Full English Brexit: #37

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Lifting the Lid


It may seem something of a leap to compare Brexit with classic family cinema entertainment, but there’s the whiff of the final scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark about the whole thing at the moment. A convenient alliance between zealots and mercenaries has captured its prize, and they stand on the threshold of greatness with untold power at their disposal. It’s everything they’ve ever wanted. The Ark of the Covenant needs to be opened though for that power to be harnessed. It is opened, but the moment it is all literal Hell is unleashed. A dark force of uncontrollable energy bursts forth, ripping the complacent ‘winners’ from where they stand…


I think we’d all rather hoped that with the much heralded triggering of Article 50, things would sort of calm down a bit. That the sabre-rattling and bolshie rhetoric would be left aside, like childish things, and sober, pragmatic negotiation could finally begin. Not a bit of it. If quiet, civilised negotiations have begun in pleasant surroundings somewhere then, to use another film reference, they must be like the dinner party in Carry on Up The Khyber, well-mannered custom gravelly adhered to while Barbarians assault the walls of gentility. The world has gone mad very, very quickly and the day after April Fool’s Day, three days after Prime Minister May delivered her divorce letter, Michael Howard, former leader of the Conservative Party, now Baron Howard of Lympne says ‘Theresa May would go to war with Spain to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar.’


Social media, ok not the sanest of environments at the best of times, is awash with lunacy as ‘memories’ of the defeat of The Spanish Armada are dredged up to confront Spain and defend ‘our people’. If it was a lack of strong leadership that brought about the referendum in the first place, then it’s even weaker leadership that has led to this state of affairs. This government never had a plan and to make sure that lack of coherency never came under real scrutiny it has allowed, encouraged even, an attitude of angry, now war-mongering, insanity to take control. It masks their own inadequacies, but like the power of the Ark, can they control it?


You would expect the usual Brexit mooncalfs to be having their yapping say. Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph columnist and, astonishingly also a columnist for The Connexion too, an English ‘paper for expats in France, wants an immediate return to Imperial Measurements. But we got rid of imperial measurements before we even entered Europe. That’s of no importance though is it, it’s just symbolism, playing to your pitch-forked gallery. The Express newspaper, making an alarming break from pictures of Princess Diana on its front page, report on a £500 million project to restore the Great British passport to its rightful blue colour. Incidentally British blue passports already exist, we hand them out, deliciously, to asylum seekers instead. But £500 million? Really? That’s insane. That should have been on the side of a bus somewhere surely.


The whole Gibraltar issue has come about because the Prime Minister, and I’m assuming she would have had some help here, failed to specifically mention Gibraltar in her Article 50 letter thereby getting Spain’s dander up. Spain not only thinks it should have at least co-sovereignty over the territory but wants to rid it of its airport and end its 10% rate of corporate tax. It wants to starve it in other words, which is why Gibraltar itself voted 96% to remain in the EU. The EU has no option but to put the status of Gibraltar in its negotiating document. Before it was a territory disputed by two members of the EU itself, now they’re defending only the one member because Britain has bolted. Surely it won’t come to war and Michael Howard and the like, utter pipes the lot of them, should be ashamed of themselves. What’s more worrying is that the government apparently left Gibraltar out of the triggering letter from carelessness, a lack of attention to detail. Well that’s alright then. I mean it’s not as if they’re about to enter extremely complex, nuanced negotiations with 27 other bloody countries is it? Slapdashery at this early stage spells trouble, big trouble, no wonder they’re asking wanton softheads to make a bit of war noise. I just asked my son if he had homework to do, ‘after Tom and Jerry’ was his reply. He’s 16. I suspect he has a bright future in politics or the civil service.


Actually I hope he has. There’s an ennui brought on by the world itself. He’s aware of what’s going on, how his future is being gambled away by thin-crust fanatics and so an attitude of futility takes root. I was in Leeds this week and took an early train down to London on the Friday morning. There were a lot of children on the platform; an English-German school exchange and they were bidding very tearful farewells to each other. I’ll admit I got caught up in all that. I am seeing so much nastiness and name-calling, xenophobia and pure one-eyed delirium over something, that by now, shouldn’t even be a sodding issue. That’s the future there, that’s what Europe should be about, not threats and petty arguments over fruits and measurements, but friendship and getting on. I remember the weekend of the Nice atrocity. I was packing the car for the return to France. Some young kids walked past and noticed the French registration plate.


‘Foreign car mate?’ I was expecting the worst, partly it’s my default reaction, partly a sign of the times.

‘Yes.’ I said, turning round to face them. Three boys, about 12 years old. ‘French.’ I added coldly.

There was a pause.

‘Sorry about what happened the other day mate.’ Said one of them, and we chatted a bit about why I had so many packets of crisps in my boot.


There’s a feeling that both sides of the EU fallout need to get a grip, literally put a lid on it, sit down properly, stop conducting these things in public and just get on with it. I see that many people are suggesting that both sides should just grow up a bit, stop behaving like children. Behaving like children? I rather wish they were.

Thanks for reading and sharing. Hopefully this will form part of my third book and be out later this year. The more sharing the more that is likely to happen, and moves are a foot…

My other books are available on Amazon, or at all good bookshops


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  • Ray Girling says:

    “If it was a lack of strong leadership that brought about the referendum in the first place, then it’s even weaker leadership that has led to this state of affairs.” There it is – in a nutshell – well done, Ian!

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