Welcome to Brexitland, where everyone is either an ‘enemy of the people’ or an idiotic economic self-harmer. Where the Tories have become UKIP, Labour have become the SWP, and the Lib Dems claim to represent the 48% despite polling below ten. Where reasoned debate has been replaced with empty tautologies, migrants have become bargaining chips, and our Union is hanging by a thread.
On Wednesday, Theresa May will trigger Article 50 by flying a Spitfire to Brussels and personally delivering a letter, written in Winston Churchill’s blood, to Jean-Claude Junker, whilst bellowing out ‘God Save the Queen’. Liam Fox is organising a celebratory reading of Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’ to coincide with the glorious event. Meanwhile Gary Lineker, Lilly Allen, and Ken Clarke will hold a pro-EU rally in Central London, handing out free quinoa to ‘yummy mummies’ and their well-groomed partners as Eddie Izzard performs a poem about the falling pound.
Negotiations will begin in May with Donald Tusk, dressed as Emperor Palpatine, demanding Britain pay a €100 trillion divorce bill, at which the UK’s negotiators (whoever the hell they are!) will stick their fingers in their ears and loudly whistle ‘Jerusalem’. A brief period of more civil negotiations will come to a swift end after David Davis, in Brussels to check the progress of talks, vehemently insists on a pint with his dinner rather than the European standard 500ml.
As news of the failing negotiations reaches Britain, homewrecker Nicola Sturgeon will call a second Scottish independence vote. Westminster will refuse to grant the referendum but the SNP will plough ahead, winning a non-binding vote. Donald Trump will cause a diplomatic crisis by accidently recognising the new independent state in a tweet. Buoyed by Sturgeon’s success, Leanne Wood will demand a referendum on Welsh independence, to which the nation will respond ‘who are you?’.
After six months of fraught negotiations, the UK will crash out of the EU on WTO terms meaning 10% tariffs on imported cars, 40% tariffs on meat, and a 20p charge on French words like ‘en suite’ and ‘bourgeois’. UKIP, now led by Katie Hopkins, will lead calls for the Channel Tunnel to be bricked up and the immediate deportation of anyone whose name ‘sounds foreign’. PM May will be forced to give in to these demands to stave off a UKIP challenge at the 2020 election, leading John le Carré and Cara Delevingne to set up a short-lived government-in-exile.
Britain then experiences a catastrophic ‘brain drain’ leaving Wetherspoon’s pubs and whatever Duncan Bannatyne actually does to support the nation’s economy. Newly appointed Chancellor Boris Johnson hails the collapse of Sterling as a blessing for exporters without realising no one else likes Marmite or Richmond sausages. As the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ flocks out of London to Canada or Scandinavia, ‘patriotic’ Britons return, demolishing the symbols of their former oppressors like independent cafés and the entirety of Shoreditch.
With liberal luvvies marginalised and the borders secure, Britain can be Britain once again; like it was in the 50s. Poor and racist. People will be able to fly the cross of St George without being silently judged and lefty ideals like gender equality or common decency will no longer stop people ‘saying what they think’.
Of course, this vision of Brexit is absurd. Mutual interests should lead to a reasonable economic settlement and vocal public opposition should limit the social consequences; not to mention, most Leave voters aren’t racist bigots. However, the scenario above is no more unlikely than the free trading utopia espoused by the Three Brexiteers; Johnson, Fox, and Davis. The collapse of the political centre-ground in recent years is not confined to left/right issues, it has permeated all political discourse, spelling the end of debate and compromise. The beginning of the Brexit process should be an opportunity for a national conversation about what kind of country we want to be. Instead, it’s destined to be a shouting match that only one side can win.