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Is there really a way out of this Brexit nightmare?

Brexit. What started off as ‘The Comedy of Errors’ has become more like ‘The Phantom Menace’ – utterly bizarre characters and that kind of incomprehensible story-line that leaves us all wanting to get out of the cinema.

A year of false horizons. Theresa May emerged from the bunker where she’s presumably spent the last year or so rocking back and forth muttering about ‘meaningful vote this’ and meaningful vote that’ to announce on the 20th of March that a failure to deliver Brexit was the fault of MP’s, in a startling break with protocol. The fact that her withdrawal agreement, rejected twice by MP’s, is still on the table, is the only further evidence one needs to be convinced that she’s completely lost the plot.

Sadly, however, it’s hard to see how any one else could do any better. We could perhaps revert to 1832 and a trade deal with Mesopotamia under Mr. Rees–Mogg. Or we could have a steady, reliable leader – spreadsheet Phil, perhaps. But we know how ‘strong and stable’ ends. And, much as I hate to agree with Piers Morgan – would another ‘remainer’ in Downing Street be much use in delivering something they don’t believe in?

So, how about we have three options on the ballot paper? This deal, no deal, and remain, perhaps. But that would completely split the Leave vote, and, again, would be unfair

It’s at this point that you may expect me to call for an immediate election and the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn. But, (and it breaks my heart to say it) my confidence in his leadership has plummeted. As the Conservative party, and the country, falls to pieces, the only opposition party capable of being elected to government still trails in opinion polls. The not – quite – defeat of the Conservative’s in 2017’s general election was treated as a victory for Labour. It wasn’t. Faced by the growing disarray in Conservative ranks, and the havoc wreaked by seven years of austerity, Labour should have achieved a landslide victory.

What of the others? Does anybody know where Vince Cable of the Lib Dems is? Does anyone care? The Green Party is, as ever, cute, cuddly, talking about the most important issue of our times (climate change) and, sadly, never going to win an election. And Nigel Farage is a wanker.

So, this is where a so – called ‘peoples vote’ comes in. Advocated by figures such as Tony Blair and Nicola Sturgeon, this would see second referendum, asking…?

Yes, what, exactly? A choice between Theresa May’s deal (which is, by the way, merely a withdrawal agreement, and does not set out Britain’s future relationship with Europe) and remain? This would be completely unfair. Theresa May’s deal is not the kind of hard Brexit that many people voted for, the Brexit that David Cameron himself (‘we will leave the single market’) etc. defined during the referendum. So, how about we have three options on the ballot paper? This deal, no deal, and remain, perhaps. But that would completely split the Leave vote, and, again, would be unfair.

Like everyone else, I can’t see a credible way out of this nightmare – at least, a way out that will not cause economic disaster or immense social upheaval

Even if a free, fair, and representative question could be hammered out of the current wreck, it would be seen as a betrayal of democracy. You can elaborate on complex political theory and statistics all you like. 52% of the population voted to Leave, and many of them will see this as incredibly patronising at best, and deeply undemocratic at worse. The tensions this could cause between sections of society could be catastrophic, precipitating the kind of far-right rise seen in countries like Poland, Hungary, and France, and creating social divisions that could last for a generation.

Wrapping this up, I was re-reading the above and have realised that it’s completely, utterly, useless. Like everyone else, I can’t see a credible way out of this nightmare – at least, a way out that will not cause economic disaster or immense social upheaval. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to accept the negotiated withdrawal. Deliver on the referendum result. Prevent the danger of a no deal exit. Put this whole thing behind us and focus on the serious domestic issues that are destroying the lives of ordinary people up and down this country.

Or else, in a more succinct, and frankly more satisfying conclusion, one can end with the words of Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan. ‘I’m starting to get this feeling that I’m totally, totally, fucked…’

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