While I’ve been guilty of it myself, in recent weeks I’ve become increasingly wary of some of the hyperbole being used to describe the United Kingdom’s likely no-deal withdrawal from the European Union and the probable repercussions that will follow it. Though the term “car crash exit” makes for a punchy metaphor it dramatises what is probably going to be more of a “slow-motion” car crash as a post-Brexit UK gradually heads into a period of sustained socio-economic recession and government-imposed austerity.
Brexit Britain will not be a Mad Max-style wasteland of boarded-up Pound Shops nor will it be a mercantile metropolis off the coast of Europe. Instead it’s likely to be a sort of Thatcherite theme-park, a country administered by free market zealots while in the grip of a prolonged Winter of Discontent with government cuts, rising unemployment, increasing wealth disparity and social discontent. This will be worsened by poor diplomatic relations with its nearest neighbours, which could see the European Union putting the “squeeze” on British businesses both locally and globally to protect the interests of its own member states and their individual and EU-level trade agreements or plans.
However, short of a breakup of the United Kingdom itself, with Scotland finally voting for independence (which remains an unlikely proposition despite some polling outliers), I cannot see the UK descending into civil war-style anarchy. Certainly there will be unrest and trouble of one kind or another but street confrontations, protests and even rioting does not make for internecine conflict. And in these cases the proximate cause for the violence will be the economic isolationism and decline that comes with Brexit rather than the supposed casus belli of Brexit itself.
Of course, the anti-Brexit camp in Britain and elsewhere is not the only one guilty on the hyperbole charge, but its guilt pales in comparison with that of the pro-Brexit movement where much of the language almost encourages that which it supposedly warns against. Take the newspaper and magazine columnist Dan Hodges writing in the Daily Mail who seems to have successfully completed his journalistic journey to the farther right of British politics:
This morning Britain stands on the brink of a second civil war. The Kamikaze Remainers are heading for the barricades – quite literally – in an attempt to prevent the usurpation of democracy. Bridges are to be seized. Streets occupied. The Prime Minister’s ‘declaration of war will be met with an iron fist,’ announced Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake.
And, once again, the Kamikaze Remainers are allowing self-righteous outrage to blind them to reality. Despite the hysterical talk of a hard-Brexit ‘coup’, Mr Johnson hasn’t prorogued Parliament in order to force through a No Deal Brexit. He has prorogued Parliament precisely so he can drive through a deal and avoid a No Deal Brexit.
Who is really acting like the dictator this morning? The person who is attempting to force Parliament to act in concert with the wishes of the people who elected them? Or those who are again attempting to impose a never-ending parliamentary veto over the wishes of the voters?
So this week they will begin their own act of insurrection. The fact that Mr Johnson is specifically attempting to avoid the very No Deal Brexit they profess to oppose is irrelevant. They will take to the streets. They will occupy bridges. They will give the British people a taste of that iron Remainer fist.
A coup is indeed under way. But it is not being mounted by the Prime Minister.
Hysterical, in every sense of the word.
Meanwhile, and forgive me for linking to the YouTube channel of the laughably-named New Culture Forum, a neo-right Brexiteer think tank in the UK, here is the studiously old fashioned conservative commentator Peter Hitchens with a particularly pessimistic assessment of Britain’s future. Or lack thereof. Enjoy!