The guns have finally stopped, for now. The French hunting season, which seems as interminable as the long winter itself, ended last Tuesday at about teatime. There was a flurry of activity just before the legal cut off point, hi-viz jacketed men out in their droves blasting away at whatever was moving in the undergrowth. I even saw one hiding behind a concrete electricity pylon, as if in fear of a particularly vicious pheasant. And then, at about 6, the guns fell silent. I’d love to say that at this point the pheasants, partridges and rabbits all emerged, joined hands, donned Carmen Miranda outfits and held a Mardi Gras right in front of the hunters but life, alas, isn’t always like a Warner Brothers cartoon.
The intrusiveness of the hunters seems more pronounced every year. They have no regard for other people’s property or peace. It’s a tradition, they say loudly, and traditions must be observed. It’s funny how people pick and choose what is good tradition and what is bad. I watched Norman Tebbit in the House of Lords Brexit debate decry Britain’s lack of ‘Gunboats’ this week, as if that’s been a sane policy option in well over a hundred years. Norman Tebbit is like a racist old nan who’s wheeled out only at Christmas because her views, especially after a few Port and Lemons, are just too reactionary. He was picked up for his use of the word ‘foreigner’ in the debate, but it’s Tebbit, let’s be honest it could have been far worse. Semantics like this are just a smokescreen anyway, actually listen to what he’s saying. He was talking about British nationals in the EU, ‘The duty of any government is to protect its citizens,’ he said, ‘not foreigners.’ The latter part referring to EU nationals in the UK. How can you do one without the other? How is that possible? We’re going to undermine the rights of your people in our country but don’t you dare do the same to ours in yours? Seriously what planet are some of these people living on?
John Redwood, and isn’t it odd how Brexit has brought the one-eyed mediocrities back into the limelight? John Redwood has suggested that any British based business that doesn’t loudly support Brexit will suffer consequences, bosses could be sacked for example, contracts not given out. So that’s what taking back democratic control means does it? Operating like the mafia with open threats and political patronage. And what about businesses who only export? They’re supposed to loudly cheer as sales dip and they’re forced to battle protectionism now that they’re no longer members of the world’s largest trading block, are they?
It’s just nonsense. Utter nonsense. And then, just as you think that that’s about the limit of paranoid raving doolallytattery, Theresa May tells the Scottish Conservative Party Conference, held ambitiously in a conference hall in Glasgow and not a boat house on Loch Lomond, that there is ‘no economic argument for leaving the union’. Some people, she said, ‘were obsessed with independence.’ She was talking, astonishingly, about Scotland itself and not her own economically-suicidal and independence-obsessed government.
We seem to be being driven down a road by lunatics who are ignoring speed limits, traffic lights and roadblocks to get their plan realised before too many people actually stop and go, ‘hang on, this is bonkers.’ Ed Morrish said it best on Facebook,
‘What seems to have happened is that we asked everyone if they wanted the chicken or the vegetarian option, and 52% of people, fed up with vegetarians dictating what we can and can’t eat (even though there’s no evidence that happened), chose the chicken. And now we’re all having chicken. And we’ve got to the restaurant and the chicken’s gone off.
People who wanted the vegetarian option still want it; some of the others would now prefer to switch, given the state of the chicken; but we’re still all having chicken because that’s what they wanted and they don’t care if we get botulism.’
Still though, there’s the public swagger that the chicken option is still the best, while Ministers have, on the quiet, been told to prepare very heavily for ‘botulism’ as Britain will likely walk away from the EU negotiations. I can’t see it happening any other way. Britain wants to be seen to be immediately benefitting from Brexit, which is impossible as new trading agreements and markets take years to arrange, and the EU is never going to agree to anything where Britain is better off out. The two are incompatible. So Britain will likely just say, ‘yah boo sucks to you Johnny Foreigner – we’re off!’ It’s a decision that even this government knows will cost the country billions and billions of pounds. And jobs. So, further cuts then. Austerity squared.
Some are feeling it already. Cornwall, which voted for Brexit, asked for its £60 million of EU funding to be guaranteed by the government after the initial vote. To which the government said no. Though why they didn’t just send a bus down to Cornwall with a sign on the side saying, ‘Yeah, whatever…’ beats me. It’s like Oliver Twist approaching Mr Bumble.
‘Please sir, can I have some more?’
‘More, boy! More! You voted to have no food, my lad remember? But on the bright side, you now control your own poverty and starvation.’
The reason for this sudden urgency is that May wants to trigger Article 50 before the end of March. She has to deliver her letter of Britain’s resignation by then to suit her own timetable of two-year negotiations, followed by a pre-2020 election hard sell. Also, it appears, all the people who need to be informed will be too busy to see her after April what with the French General Election, German General Election, Easter, Whitsun bank holiday, the FA Cup and so on. The timings are tight now of course, but I think also she’s very aware of just how ropey things are looking. The press are with her, according to Alistair Campbell that’s because she’s privately made a deal to ‘park Levenson’, but someone soon will point out that the Emperor is actually stark bollock naked. That the post-EU banquet that Britain was sold on is actually no feast at all, but the last sandwich left in the service-station chiller at 2am. Its crusts are curled, the filling inadequate and the Best Before date is 24 June, 2016.
Thank you for reading this blog, so far it’s had about 200,000 views. Feedback is always welcome, from all sides, but keep the abuse to a minimum because I’ve got a bad back am whacked out on painkillers and liable to kick off.
This will form part of my new book about Brexit, my quest for French nationality and the perennial issue of arsy goats and cats. If you are a publisher/Literary agent interested in talking about the book version, please get in touch. It will be ready and finished by the end of March and could be out in time for the Brexit anniversary.
You can buy my two best-selling books here.