Never before has so much deception unraveled so quickly and with so little shame.
Within a few hours of the EU referendum, the major planks of the Leave campaign had evaporated. We learned that the additional £350,000,000 that could be spent on the NHS every week if we only left the EU, never existed. After all the fear mongering and denigration of immigrants, we learned that withdrawal from the EU would not reduce immigration.
And we are currently learning the hard way that Leaving is economically disastrous: Although today’s downgrade in the UK’s credit rating may sound like a distant and hardly-relevant rumbling, we may care that we will now receive less of an annuity for our retirement.
Perhaps that explains why the Leave Campaign diligently wiped its webpage of any content, leaving behind the message “thank you” but no record of their promises. (Don’t worry, it’s been archived. After all, the Leave campaign was the evil twin of climate denial, and so the reality-based community knows how to prevent things going down the memory hole.)
We now get to watch in fascination (and terror?) how another “hockey-stick” graph is unfolding in front of our very eyes:
Even arctic ice doesn’t melt that fast.
While the “Project Fear” of the Remain campaign may now turn out to have been a “Project Understatement”, we should briefly summarize the activities of the various main actors in this unfolding “Project Farce”:
- The soon-to-be-no-more Prime Minister has stopped tweeting about huggable heroes and addressed Parliament today and said something that contained a lot of words. If you want to know what he really said, you need to read this.
- The still-completely-in-charge Chancellor assured everyone this morning that Great Britain is Great again and that we should keep calm and carry on with being unemployed or deprived (but quietly). A few hours later, and innumerable Footsie and Dow points further south, the UK’s credit rating was downgraded. (After the markets in London closed, so as not to upset anyone).
- Leave operative Michael Gove likened the experts, who predicted the current economic fallout, to Nazis before the referendum. He has not been heard from since Friday morning. (Please report any sightings if he has left the bunker for air or check his investments).
- The leader of the Leave campaign, who may yet become our next Prime Minister, played cricket all weekend before he reassuringly reappeared in the Telegraph this morning, pronouncing the economy to be in good health and guaranteeing us access to the EU’s free market without any bothersome human rights legislation. He gets paid £5,000 for each of those columns, so he is bound to be back next week.
A Shakespearean tragedy in a world of post-fact politics.
Shakespeare’s tragedies, like their Greek counterparts, included evil villains who cunningly conspired to bring down kings and empires.
The villains of the Brexit tragedy are not evil and cunning.
Their banal evil arises from an infantile recklessness that gave them license to turn the future of this country, Europe, and the world economy into a Riot Club frat-boy tussle. Unchecked by the jingoist tabloids, their abject recklessness turned a decision of grave consequence into a platform for dull patriotic cheer-leading.
Who are the adults in this post-Shakespearean farce?
- President Obama (are you missing him already?) sent his Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Europe to exercise some adult supervision. Perhaps pointedly, Kerry stopped in Europe before visiting London, the home of special relationships.
- Angela Merkel directly addressed the 48% of Britons who wanted to avoid this mess, and has generally struck a balance between giving the UK time to re-constitute itself and insisting on speedy action to commence divorce proceedings for the sake of the world economy.
- Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, continued to calmly clarify that the Riot Club frat boys did not have license to tear down Scotland as well.
- The columnists and the millions who will not abandon Europe to the deceptions of demagogues.
How will this “Project Farce” play out in the end?
No one knows, but there is one ghoul that is emerging from the fog. Taking leadership of the country now, and being the one who pushes the irreversible button of Article 50 to commence separation from the EU, must surely be the most poisoned chalice of recent history.