It wasn’t happy hour in The Benjamin Huntsman. There are no happy hours in The Benjamin Huntsman –it is a Wetherspoon pub franchise and thus, no hour can ever be truly happy here. Besides, happiness does not comply with EU Directive 89/391/EEC regarding health and safety in the workplace.
And nor do I for that matter.
My associate Sheraton Hotel (name changed) and I were drinking heavily and discussing Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, or Brexity McBrexitface as it had become known colloquially. Reasonable dialogue in Wetherspoons is a highly dangerous activity and does not comply with EU Directive 2004/48/EC regarding the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Only the most serious outlaw adrenaline junkie should engage in recklessness of this magnitude. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves surrounded by an angry mob of large men.
One of them said the following words at us:
“You boys should be careful about what you say. You might find yourselves on the wrong side of history.”
It was April 12th. E Day. But The Big Brexit is yet to materialise. It seemed ironic that it was on this very day in 1606 that the Union Jack was officially adopted as a symbol of regal solidarity between England and Scotland. Unlike 1606 however, this April 12th will be forgotten in a mire of confused acrimony.
Leave does not yet mean leave it seems, and what Leave really means is still left to be seen.
But whether you voted Leave or Remain, one thing is undeniable – the Former United Kingdom (henceforth referred to as FUK) is at war now and the enemy is ourselves.
In September 2015, mere months into his second term in office, David Cameron alleged that he did not fuck a dead pig in the face at a Piers Gaveston Society dinner in 1989. This fact has never been proven, but a fact it remains and he almost certainly did it maybe. Man – meat sexual interaction does not comply with EU Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 regarding general food law.
David Cameron was a Prime Minister under fire.
His first term had been a turbulent one. Following a hung parliament in May 2010, the Conservatives formed an ideologically compromised coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The implementation of heavy handed austerity measures in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, lax border control policy, the News Of The World phone hacking scandal and questions over his credibility as a superficial elitist coke fiend all proved to be a heavy burden for our Right Honourable PC MP.
The Conservatives performed badly in the 2012 local elections and Labor were increasing their lead in the polls. Two years later, the drunken Wetherspoon Eurosceptic former fringe party and definitely not racist UKIP would secure more seats in the 2014 European Parliament elections than any other party, leaving the Tories trailing in an embarrassing third place. An ominous sign indeed.
Cameron was under siege from both the opposition and his own party, narrowly deflecting several threats to his leadership from various Tory pretenders and an open call for a vote of no confidence in 2014 from MP Andrew Brigden.
David Cameron was getting spanked like an Eton prefect in the headmaster’s office with the door locked and a tie stuffed in his mouth. He needed to take back control. He needed a plan. A grand gesture that would not only save The Party, but serve as an apparent personal metamorphosis from dave the pig fucker to David The Redeemer.
A European Referendum. It was perfect. A political hot potato since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, super-heated by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, yet the only serious opposition to Britain’s membership to the European Union was from hard-right Tories, outsider political parties like the now defunct BNP and their successors Britain First, and the die-hard nationalist patrons of Wetherspoon pubs, all of whom were pissed by midday anyway.
It was Russian roulette, but only one round. The chances of dying in one round of Russian roulette are 16.666%. Those are good odds and the spoils would be galvanized power for both Cameron himself and the Tory party, a crushing middle finger to his naysayers and a massive Jesus pose to the people of Britain. Plus, there is no sector-specific EU legislation in the field of gambling services.
And so, he loaded the gun, spun the cylinder and, in a break from the traditional rules of Russian roulette, pointed the barrel at us, instead of his own engorged, smug shyster, Etonian wank-in-a-sock head.
But it was ok, because Cameron couldn’t lose. The drooling electorate would never even realise we were in the line of fire. In fact, he was so confident that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee would later hear that he refused to allow the Civil Service to make any contingency plans for a Leave result.
The British public may be a pack of barely literate, yet strangely pompous dogs, but we would never be stupid enough to vote to leave the EU – or would we?
THE BULLINGDON BOYS
During his pig fucking days, David Cameron was a member of The Bullingdon Club. The Bullingdon is an elite, all male dining club reserved for the richest Oxford University undergraduates, whose modus operandi is the fetishistic deification and apotheosis of its members’ unearned wealth. The annals of The Bullingdon cover 200 years of debauchery. A vast anthology of champagne, sexual impropriety and destroyed restaurants; they famously include the club smashing all 468 windows of the historic Peckwater Quad at Christ Church College… twice. Because why the bloody hell not, old chap?
The Bullingdon is the highest of the low, the cream of the crap, sons of nobility and millionaire investment bankers born into privilege you and I could never even begin to understand. It’s also a degenerate inbreeding ground for Conservative MPs. Aside from David Cameron, other notable Conservative Bullingdon Boys include former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Minister for Policing Nick Hurd and former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, AKA Boris Johnson.
David was a young hipster who listened to The Smiths and Boris was a Sloane Ranger, but both were Old Etonians and they quickly became good friends. I’m using the Tory definition of the word ‘friends’, of course, by which I mean that behind the sycophantic veneer of mutual respect, they would each crawl through a canal of shit for the opportunity to fuck the others’ Grandmother if they thought it would further their respective careers.
Crawling through a canal of shit does not comply with EU Directive 91/271/EEC regarding urban waste water treatment.
Each knew it was his birthright to lead Britain and so began a rivalry that would eventually play out on a national stage and bring our country to its knees.
A DIRTY CAMPAIGN
After calling the referendum, David Cameron led the Remain campaign and endorsed the official cross-party Remain group Britain Stronger In Europe, which Labor, now led by pro-Leave Jeremy Corbyn, abstained from. Boris Johnson, being a vacuous political prostitute devoid of any real conviction or integrity, had drifted to the liberal end of Conservative policy in recent years and agreed to lead the Remain campaign alongside Cameron. In a phone call just nine minutes before Cameron was due to appear on live television to announce his campaign, Johnson informed him of his decision to defect to the Leave campaign, having seen his opportunity to take Cameron down and make his own run for Downing Street. George Osborne stepped in as Cameron’s right hand man.
The Leave campaign comprised two groups: Leave EU (founded by UKIP donors and led by Nigel Farage) and the official Leave group Vote Leave (Conservative Eurosceptics led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove).
All three groups would later be investigated and found to be in breach of electoral law by the Electoral Commission.
Over the following 12 weeks, George Osborne launched Project Fear, a misinformation campaign of apocalyptic proportions, warning of the dire economic consequences of Britain crashing out of the EU and crumbling into the sea in the event of a Leave vote. Nigel Farage toured Britain’s finest Wetherspoons in a bus with verifiable lies written on the side (“We send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead”) while distributing campaign materials strikingly reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. Boris Johnson ad-libbed his way through vague populisms (“Let’s take back control”), wistful laments for a fallen empire (“We will take back control”) and a call to arms for the common people of Britain who had been disenfranchised by the elitist Conservative government, but definitely not him (“#takecontrol”). Michael Gove, in response to pro-EU arguments from an overwhelming majority of economists, business leaders and diplomats, spewed forth the immortal line “people in this country have had enough of experts”.
Yeah, stupid experts, being all experts. Experts do not comply with EU Directive 2003/98/EC regarding the re-use of public sector information.
Meanwhile, David Cameron sat back and dismissed the Leave campaign as a bunch of idiots. With the traditionally Eurocentric Labor suddenly ambivalent and his main man Boris reneged, he was outnumbered, but unfazed. Early opinion polls and common sense all pointed to a landslide Remain victory. It was in the bag.
Then things turned nasty.
“TODAY IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CHAPTER IN OUR LIVES. MORE DIFFICULT, MORE PAINFUL, LESS JOYFUL, LESS FULL OF LOVE” – BRENDAN COX
Shortly before 1:00pm on Thursday June 16th 2016, Labor MP for Batley & Spen and Remain campaigner Jo Cox was shot three times and stabbed 15 times outside a library in Birstall by Thomas Mair, a fanatical right-wing extremist who had links with the National Front and English Defence League. According to eyewitnesses, Mair shouted “Britain first” and “This is for Britain” as he carried out the attack. Jo Cox died at the scene. Mair was arrested shortly after.
In court, when asked to confirm his name, Mair replied “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. During the trial Mair made no attempt to defend himself, but had written extensively about the left, the liberals and the media as “traitors to white people” and his long held fantasy of killing a “collaborator”. He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. He was not regarded as a terrorist by the courts.
Despite the brutality and senselessness of Jo’s murder, her death was quickly reduced to a campaign card; a cautionary tale of Leave ideology taken too far or evidence of a sick Remain conspiracy to coerce public opinion, depending which side you choose to believe.
Something ugly had been growing in the streets of Britain. While we were getting poorer, bankers were receiving annual bonuses worth more money than any of us would see in a lifetime. While the NHS was being dismantled and schools were failing to meet basic standards, parliamentary expense scandals were getting more egregious. The media fired bad news directly into our brains: more crime, less jobs, more debt, less public spending, murder, corruption, disease, poverty. Thick swathes of doom slapped in our faces day after day.
In keeping with Tory tradition, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. A rift was beginning to open. Our lives were quantifiably worse than they were 10 years ago, but what could we do about it? Vote Conservative: we get fucked. Vote Labor: we get fucked. Vote Lib Dem… well, no one is actually going to do that, are they?
The system was broken.
We were looking for a way out and Nigel Farage knew it.
DIDN’T FUCK A PIG, BUT PROBABLY WOULD
Nigel Farage, a privately educated career politician, former City trader and son of a stockbroker, aligned himself, and UKIP and Leave by proxy, as anti-establishment rebels who were going to stick it to The Man and smash the system. Yes, he was going to take a big fat paycheck at the end of it. After all, fighting the power is a job like any other and must comply with EU Directive 2003/88/EC regarding the organisation of working time.
It is my belief that people, on the whole, are not stupid. But groups of people, especially when motivated by fear, anger and desperation, are.
Why don’t you have a job? An immigrant took it. Why are you poor? All your taxes go to welfare scroungers. Why did you spend six hours bleeding to death in a hospital corridor? Socialism. Who has allowed this to happen? The European Union.
Ah yes, the European Union. That shady cabal of unelected dictators and totalitarian superstate of tomorrow.
It isn’t difficult to see why people subscribe to the Farage rhetoric. The EU is a hive of white collar wasps, a bureaucratic nightmare that would put Franz Kafka to shame and an opaque centralisation of power which, while not strictly undemocratic, is certainly not democratic enough.
Farage speaks to our innate sense of Britishness and feeds us the answers we want to hear. He evokes the glory days of the Empire, the unwavering conviction that whatever happens, Britain will always be right and true. We are, and always have been destined for greatness. But we are also victims. We have been wronged. Wronged by the fatcats in Westminister and wronged by the strange backward foreigners in the EU. Our birthright as leaders of the free world is under threat. Our greatness unrecognised in this world gone mad. But we can make things right again. Things can be like they used to be, back in the Good Old Days, back when Britannia ruled the waves… for only £4 per month when you join UKIP. Stocks low! Act now!
Nigel Farage knew how to weaponise fear, mobilise anger and exploit desperation.
And, with a little help from the arrogant complacency of the Remain side, it worked.
THE POISONING OF NUMBER 10
June 23rd 2016. The question on the ballot paper was simple:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Option one: Remain a member of the European Union
Option two: Leave the European Union
But perhaps it wasn’t so simple. Option one was easy enough – remain and nothing changes. The Bullingdon Boys keep on riding us back to the Victorian era. But option two – what exactly is that? Option two had never been formally defined because it seemed so outlandish, so insane that no one ever thought it would actually happen. What are the mechanics of option two? What are the potential outcomes? Option two became a magical mystery box and everyone had their own opinion about what lay inside.
The question ceased to be one of economic pragmatism and became one of ideology. One which would polarize the nation into two very sectarian, even militant groups. The rift opened by the Tories over the previous six years had become a chasm and this was reflected when the results came in:
Remain – 48.11%, Leave – 51.89%.
Sterling plummeted instantly in the biggest single day currency crash since the introduction of floating currency exchange rates in 1971. The drop was so severe that it also pulled down the South African rand and the Canadian dollar. At the London Stock Exchange, the FTSE 100 dropped by 8.39% in the first 10 minutes of trading. The EY ITEM Club cut its economic growth projection for Britain from 2.6% to 0.4% for 2017, while the IMF cut it from 2.2% to 1.3% and reduced its forecast for global economic growth by 0.1% as a direct result of the referendum. Britain slipped from the world’s fourth largest economy to fifth.
David Cameron had gambled the country and lost.
He resigned the next day.
The cowardly fucker.
Cowardly fuckers do not comply with EU Directive 2011/35/EU regarding company restructuring.
Who would be the next Prime Minister? Well, Boris Johnson obviously. He had been vocal about his aspirations for Premiership for years and was seen as clear front runner by political analysts. This is what he had planned all along. This was the game. He had finally gained the upper hand, deposed his old Eton rival and now he would claim victory. Johnson wins.
Except he was suddenly not interested in running for leadership. Weird.
In fact, everyone in the Conservative party was strangely quiet.
The referendum had been an advisory vote and was not legally binding. To officially initiate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the Prime Minister would have to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. David Cameron had pledged to do this the day after the referendum if Leave won.
He did not.
10 Downing Street was now a poisoned chalice. David Cameron had left behind a 999 megaton clusterfuck, armed and ready to blow. The ultimate crop dusting. Whoever became the next leader of the Conservative party would have to invoke Article 50 – by choice.
They would be doomed from the outset.
Invoke Article 50 and send Britain back to the dark ages?
Or ignore the result of the biggest democratic vote in recent history?
Whichever choice David Cameron’s successor made would destroy them.
The next Prime Minister would be a sacrificial lamb, destined to take the fall for Cameron’s folly and go down in history as the Prime Minister who broke Britain. The name David Cameron would fade into the background as the inevitable flames of Brexit engulfed the nation under The New Worst Prime Minister Ever.
David Cameron knew this.
Boris Johnson knew this.
And if Theresa May knew this, her judgement must have been seriously impaired by a bad case of stupid.
ARTICLE 50 AND THE SLIDE INTO CHAOS
On March 29th 2017, having assumed office as unelected Prime Minister of Britain the previous July, Theresa May, a Remainer, formally invoked Article 50. Britain would be leaving the European Union on March 29th 2019. Brexit was go.
The Leave camp was already riled; having a Remain politician handle the Brexit process was seen as a conflict of interests and Remainers were not going down quietly either. A government petition was launched calling for a second referendum which gained over four million signatures, the largest petition in British history at the time, and a series of large scale protests led Remainers to be dubbed Remoaners and ‘enemies of democracy’. Even the language we used was becoming more militant.
In April, Theresa May called a snap election. Her campaign was a disaster and the Conservatives lost their majority, forcing May into an 11th hour confidence and supply deal with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP) to retain the house.
The DUP are, to borrow an Irish term, a shower of bastards. Irish terminology is covered by EU Regulation (EC) No 40/94 regarding European Community trade marks.
Arlene Foster has led the DUP since 2015, but its roots are planted firmly in the legacy of Ian Paisley.
Paisley, an evangelical Protestant minister, founded the DUP in 1971 during The Troubles, claiming to stand for a United Ireland, but only on the proviso that Irish Republicans roll over and accept British rule. Hard right, non-secular, anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, the DUP had strong ties to numerous paramilitary organisations between the late 60s and the 90s (including the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, of which Paisley was chairman, the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, and most notably, the Ulster Volunteer Force who, through sustained bombing campaigns, mass shootings and kidnappings, are thought to have claimed the lives of more than 500 people during The Troubles; mostly Irish Catholic civilians, usually targeted at random) and were the only political party to oppose the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
And now they were pulling the strings of May’s Conservative minority.
In parliament, Brexit progress was slow, with May focusing her energies on the continuation of Cameron’s austerity assault on Britain, pouring billions into the Trident nuclear program, selling arms to Saudi Arabia, privatising the NHS, reinstating the expansion of grammar schools and cutting 20,000 police officers from the force leading to a 93% increase in teenage knife crime.
There was a 42% spike in reported cases of racial abuse and hate crime in the period immediately following the referendum, finance and manufacturing companies began speculative talks about moving operations overseas and £40 billion was wiped off the economy by March 2019.
By the end of 2017, homelessness in Britain had increased by 134% since the Conservatives took power in 2010. Rent had increased three times as much as wages and the Trussell Trust, who handle around half of all food banks in Britain, reported that they handed out 41,000 food packs in the winter of 2009/2010 compared to 1.2 million in 2016/2017.
But May was keeping a tight lid on Brexit.
Anti-Brexit demonstrations were followed by pro-Brexit demonstrations, petitions were signed from both sides, graffiti was scrawled across shopfronts and bus stops throughout the land, neighbours stopped talking to each other and debates were reduced to childish name calling and circular polemics.
Remoaners accused Gammons of being backward racists promoting fascist ideology, while Gammons accused Remoaners of being globalist authoritarians promoting fascist ideology. There was no compromise, no concession and no conversation to be had.
David Cameron’s chasm was becoming unbridgeable.
Meanwhile, Theresa May had begun bungling negotiations with the EU, which did little to allay public anxiety over what exactly Brexit would mean. Will we leave with no deal? If so, who will we trade with under WTO guidelines? Will we leave with a deal? If so, what deal? What will happen to immigrants in Britain? What will happen to emigrants in Europe? Will there be a divorce bill? How will Northern Ireland leave the EU? Will there still be avocados in Sainsbury’s?
The Brexit clock was ticking.
December 4th 2018: May’s Government is found in contempt of parliament after refusing to disclose legal advice received on her proposed withdrawal agreement from the EU. This was the first time in British history that a government would be found in contempt.
December 12th 2018: May faces a vote of no confidence from her own party over her as yet unseen Brexit deal. She survives.
December 17th 2018: Corbyn tables a vote of no confidence against May, but the motion is not debated.
January 15th 2019: May finally brings her Brexit deal before the House of Commons in the first so-called ‘meaningful vote’. The 10 DUP MPs abstain over the Irish backstop agreement and May’s deal is defeated by 230 votes, the largest defeat against a British government in history. Corbyn tables a second motion of no confidence against May. She survives by a mere 19 votes.
February 14th 2019: May’s motion for parliamentary endorsement of her Brexit strategy is defeated by MPs.
March 12th 2019: Having secured last minute amendments from the EU, the second ‘meaningful vote’ on May’s Brexit deal is defeated by MPs.
March 13th 2019: May is forced to table a motion to reject leaving the EU with no deal. She issues a three line whip to the Conservative party to vote against her own motion which 17 Tory MPs defy and the motion is passes. Conservative MP Steve Double describes May’s deal as “the best turd we’ve got”.
March 14th 2019: Commons vote to extend Article 50. The motion is passed and May announces that she has set a new Brexit deadline for June 30th.
March 21st 2019: May addresses the nation from Downing Street, blaming the Brexit deadlock on MPs. She closes by telling the public “I am on your side”. The public disagree. Later that day Labor MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle is accused of being part of a conspiracy to prevent Brexit and attacked while meeting with constituents. Commons deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle advises MPs not to travel alone.
March 22nd 2019: Donald Tusk brings May’s extension request before the European Council, who reject it in lieu of the European Election registration date, offering an April 12th Brexit deadline instead.
March 23rd 2019: A People’s Vote march begins in London. Attendance figures vary, but it is estimated that between 350,000 to 650,000 people join the march, making it the largest demonstration in Britain since the 2003 anti-war march.
March 24th 2019: A government petition entitled ‘Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU’ surpasses five million signatures, overtaking the previous record setting petition calling for a second referendum making it the largest petition in British history. The creator of the petition receives several death threats.
March 25th 2019: The Letwin amendment is passed, transferring control of Commons business away from the government to parliament. A government petition entitled ‘Leave the EU without a deal in March 2019’ reaches 500,000 signatures.
March 27th 2019: Following the success of the Letwin amendment, ‘indicative votes’ are held to establish parliament’s preferred Brexit strategy. All eight propositions fail. To appease parliament, May announces that she will resign as long as her deal passes the third ‘meaningful vote’.
March 29th 2019: The third ‘meaningful vote’ on May’s unamended deal is defeated. Leave supporters gather at Westminister for the March To Leave demonstration. Attendance figures have not been published, but are likely in the thousands. The original Brexit deadline passes.
April 1st 2019: The second round of ‘indicative votes’. Four proposals are tabled. All fail.
April 2nd 2019: May calls for a further extension to Article 50. May and Corbyn agree to cross-party Brexit negotiations.
April 3rd 2019: The Cooper amendment which binds May into requesting a new deadline to rule out a no deal Brexit is passed by a majority of one. A motion to hold further ‘indicative votes’ is tied, forcing Commons Speaker John Bercow to cast the deciding vote for the first time in 26 years. The motion is blocked.
April 5th 2019: May requests a June 30th extension to Article 50, the date originally rejected by the EU.
April 11th 2019: May’s June 30th request is rejected by the EU. A flexible extension until October 31st – Halloween, is granted.
THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY
And so here we are. April 12th 2019. Two deadlines and almost three years since the referendum and Brexity McBrexitface continues to elude us. The FUK remains a member of the European Union, parliament is a dumpster fire and Sheraton Hotel and I are about to get a kicking in The Benjamin Huntsman.
In the hyperbolic chamber of digital information, where any fact can be proven or disproven a hundred times over with five minutes on Google, the central question of the 2016 European Referendum had no meaningful answer. The economic fallout of Brexit – whatever that may be, is a mere formality at this stage.
The real damage has already been done.
Britain is divided now. We are a culture engaged in a war against itself, one which has no possible resolution. The Bullingdon Boys have done us over. Like the Peckwater Quad at Christ Church College, they trashed the place just because they could. Then they fucked off.
Since resigning, David Cameron has followed his true passion as a garden shed enthusiast. His latest acquisition is a £25,000 custom built Red Sky Sheperd’s Hut, featuring wood-burning stove, sheep’s wool insulation and a sofa bed, where presumably he sits with a bag of pork scratchings in one hand, dick in the other, content in the knowledge that his new garden shed cost £2000 more than the average annual salary for a registered NHS nurse.
The wrong side of history?
We’re already there.