In the thick of silly season 2018, what dominates British political headlines? Everyone is bored of Brexit, and little is happening on that front that will be even nominally newsworthy until September. Luckily, several of the wacky characters at the forefront of UK politics have decided to step into the breach. News outlets search for anti-Semitism under every Labour Party stone – and find something new and cringeworthy under almost each one. Meanwhile, Corbyn is due to give another equivocal apology any day now, one that makes sure we know he’s not a big fan of the state of Israel.
Boris decided he was sick of Jezza stealing the limelight and wrote some column I haven’t bothered to read, something along the lines of banning the burqa is a bad idea because it’s illiberal to dictate what people can and cannot wear, oh but women who wear them look like post boxes, apparently. Some people are upset by the offence caused to Muslims; more people should be upset by Boris’ latest horrid attempt to gather favour from the Tory membership, and that he thought comparing women to post boxes would be the most effective way of achieving this.
Despite this, we could look back on this summer as the real end of an era a few years from now. Basically, unless Theresa May can get a soft Brexit past parliament somehow, I don’t see how the party political system does not explode at some point over the next eighteen months. If a no deal really hovers into view, the Tories can save themselves by uniting around the fact that letting this happen would be a terrible idea, both for the country and for the party, yet there seems no mood to do this. Labour can only save themselves by chucking aside Corbyn and somehow getting a new leader that ticked each of the following boxes: was liked and respected by the far left, the soft left and the Labour Right, had appeal to the greater electorate, and somehow came up with a position on Brexit that managed to keep everyone on side. So, yeah, Labour is in a mess with no realistic escape valve.
No one really thinks things will kick off in Westminster in the grand manner I am alluding to here. Despite everyone professing no confidence in May’s ability to achieve anything of note, everyone still takes her somehow navigating Brexit successfully as the default position. Sure, we’ve had the “stockpile your tins in case of no Brexit” headlines, but they feel like they have been taken very lightly, as if no one really believes in the possibility of a no deal Brexit becoming reality. What I’m saying is, the default setting of Westminster logic makes no sense and has at its heart a massive, glaring contradiction. This will not last for very much longer. Reality is about to intervene.
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