May’s winter of discontent with a pint of Brexit bitter

Towheed Feroze
Published : 17:18, Jan 16, 2019 | Updated : 17:29, Feb 06, 2019

Towheed FerozeIf one has is to make a list of abject political failures, then the Brexit vote, which summarily rejected Theresa May’s Brexit proposal, should make it among the top five. Of course, if one takes into consideration the drama, theatrics and the hysterics, then a top spot is guaranteed.

Who needs House of Cards, when you have the cracking castle of Brexit?

As a keen observer of the tumultuous Brexit phenomenon, the world has seen quite a lot: loyalty, betrayal and political savvy discarded for trenchant criticism, topped with plenty of wit.

At least when one top British parliamentarian said that not even the best wine would convince him to change his stance, the embittered had something to laugh about.

Nope, no amount of alcohol will do this time that’s for sure!

But, interestingly, the British PM is constantly harping on the people’s verdict made two years ago and stressing the need to deliver on that.

But what seemed like a rather straight forward secession in the beginning has had so many twists and turns, that at this point, maybe the people who voted do not know what they actually voted for.

A campaigner dressed as Theresa May holds a prop as part of a campaign stunt promoting a second Brexit referendum, outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, January 15, 2019. REUTERSHow important is the people’s verdict now?

While Theresa May is steadfast in her belief and, following the recent debacle in confidence vote, keeps on saying in a morose tone that the verdict made by the nation has to be upheld, the question is how important is ‘that’ verdict at this moment?

Several times, experts have said that many Britons voted at that time, not driven by rational thought but mainly by nationalism fuelled bravado.

To many, the much publicised amount of 350 million pounds given to the EU per week was the swaying factor, promoting to opt for an exit.

At that time, during the referendum, the long term ramifications of Brexit plus the possibility of protracted talks with the EU over trade and other concessions were not discussed in detail.

In the hurly burly of ‘leave excitement’, seen through fantasy infused perspective, jingoism trumped, although in the cold light of day of the current situation, much of that euphoria is faded.

The reality started to emerge soon afterwards when it emerged that Britain’s involvement with the EU was far more profound, almost indissoluble.

As Theresa May is at the centre of a tempest, the man who called the vote in the first place, David Cameron, is nowhere in the scene.

Why he called the referendum out of the blue is still puzzling. Would I be wrong to state that by calling for a plebiscite to decide if Britain should stay in or out he actually opened the Pandora’s Box?

Many still believe that if there is a second referendum now, the results would be totally different. That is because over the last two years, Brexit’s implications from all angles have been discussed, dissected and analysed to such an extent that at this moment, at least one thing is clear: divorce in this case is not as easy as people thought.

Ego preventing a second referendum?

With the Brexit theatre being played right before the whole world, sometimes, it seems that the reason why a second referendum cannot be called is simply to avoid making it clear to all that the British people got it wrong the first time.

This is the problem of those who have, for too long, portrayed themselves as impeccable examples of correct democracy with the slightest of flaws.

The Brexit quagmire has clarified one thing at least: even the British can mess up, big time!

By sticking to a result emanating mostly from impetuosity rather than well thought out understanding of the implications, May is actually refusing to take into account the countless imponderables that have been thrown at the government in the last one year.

Her party is split, there are clear signs of rebellion and rancour, and to be honest, at times, those who support her seem to be doing so just to save her from utter disgrace rather than from any conviction in her Brexit plan.

With several possibilities emerging now with one being the immediate calling of a general election, the halo over Jeremy Corbyn is getting more visible and many of his warnings made earlier appear to be prescient.

Funny, at one time, in the British parliament, faced with the sharp and suave rhetoric of the Conservative Party, Corbyn and his deeply embattled Labour Party had to struggle to survive and shine.

The table has tuned; today, it’s Corbyn whose comments appear more assertive and razor sharp with the luster gone from the other side.

Britain`s Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip leave church, near High Wycombe, Britain, January 13, 2019. REUTERSWhatever happens in the days to come, perhaps it’s time a debate is launched to find out whether the result of the exit plebiscite made two years ago has any relevance now.

Of course, this would eventually mean admitting that the first result was actually a reflection of emotion and not rational thought.

If that happens then Britain’s effort to present herself as infallible will falter.

But hey, no one’s perfect, we all make mistakes!

It’s better to discard that colonial period strategy that under no circumstances weakness or fallibility can be exposed to others. 

Democracy is an evolving process and things can go awry for any side.

To end on a lighter note, has anyone thought of launching a lager called Brexit? I am sure, in current times of turbulence, a beer called Brexit will sell well.

Just add a little more alcohol to make it extra strong! 

Towheed Feroze is a news editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.