If all this were the second Act of a Brexit play, what will happen next?

9th July 2021

Every event is an end of something and the start of something else, and every event is also between the start and end of yet another story.

So assuming what is happening all around us is the middle part of a story, what will happen next?

We have the characters: the knavish and foolish ministers and their political and media supporters.

They have ‘got Brexit done’ in the first Act of our play.

But in our second Act, we have the challenge of, well, reality.

Things are not going to plan (if it can be called a plan).

Things are not as easy as the Brexiters averred.

Brexiters undertook certain legal obligations that they now do not want, and they made promises that they would rather forget – or renege on.

So in this second Act they are confronted with the consequences of their actions and inactions, and their lies.

Will the third Act give them their just resorts?

Or will they pull off an even bigger con?

And will then they get away with it?

Nobody watching Brexit can tell you for certain.

38 thoughts on “If all this were the second Act of a Brexit play, what will happen next?”

  1. Usually a reckoning leads to enlightenment, at least for the audience. However I fear the audience in this case have moved already to the next theatre, weary at the show they paid for being overly demanding.

  2. Just “resorts??

    I’m imagining a hellish and overcrowded Bognor Regis, with awful food, terrible service, trashy facilities and crazy prices!

  3. Something makes me think, whatever happens, if anything goes wrong it will always be someone else’s fault. Nothing will ever be the Brexiters fault.

  4. “just resorts”? or perhaps “just deserts”? Or am I missing some clever word-play?

  5. The Scottish play with minor adjustments to the dramatis personae. Much madness and blood.

  6. Last night I saw “The Play That Goes Wrong” in London’s West End. A play within a play. All of the actors completely fail to deliver the play in the way it was intended. At the climax (spoiler alert) the whole set collapses around them and they are left standing, looking awkward, on a stage of dust with the ruins around them.

  7. While I’m distressed by the Brexit mess, I’m even more exercised by what I’d call the draconian and illiberal powers introduced in March 2020 via I think the Coronavirus Regulations.

    They are allegedly to combat a ‘deadly disease’, an ’emergency’. However, the government had declared it not a high-consequence infectious disease on 19.3.20. Peculiar? Yes, indeed.

    The media narrative since then has been about a ‘pandemic’. Well, isn’t it strange then that age-adjusted all-cause mortality (deaths per 100,000 people) is the same for the three year period 2018-21 as for all similar periods back to 2010. This comes from the government’s own figures. Hiding in plain sight, as it were. All that seems to have happened is that winter 2018-19 had low respiratory disease deaths and winters were higher than average.

    Being a semi-retired scientist, but very interested in other subjects like law, I’ve spent part of the past 16 months reading 1,000s if not 10,000s of medical and scientific papers and blogs by qualified people. I now think as others do that we’re the victims of fraud.

    This may sound a wild and reckless statement. But, as a precedent, there was a smaller scandal in 2009 featuring corrupt officials in WHO and elsewhere and a gross exaggeration of the dangers of H1N1/swine flu.

    A damning report was written for the Council of Europe. But little or nothing was done to get rid of the crooks. Just over 10 years later, here we are again and it appears that media censorship has increased massively.

    I hope this comment isn’t too off-topic but I’m distressed at what I think is probably the permanent loss of some/many of our civil liberties in 2020. I’ll be delighted to be wrong but even the ex-PM has noted that in some ways we’re less free in summer 2021 than we were in summer 2020.

    This subject gets emotional too for people who lost loved ones in March/April 2020, when the new virus took a particularly heavy toll. But this is also a plea to people to take a cold, hard look at the underlying data. As we know, statistics matter but sometimes they are surrounded by a lot of lies and damned lies in order to sustain a particular narrative.

    Thanks for your blog.

    1. Perhaps a reflection on what happened in the care homes – which was way off the norm – might convince you that this was not a mundial fraud

    2. I am also distressed by the erosion of civil liberties in the last 18 months, with the government frequently changing the law with almost no notice or prior review.

      But I think you’ll need to provide some evidence for your assertion that COVID is or was a fraud. For starters, the ONS says there were 76,000 excess deaths in 2020 (not counting much of the second peak from January 2021, of course). And 74,000 COVID deaths. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/deathsathomeincreasedbyathirdin2020whiledeathsinhospitalsfellexceptforcovid19/2021-05-07 Some fraud.

    3. In case you hadn’t noticed this is happening all over the world. It is a pandemic. Different governments are reacting to it with varying degrees of success but the ones trying to carry on as if this is nothing unusual are the ones with higher death rates. I’d rather we suffered a temporary loss of freedom than have catastrophic fatalities.

      Our government has been slow to curb freedoms and overzealous in attempting to restore them, resulting in more deaths and far more economic damage than was necessary. If this really is a fraud designed to restrict freedom it is indeed a very callous act to play the public in this way.

  8. The ordinary Leavers will conveniently forget how they voted. (As in no one admits to voting for Thatcher but she won three elections so someone must have done.) Johnson will swear blind that he voted Remain, and the Rees-Moggs of the world will dust off their Irish passports.

  9. Someone somewhere pulls the Russia thread so persistently, thoroughly and indefensibly that Johnson deflates with a flaccid fart like a busted spacehopper and his criminal gang are sent down for a long stretch. An Emergency Government of National Unity is led by Starmer, Davey, Lucas and either Stewart, Gauke or Grieve; PR is enacted…I can dream, can’t I?

  10. Reality bites. Bojo has been fortunate (can I really mean this?) in that the pandemic has masked the economic damage of Brexit. With his current osterich strategy, the influence of the pandemic is about to be decoupled.

    Many Brits will manage to visit the EU on holiday and will encounter at first hand the inconveniences of Brexit. Brexit may be worth it for a few very rich people and one or two true believers, but the rest will quickly discover that the prized family cow has been swapped for five beans, none of which are magic.

    In the end, Brexit must tear the Tory party asunder; it has the potential to do that to Labour, but I suspect Starmer is wily and bright enough to avoid that by attacking the substance of Brexit without attacking (initially, at any rate) the principle of it. The remainer has been the political orphan in all of this – we can’t be ignored in perpetuity since remainers and regretters outnumber leavers. Neither party can ignore the 63% (now plus) of the electorate that never endorsed Brexit in the first place.

  11. Those who said it might take 50 years to realise the full benefits of Brexit (Rees-Mogg) have their excuse pre-loaded.

  12. Try this Sunday’s Gospel reading, with Herod making a rash promise he’d rather not have kept.

  13. The question of whether they are given their just resorts rest entirely on whether we give them their just resorts.
    If we want to return to the rule of law, then we should step upon that path and use the law to return the rule.
    We know they are criminals: let us use the law to prosecute those criminals.
    I don’t know how to do it, but I know that it can be done, or if it cannot be done, then that can only be because the system is corrupt, in which case we need to demonstrate that as fact.

    There was an attempt a while back to prosecute Boris Johnson for misconduct in public office.
    It failed, but it did not fail for good reasons and the reasons that it failed do not apply to any of many counts that we could charge him with now.

    How many times has he lied?
    Is it misconduct for a Prime Minister to lie?
    Of course it is.
    Does it amount to an abuse of the public’s trust?
    I think it is definitively so: I challenge anyone to suggest a more pure example.
    The people must trust the word of the prime minister: it is inherent in the democratic principle.
    If a prime minister lies, he is simply abusing that trust.
    The only way that this is not a criminal offence is if he has a reasonable excuse or justification.
    Let us have him in court, and let him present his excuses.

  14. Think these pages today ( and very recently) elegantly describe the various actors in jilted lover play.

    The jilted lover ( aka the EU) is still coming to terms with the grief of being spurned – only yesterday one commentator mentioned ‘non acceptance’ of what’s happened.

    This is /was to be expected – yet, there comes a point ( or a new act in a play) that acceptance of the grief ( situation) has to occur else stasis exists possibly with decay.

    Act 3 ( Implementation of the NIP) is going to be fascinating. Can’t wait to see its predicated ramifications & consequences. Just hope the Theatre is able to deal with the inevitable fall-out.

    Act 4 ……..

    1. I think you’ll find it’s more a case of an erring ex-husband who is trying to wriggle his way out of the combined obligations placed upon him by a prenup and divorce settlement.

      He (the ex-husband) won’t have the law on his side, and if he deserts both his wife and the children of his marriage, he will be ostracised by all but other rapscallions, as the UK will find out in due course.

      Of course, Johnson knows all about this kind of behaviour but – hey! – the hunger for an amoral clown is currently strong in this country.

  15. I think we are a very short way into a very very long drama. There is no truth, no facts, just impressions, images, old stereotypes replayed.

    As an analogy we might look at the structure of the Japanese Noh play with its aptly named roles. These include:- The Shite – the main protagonist, the Shitetsure – the Shite’s companion, the Koken – stage hands, the Jiutai – the chorus, the Waki – the counterpart or foil of the Shite, the Kyogen – actors who fill in between the boring bits and the Hayashi – musicians and media wonks. We have them all right here.

    I would suggest Boris is well boxed in but he is an amusing fellow and might very well leap out of his box like a demon king. With a puff of evil smelling purple smoke he will announce – Super Brexit. A new kind of Brexit with new partnerships with our old friends in Poland, Romania and Turkey. Not forgetting our new new partnerships with Germany and Norway and the Philippines, India and almost everywhere else.

  16. It feels more like groundhog day as the same stupid arguments are rehashed again and again. But I don’t hold out much hope for the redemptive moment.

  17. The pretext for Brexit may collapse in the Second Act, but the real aims of Brexit have been fully realised

    The stated aims were ‘Taking back control of our borders, money and laws…’ (admittedly I am ignoring the ‘while’ clause that follows)

    Brexit has succeeded in enabling Brexit promoters’ to take back control of their Money, and it has ensured that new EU anti-money laundering Laws and regulations will never been introduced

    The pledge to take back control of our Borders has succeeded in uniting xenophobes and racists behind Brexit, ensuring that the two real aims are met

    Unfortunately the widely derided Australian Trade Deal has also been entirely successful, once you recognise that it’s real aim is to prevent GB rejoining the European Customs Union some time in the future

    As for the Third Act, I think that will not start until the next generation start trying to undo this power-shift to the supperrich

  18. Feels more like a four act play, Act One – the Referendum, Act Two – May’s Agony, Act Three – The Triumph of the Villain, and Act 4 the bloody denouement. Apparently Greenblatt’s book Tyrant, Shakespeare on Politics, was on Mrs Merkel’s summer reading list a couple of years ago. Presume she was seeking to deepen her understanding of what drives the authoritarians that the world is plagued by at the moment. As an aside Greenblatt’s “Will in the World” is the best book on Shakespeare I have read, even paid a vist ito Kenilworth Castle recently in part tribute, but you will have to read the book (Will in the World) to find out why.

    I suspect in Shakespeare, our Brexit Act 4 would end in a bloody, painful mess . The tragedy has so ended and continues to end in a long drawn out misery -strewn final scene in the US. Why should we be spared? More likely it will be the mishandling of the virus that will, eventually, bring the lying shyster down. Brexit has moved into the background, a sub-plot being mis-handled by the clown-mechanicals “Lord” Frost and the invisible Gove.

    1. But we should remember that Shakespeare (even in Lear) always ends with a character of some hope taking us forward out of the mess.

  19. The third act would start 15 years after the end of the second. Cummings is in a room with Banks, Farage, Oakeshott, Rees Mogg and a Russian funder of the Tory Party. Whilst they wait for someone, Cummings tears into all the others for (what he sees as) their failings. It becomes clear that, outside, today, a vote is going on to rejoin the EU. Cameron appears. The others turn on him for his late conversion to the anti-EU cause. But after a while it becomes clear they are waiting for another person – Johnson.

    With some blinding stage effect, Johnson appears. He gives a rousing speech, all the old tricks and lies, expounding on his plan for them to come back from this whatever, ending with him standing atop a table whilst the others fawningly look up at his godlike figure.

    A messenger appears with the close-of-voting polls, but before the messenger can speak, the curtain drops.

  20. It is not really a play, more a dated saga which has now little to offer, the hero goes on an endless voyage but does not learn, wives and girlfriends are abandoned etc, when his gods tell him he has to move on, followers are used and betrayed etc. In reality of 2022 the public is less forgiving whether the hero learns life’s lessons or not, modern communications ensures the hero’s history remains with him, the hero cannot now run away. Why stay to the end, the result is well known?

  21. Classically, it depends on whether Brexit is a comedy or a tragedy. There are self evident flaws, but it is also ridiculous.

    Less classically Brexit is an expression of absurdism… “VLADIMIR: Well? Shall we go?
    ESTRAGON: Yes, let’s go.

    They do not move.”

  22. It takes some seventy pages for the protagonist to wake up at the beginning of the first volume of the three volumes of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. We are on page five.

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