I’ll start with a confession. I am a big fan of British state occasions – openings of parliament, royal weddings, state funerals and sundry solemn occasions. I love them. The British Establishment does them incredibly well, from the hushed tones of the reverential commentators to the throngs lining London’s beautiful streets, to the Red Arrow flypasts and general pomp and circumstance.
The only thing that spoils it for me is remembering I am actually paying for this nonsense with my taxes. If only we were independent I could settle down with a cup of a tea and a biscuit in front of the telly and enjoy the show without that sense of irritation.
In the same way, I could appreciate the Brexit debacle so much more if it wasn’t so damn close to home. It’s beyond satire only because it is so ridiculously, hilariously awful that you simply couldn’t exaggerate it any further. It is genuinely funny. If only it wasn’t real.
We have had a quality couple of days for those who enjoy a bit of political farce.
First there was Theresa May losing the Meaningful Vote on her Withdrawal Agreement by a stonking 230 votes, far more than she would have lost by if she had just held the vote when originally intended rather than delaying it to avoid a humiliating defeat.
Secondly the drama around Corbyn’s Motion of No Confidence as the Tories & their DUP enablers inevitably rallied round to save the leader they voted against day before (and against whom many of them had voted only weeks ago). They are, of course, determined that if anyone is going to finish May off it will be them.
So what happens now? Well, apparently Theresa May is going to talk to everyone and try to find common ground. In practice this means she will continue to totter about proclaiming, with that increasingly pained smile, that each successive disaster is actually an opportunity for the British people to come together and move beyond division to a brighter future.
The last I looked Corbyn still appeared keen to pursue the general election option though he refuses to say whether Labour would campaign for or against Brexit. (This is, I suspect, because their preference is to campaign both for and against Brexit simultaneously and hope that no-one notices.) The prospect of an election seems less and less likely, however.
Meanwhile both leaders merrily continue to claim they can renegotiate the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement despite the fact that the EU has consistently and repeatedly said that they can’t. (The EU is playing the somewhat dazed straight man in this zany sitcom, the Rod Hull to Westminster’s Emu, the Abbot to England’s Costello).
MPs remain hopelessly divided with no clear majority for, well, anything. But – as incapable as they are of finding a workable solution to this mess – many MPs still seem determined not to pass the decision on to anyone else, particularly not to the British people. A second referendum would, apparently, be undemocratic.
So we appear to have a deadlock, with no majority for May’s deal or for a fresh election or for a second vote. It would be tempting just to say sod it, lock the doors and leave them to it except that the risk of a No Deal situation draws closer every day.
It would be extremely rash to try and predict what will happen next. But I will predict that somehow an alternative to No Deal will be found. I have no idea how, It would, perhaps, be the perfect season finale to this ridiculous series of Brexit if May’s Withdrawal Agreement actually ends up getting passed by a majority of MPs who fundamentally disagree with it but can’t get their act together to come up with something better.
And I’ll make another prediction while I’m at it. There will be a referendum on Scottish independence sooner rather than later.
We have done everything we can to rescue this situation and protect Scotland’s interests, no-one can say we haven’t. I’d like to pay tribute at this juncture to our SNP MPs for enduring this in our names. How they haven’t completely lost it and run amok in the tea room is a wonder. Well done.
But we have done enough. Clearly the time is now approaching when we need to decide whether it’s time to get off this ride. I believe Scots will decide it is.