum or black hole.  Who should jump into it but the ever-opportunistic Tony Blair!  Blair, a Remainer also mooting the possibility of a new “centrist” party, proposed, idiotically, that the EU should be invited to make the UK an “offer” on Brexit.  This would certainly pump air into the vacuum, because such an “offer”, if it were ever forthcoming, would certainly be one that made it more advantageous for the UK to remain in the UK, albeit on the EU’s terms. Blair would undoubtedly lap this up, but the Brexiters who won the referendum would probably resort to civil unrest if Blair’s suggestion got anywhere.

The Brexit chaos grabs all the headlines, while other news gets submerged.

This week a major study by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) revealed that there are now more than 14,000,000 people in the UK living in poverty (nearly 25% of the population) — 8.4 million working-age adults, 4.5 million children and 1.4 million pensioners are living below the breadline today.  Nearly half of those people – 6.9 million – live in families with a disabled person.

This state of affairs has been caused, in the main, by the Tory government’s cruel austerity agenda.

The New York Times, citinga report from the Center for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, says that “by 2020, reductions already set in motion will produce cuts to British social welfare programs exceeding $36 billion a year compared with a decade earlier, or more than $900 annually for every working-age person in the country”.

Austerity, said to be driven by economic “necessity” (i.e. reducing the deficit, which however has nearly doubled since austerity was introduced), is really a subterfuge for transferring wealth upwards from the have-less to the have-lots.

The primary instrument for achieving these welfare cuts is the “welfare to workfare” scheme called Universal Credit.  The aim of Universal Credit is to drive hopelessly vulnerable, and often severely disabled people, into poorly-paid jobs.  People on their death-beds from cancer have been passed as “fit to work”, and thus deprived of their benefits at a stroke, by Universal Credit adjudicators (with no qualifications as healthcare professionals!) who are given turn-down targets to meet by the contracted-out adjudication service. Apparently you can be deemed fit to work by adjudicators as long as you are able to hold a pen in your hand, and say your name and give your address, despite having only weeks to live from your terminal cancer.

The only half-good news from Ukania this week is that its counterpart to Ann Coulter, the equally vile Katie Hopkins, lost a libel suit and has been driven into bankruptcy. Sometimes good things do happen to bad people.



Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.