Brexit has stepped through the looking glass and assumed an air of complete unreality. These are, by some margin, the strangest political times any of us have ever lived through. On all sides the actions – or just as likely inactions – of the players both great and small have become so extreme, so brazen and so corrupt that the mind reels from it all.
Starting of course, with the referendum victory itself; a task thought almost impossible even by many firmly committed to the cause; that moment of unparalleled euphoria when the established order was toppled so magnificently, and anything seemed possible.
And then the let-down: firstly, came the spewing hatred of the ultra-Remainers who refused to accept the result, which signaled to us all just how deep the Euro-rot had spread into British society. Still, we thought, naively, the will of the people will prevail – we are a democracy after all. Still, it should prove possible to reunite British society around a new and exciting vision, as a great seafaring, trading nation free to set its course to distant horizons once again.
How wrong we were. Slowly, it dawned on us that we are not a democracy at all. What had been put in place these past few decades was essentially a pre-Enlightenment society, with an aloof oligarchical elite ruling over the peasants like factions at some medieval court, and with no intention of giving up its privileges. Betrayal followed betrayal upon betrayal as the political class closed ranks against the people, and at the centre of it all the strange, cadaverous personality of Theresa May: an emotional and moral vampire sucking life and honour out of everything; her duplicity matched only by the moral depravity of a Tory Party which inexplicably refuses to move against her.
And here we are, the collective cabinet cave-in that looms today means a deal is now upon us. Clearly Brexit is going to end in one form of disaster or another: now faced with a choice between a deal dubbed the greatest disaster in statecraft since Suez (or even 1066), a ‘No Deal’ scenario we are miserably unprepared for, or even the grotesque prospect of the risibly named ‘People’s Vote’. A week may be a long time in politics, but whatever happens now the recriminations will reverberate and ricochet for the rest of our lives.
And yet we have reached a strange nullity: it all seems so surreal, detached. The ever more lurid words and phrases that accurately convey the seriousness of it all fall to earth like damp autumn leaves. It is not, I think, mere boredom with Brexit’s technocratic aspects, but a realisation that whatever deal is now announced is, perhaps, in one sense almost immaterial – nothing can ever be the same again. Not political parties, not parliament, not anything. Something will have to give: a major rendering of British society in one form or another seems inescapable. We are, perhaps, beyond emotion, swamped by the enormity of it all.