Zombies and Brexit

30th April 2019

Once upon a time I had an idea for a scenario for a story about the Undead.

The scenario addressed two questions: where would the Undead get their energy from, and how would they expend that (no doubt) scarce energy.

I posited that undead humans would be like fungi, and get their energy somehow from being deposited in decaying matter.

I then dismissed the idea that that they would ever have enough energy to be a biped, let alone lift their arms in front of them.

Instead, they would jolt and writhe around in these pools of excrement and other compost, like so many overgrown maggots in a tray.

And as fungi need no light, all this could happen in pitch blackness.

Masses of unthinking, aimless people convulsing around in shit and in darkness.

But not knowing what to do with this (admittedly) dramatic image, I left the story unfinished for another day.


The image came back to me today when thinking of Brexit.

Somebody on Twitter said the UK had a Zombie government.

But it is not only a Zombie government.

Brexit policy is a Zombie policy.

Furthermore, by reason of the lack of a government majority and the lack of time to do anything other than Brexit, we also have Zombie policy everywhere.

And all this in the framework of Zombie politics, with the two main parties drained of political vitality, going through what motions their lack of energy can muster.

Our whole polity thrashing around, with the slightest approximation to a polity with any vitality.

And like me, with my unfinished short story, nobody knows quite what to do with this extraordinary situation.


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19 thoughts on “Zombies and Brexit”

  1. I think the traditional way of getting rid of a zombie is to destroy its brain, which would seem to be a problem in this case.

  2. Very good analogy for the current situation. No one knows how to solve this conundrum. They all talk about solutions that will not work, or make no sense. They cannot face the obvious conclusion that BREXIT is un-deliverable within any sensible outcome.

    1. The problem is that there isn’t a viable Remain policy either.

      Lets just say A50 is revoked. You’ve just told the biggest vote ever in the UK that their vote doesn’t count and there is no possibility of leaving the EU.

      Also, the EU aren’t going to suddenly start listening to the UK. We will be permanently in the naughty corner, held up as an example of how anyone expressing a desire to leave will be punished for ever.

      In that scenario, the fundamental question facing the UK electorate changes from one of economic/social policy ie high/low tax, big/small state, wealth creation vs redistribution, to one of our relationship to the state that actually rules us and makes our laws, ie the EU. So we become one of those nations like NI or Scotland which votes on constitutional not economic grounds. The Tory party effectively dies to become reestablished as a National Party. Logically, Labour becomes a centrist pro-EU social democratic party. There is, however, a small hitch with that particular outcome – the labour Party members and Jeremy Corbyn.

  3. Yuck – Brexity maggots. Maybe their development has been halted by the Brexit virus. Could Remainers discover some kind of antidote bomb to hurl into the writhing pools, and the maggots would metamorph into butterflies…

  4. Recognising where you are is the first step of getting out of a mess, let us hope that there is at least one leader of talent in Parliament to lead us out, perhaps to where we were just unhappy to be in the EU, being unhappy outside the EU does not seem to be a palatable compromise .

    1. I suspect our midlife crisis will end with us still living in the family home (the EU) but sleeping in the spare room, and occasionally going to singles nights pretending the imprint of a ring isn’t visible.

  5. The zombie government analogies are not new. “Britain has become a zombie state..” shouted one Guardian headline following the self inflicted loss of May’s majority in 2017. “Does Teresa May’s zombie government even want to survive” screamed the Spectator around the same time.
    Going back further to the start of 2015, many MPs called for the Fixed-term Parliaments Act “to be axed” as it would inevitably lead to “zombie Parliaments”. Alan Duncan correctly predicted that “in order to establish workable rules for the future we need to repeal this Act. It could lead to constitutional gridlock, unpopularity and the formation of Governments that nobody wants.”

  6. This whole sorry tale has made it clear that the UK “body politic” is not fit for purpose. Brexit is a symptom, not a cause, of many issues: lack of thought; inability to plan; avoidance of accountability; tribalism and refusal to communicate in a rational manner outside (and inside?) that tribe… The list goes on ;-(

    What happens next? Who knows? But unless some meaningful communication occurs across the tribal boundaries, it’s hard to see any positive outcomes for anyone except the nihilists.

    1. “This whole sorry tale has made it clear that the UK “body politic” is not fit for purpose. Brexit is a symptom, not a cause, of many issues:”

      Agreed. I’ve been writing pretty much exactly this for a while, but it could hardly be clearer now if it were written in fire across the heavens.

      But what will it actually take to initiate any meaningful change? My fear (and, sadly, my guess of the most likely outcome) is that we will be so overwhelmed and lost in the smoke of the vital minutiae of Brexit fallout for the next decade or so that it will be difficult or impossible to apply any leverage to problem of this magnitude, and it will be relatively easy for those best served by the status quo to avoid a reckoning.

      Worse still, in any now-conceivable outcome there will be more than abundant blame to be assigned and deflected: it is the most toxic and destructive kind of politics which thrives in such an environment and, indeed, its roots are already well established. England at least seems set to be transfixed by a throng of pointing fingers but largely unable to even conceive of, let alone see, the moon.

  7. Good analogy, but I prefer: One flew over the cuckoos nest, as my reference point. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and the warders are all locked up and powerless to do anything to prevent them from doing what they will. Of course, because they are lunatics, they don’t actually do anything, they just keep doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting to get a different result. By the way, that was Einstein’s definition of insanity, so I’m keeping pretty good company here!

    The stupidest bit of the whole story is that we the sane electorate put them there, did I say ‘sane’ electorate – thinking about that, I must have meant something else. To paraphrase the late great Greg Lake’s Christmas song; The polity we get, we deserve.

  8. I was all for Brexit. Then May did that video on her sofa. & I know not what to think anymore. Because I am sort of sitting waiting for an outcome. For something to happen next. But it did trigger a train of thought and now when I look at all Brexit tweets it does seem like the undead zombie apocalypse and I can fully imagine your thinking.

    & of course, Climate change, Extinction Rebellion.
    All so complicated with “that’s true” & “it’s lies

    Thanks for these awesome blog emails.


    Clare Haslett.

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