All the world wondered

With their take-over of the British government, Vote Leave’s subversion of our democracy is so complete, the country’s divisions so wide, the future of families and businesses so bleak, that no joke about it seems far-fetched enough to be funny any more.
Brexit has plunged us into wartime black humour conditions. Not altogether healthy: we laugh at truths we want to minimize.
This, for instance, sounds more like a plausible outcome of the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s, tenure than a laughing matter:
Screenshot_2019-07-25 Richard Coles on Twitter I suppose one way round the Brexit problem would be for Priti Patel to sell [...]
Priti Patel, sacked as a government minister by the previous Prime Minister for pursuing her own secret foreign policy and lying about it, is typical of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet of Rogues. The stench of their lies and amorality is polluting the air of an already over-heated country.
It is being said across the world that this is Great Britain’s nadir. The election of the classically educated dreamer of Ancient Roman emperors and do or die global swanking, the narcissistic liar and charlatan Boris Johnson (“It’ll take more than shouting some pig Latin and waving around a kipper” to run the country tweeted Larry the Cat) as Prime Minister, by 0.13% of the country, is the latest sign of our democratic dysfunction.
Nero_Glyptothek_Munich_321
Head of Nero (popularly regarded as one of the worst Roman Emperors) Part of a statue, after 64BC. Glyptothek, Munich. Image: Wikipedia
This, it is being said, “is how Britain ends”. (James Butler, The New York Times, 22 July, 2019)
The Tory Party members who voted for him “were obviously dominated by people who like Boris Johnson, do not distinguish between fact and fiction”. (Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC, 23 July 2019)
The organization Vote Leave, to which the majority of Johnson and his appointees belonged, has been found guilty of breaking electoral law. As they are now the rulers of Britain, it follows that Britain is no longer governed by the rule of law.
Accountability, keystone of Democracy, is now eliminated from the UK government. Vote Leave’s reign of liars, racists & careerists, enabled by most of the news media, most notably by the BBC, lacks the most basic justification for power.
Many of us feel ashamed to be English. Brexit is an English far-right project, either dragging Wales, Scotland and Ireland down with it, or threatening the Union itself.
We must resist it.  We, “lions led by donkeys”, have been betrayed by the privileged political classes before. We have defeated fascism abroad. Now, we must defeat it inside our own borders. Our island has gone mad, and we must heal it.
We need your support, wherever you are.
When men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over,
and the tale hath had its effect….like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead. Jonathan Swift
LightBrigadebyChristopherClark
Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   ….
All the world wondered.
From Alfred Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade, which, before Brexit, was England’s iconic worst self-inflicted disaster.

Friendly intervention (2)

“But for what purpose was the earth formed?” asked Candide. “To drive us mad,” replied Martin.
Voltaire, Candide

The great English immigration question: Why was Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, sent to England?
“Twill, a not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he”. Shakespeare, Hamlet

As a nation, once praised by the rest of the world for its common sense, marches to the sound of Trumpery ever nearer towards the cliff edge of “Global Britain”, we need to listen to the advice of friends, sincerely alarmed for our well-being. Nobody wants to see an old friend behaving irrationally, suffering delusions, swallowing a diet of deep fried lies and chlorinated chicken, deliberately detaching themselves from reality.

Delacroix Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard 1839
Quintessential pan-European heroes of English literature, visualized by a Frenchman, taking a look at 21st Century Brexit, the death of the UK as they and we know it.

Friends all over the world, not just EU Members, have warned us against Brexit for 3 years. Mark Rutte, the conservative-liberal Prime Minister of the Netherlands, candidly told us that Brexit would diminish the UK and that our own next Prime Minister is disregarding facts about trade, treaties and constitutions, all the stuff we thought politicians needed to know about. Johnson is a Post-Truth leader. He knows facts don’t matter to his supporters.

“Is politics nothing other than the art of deliberately lying?” Voltaire

Lying was not invented by Trump or Johnson. They’ve just dumbed it down for modern consumption, and it’s working, just like extra sugar, fat and salt have worked.

But the thing about these demagogues, these narcissists spouting racism and sexism with impunity on either side of the Atlantic, these satanic tempters of human vice disguised as wobbly blonde clowns, the thing that lets them get away with betraying the national interest while promoting their own, is that they are rich, very, very rich. They can afford to tell lies because they, unlike the majority of us, can afford the consequences.

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” Voltaire

New tariffs, higher basic food and drink prices, job redundancies, increased travel tax, the severance of rights to work and love abroad, the erosion of workers rights and environmental and food standards, the cancelled scientific and cultural projects, the loss of opportunity for equality and liberty, the loss of all the things that make the human condition bearable, which was once collectively called civilization, don’t matter to the Brexit ringleaders because they can buy the food and holiday and lover and power they want.

You vote for a madman, you get a mad country.

Or, as a European friend to humanity warned in a more elegant turn of phrase, long, long ago:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

Will anything spewed on to my obscure web page change a mind? Of course not. I am not an Influencer. I am one of a million Cassandras, shrieking on our self-assembled walls.

I defer to Remainer Now, the community for people with the courage to change their minds, heroes of the corrupt 2016 Referendum, along with Led by Donkeys, who have given the ineffectually led Remain cause the inspirational marketing that it needed from the beginning.

Led by Donkeys projection on the White Cliff of Dover, appealing to our historic friends in Europe for help in our time of madness, 2019

The right to change our minds is at the heart of democracy. That is why, after a civil war and constitutional revolution or two, we have fixed term parliaments. The idea was to save us from tyranny. Brexit is delivering us to a specifically modern tyranny, designed by oligarchs to be delivered by the people against the people. There are risks to another referendum (the third in UK on EU membership, not the second) but it would be entirely democratic in principle.

 “The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.”
Voltaire
The great advantage that Leavers have over Remainers is optimism:
“Optimism,” said Cacambo, “What is that?”
“Alas!” replied Candide, “It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”
Voltaire, Candide
If you are neither inveterate Leaver nor Remainer, if you are the Great British Fence Sitter, if you are Micawber or Waverer, or Neutralist or Opportunist, if you think not taking sides in the moment before an execution is morally superior, if you think there is nothing better you could do, then be quizzed by our friend Voltaire:

“I should like to know which is worse: to be ravished a hundred times by pirates, and have a buttock cut off…and be flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fe, and be dissected, and have to row in a galley – in short, to undergo all the miseries we have each of us suffered – or simply to sit here and do nothing?’

 

“That is a hard question,’ said Candide.”
Voltaire, Candide
Nobody reads for long anymore. I don’t. Farage was right not to bother with a manifesto. Nobody reads a manifesto, nowadays. Ignorance is power.
We read slogans that would fit on a T-shirt.

“If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”
Voltaire, Candide
Stop Brexit. Save Britain. Revoke Article 50. Reform. Reunite.

Living in England, 2019

“Many of us…have a feeling that we are living in a country where fanatics, hooligans and eccentrics have got the upper hand.”
Horace Rumbold, British Ambassador to Berlin, 1933

“My God. History will condemn this period. It will condemn those who’ve sat back and kept their view to themselves, who haven’t stood up and tried to stop all this nonsense.”
Anna Soubry MP, 2017

Muse_reading a scroll Louvre_CA2220
Clio, Muse of History reading a scroll
Attic red-figure lekythos, ca. 435-425 BC. From Boeotia. Louvre. Image: Wikipedia

“I don’t want to be known as the last prime minister of the United Kingdom”
attributed to Theresa May, Prime Minister, 2019

“When I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais engraved on my heart”.
Mary I, 1558, referring to the humiliating incompetence of losing England’s last stronghold in continental Europe

Cassandra lamenting
Jan Swart van Groningen, Woman Lamenting by a Burning City 1550-55
Pen in black, brush in brown,
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Image: WGA

Tyranny

via The Misgovernment of Britain

“So Theresa May will not promise to accept the will of our democratically elected Parliament when we vote on Brexit options – but she will carry out the result of an advisory referendum, won through cheating and lies, regardless of the cost to the country.” David Lammy, 25 March, 2019

Lorenzettiambrogio Effects of badgovernentLorenzetti THE EFFECTS OF BAD GOVERNMENT 1337 -39,
Sala della Pace (Hall of Peace) Siena. Image: WGA

“May is making a very straightforward argument that the will of the executive is more important that the will of parliament. I had always thought that Oliver Cromwell had settled that argument with Charles I in a fairly conclusive manner.” Craig Murray, 25 March, 2019

triumphofpovertyLucas Vorsterman TRIUMPH OF POVERTY c. 1624 -30 Pen in brown, with gray and brown wash, black and red chalks, and white highlights, British Museum, London.
Image source: WGA

History lesson


Protesters on the march of 23 March 2019, calling for the British Government to stop our withdrawal from The European Union.

REVOKE ARTICLE 50

The ultimate measure of a hero

via The ultimate measure of a hero

Stephen Goodall is still fighting for Britain, along with three younger generations of his family who were on the march of 23 March 2019 calling for our country to remain in Europe.

Other heroes of this national crisis are the people with the courage to have openly changed their minds: Remainer Now

Spring in Park Lane

A million people marched peacefully to show the world that Britain is better than Brexit

“If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”

PETITION TO REVOKE ARTICLE 5O AND REMAIN IN EU HAS OVER 5 MILLION SIGNATURES

Kicking the can down the road

Let the people take back control of our impoverished, confused country while a self-serving Government procrastinates to avoid democratic defeat.

“If the Prime Minister can change her mind, from day to day, why can’t the people be allowed to change theirs, 30 months after the referendum

Peter Ricketts

time overcome by truth

Pietro Liberi Time Being Overcome by Truth c. 1665 Image: WGA

Two-party system is not democracy…

…but the British public service broadcaster perpetuates the lie, against the national interest.

The proposed debate between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition about the Brexit Deal is not about a general election to a fixed-term Parliament; it is about the social, cultural, economic and constitutional future of our country for countless generations to come.

Democracy does not serve the national interest without a well-informed public.

Tom Baldwin presents the heart of the matter to the BBC:

 

The pipe dream that stole 66 million futures

“Brexit is an unachievable pipe-dream that will rob us of our future.”

“Every possible form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer, weaker and more isolated in the world.”

Rescind Article 50 and concentrate instead on all the important things you highlight in your letter: the NHS, giving children the right start in life, building the homes that people need, tackling burning injustices, and building a forward-looking country that works for everyone.”

“Britain used to have a reputation as an open, friendly, tolerant society. No longer. [Now it is] a narrow-minded, petty regime that is already sending valuable workers fleeing for friendlier climes.”

Edwin Hayward, 25 November, 2018

The New Cosette © MHP 2018

Extracts from Edwin Hayward’s Letter to the Prime Minister  25 November, 2018

At best, the advisory referendum result imposed a duty to try and make Brexit work. …Your Government has spent £4.2 billion on Brexit planning and preparations, money that could have gone to a desperate NHS, to failing schools, to an over-stretched police force.

Instead, you opted to spend it in pursuit of Brexit. Thousands of civil servants have worked on the problem full-time, and an entire new ministry, DExEU, has been devoted to nothing else. (DExEU alone has consumed over £100 million in salaries to date).

Having expended all that money, all that effort, it is now overwhelmingly clear that every possible form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer, weaker and more isolated in the world, at a time when we are beset with dangers on every side. From Russia’s meddling in the democratic process to China flexing its economic muscles, from Donald Trump’s disdain for NATO and the UN to the rise of hard-right governments across the world, this is the worst possible time to retreat behind closed borders. Instead, we should be reaching out to our neighbours – our friends – and clubbing together with them to fend off these and other challenges.

The deal on the table cannot be in the national interest. It locks us into the EU’s structures without giving us any say as to how the EU is run….For so long as the transition period continues, the worst Brexit consequences will be held at bay. But we will be hamstrung in our ability to sign new deals, and we will be forced to stay in lock-step with every rule change introduced by the EU, regardless of whether it advantages or hurts UK interests. We can cut the transition cord, sure, but then we’re immediately back to the no deal scenario which your own Government figures estimate will gouge 8.8% off GDP.

The EU made a strong, generous offer on free movement. You chose to rebuff it, and perpetuate instead a new, more virulent form of the aggressive “hostile environment” you instigated as Home Secretary….

Furthermore, your letter fails to address reciprocity. If we are going to deliberately make life tough for the three million EU citizens who make the UK their home, then the EU27 will logically do the same for the over one million UK citizens who have chosen a life in EU27 countries.

….the full registration process will potentially leave tens of thousands of people at risk of the kind of errors that have so grievously afflicted the Windrush generation.

Britain used to have a reputation as an open, friendly, tolerant society. No longer. That is entirely on you. You chose to rebuff the EU’s overture, and instead pursue a narrow-minded, petty regime that is already sending valuable workers fleeing for friendlier climes.

In your letter, you refer to spending an extra £394 million a week on the NHS after Brexit. But that money has nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit. It is going to come from extra Government borrowing, and from better than expected tax receipts. Indeed, the best estimates to date suggest that the economy is already £500 million a week worse off because of Brexit than if the result of the referendum had been to stay. Conflating the NHS money and Brexit in the same letter must therefore be interpreted as a wilful deceit, an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of a UK population you see as gullible enough to swallow the lie. We deserve better.

Jobs are moving, investment is drying up, firms are moving assets to the EU27 or redomiciling. The key passporting system that the financial sector relies on to sell its services across the EU has been abandoned somewhere along the Brexit negotiations in favour of a much weaker equivalence regime.

….The financial services sector employs 3.5% of people, so the job losses may be consequential, but it also contributes a vital 11% of all taxes to Government coffers. The loss of even a slice of that tax revenue will leave a gaping hole come Budget time.

the narrow majority (of voters – not of the entire UK) that came out in favour of Leave during the referendum no longer exists today.

…..The EU is close as well as rich. Only 0.5% of our trade is done by air, the rest goes by sea, so it is impossible to replace trade with our near neighbours with trade with far-flung nations.

You talk of Brexit being settled. That is the biggest deceit of all. Brexit Day is Day Zero of Brexit. It marks the transition between the phoney war of the exit negotiations and the hot war of trade deals and treaties. We are out of all the EU treaties and agreements on Brexit Day, but the impact of leaving them will be cushioned by the transition mechanism. But just because we don’t experience the result of something doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

Through our EU membership, we enjoy free trade deals with countries covering 60% of all our trade. All those trade deals will need to be replaced just to achieve the status quo we currently enjoy, even before we can start to see any benefits from Brexit. Indeed, Jacob Rees-Mogg believes that it may take half a century for the economic benefits of Brexit to present themselves. …We have at least 78 trade deals to replace (the EU signs new ones every few months, so we are chasing a moving target). On average, countries such as the US, India and China take between 3-5 years to agree one new trade deal. We simply do not have the capacity to negotiate dozens effectively in parallel, so we are going to have to pick and choose and prioritise. It is self-evident that this work will not be complete by the end of transition

…. Instead of sticking to a course that will see our economy founder on the Brexit rocks…. rescind Article 50 and concentrate instead on all the important things you highlight in your letter: the NHS, giving children the right start in life, building the homes that people need, tackling burning injustices, and building a forward-looking country that works for everyone.

None of those things are possible if you persist with Brexit.

….instead consider the true best interests of your constituents and of the UK as a whole.

Hold up the prism of merit to Brexit and see it for what it is: an unachievable pipe-dream that will rob us of our future.

Please make the right choice. Campaign with your heart and soul for a better future for our country, not one dictated by a vote that could never be realised in practice.

Most respectfully,

Edwin Hayward

Link to Full text of Edwin Hayward’s Letter to the Prime Minister

Woman lamenting outside a burning city 1550-55
Jan Swart van Groningen
Pen in black, brush in brown, 360 x 283 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam