The coffin of politics

I never thought this would happen. When it came down to it, I was convinced that the UK is a small ‘c’ conservative country and would vote to preserve the status quo. We’d vote to Remain, Nigel Farage would continue to bleat on about rigged votes and everything would carry on as normal.

But, oh, for fuck’s sake. It depresses me so much that a horrible, divisive campaign – so much like the one London comprehensively sent packing with the mayoral election – won over nearly 17.5m people. A campaign filled with outright lies, padded out with straight-up racism. A campaign that saw a woman get killed (a woman Farage seemed to forget about in his victory speech, saying his little independence movement succeeded without a single shot being fired. Oh, apart from those ones in Birstall, but never mind).

This wasn’t about Europe. This was about giving a bloody nose to them government poshos who never listen. There are Leave voters on the BBC today saying they didn’t mean it, they didn’t think Leave would win. On Facebook, there’s someone I used to hang out with – and no longer do because of bellendry like this – saying ‘oh crap, it was only a protest vote’. Yeah, well your little protest just wiped £1.5 trillion off the value of the world’s economy.

Project Fear my arse.

We are now a country that would happily shoot itself in the foot because of some rumours it heard down the pub. We are all Daily Mail online commenters. We’re drunk football fans giving it some outside a bar in Marseille, surprised when the French police fires in tear gas. We prefer to believe in what we ‘just know’ over what we can research and verify. We would prefer it to be 1952, not 2016, because nobody remembers the rationing and outside toilets and polio, they remember… well, they remember a country that never actually existed.

Don’t think that because you live in London or Bristol or York you’re an exception to this. Democracy is collective responsibility. Unless you’re Scotland, but they’ve been trying to leave for bloody ages and I suspect they’re secretly quite pleased.

It’s only going to get worse. All those bullshit promises – more money to the NHS, independently negotiated trade deals, restrictions on immigration – when they don’t materialise, voters will realise they were sold a pup. But instead of blaming their gullible selves, so desperate to find easy solutions to complex problems like inequality, housing and healthcare, it’ll be one more nail in the coffin of politics. They really are all the same, will be the cry. Bloody elites! And will continue to look for easy solutions, proffered by whatever extremist charlatan comes along next.

Having said all this… I kind of feel like we won’t leave, that the worst predictions won’t happen. At Friday morning’s Leave press conference, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart looked like they were bricking themselves. Johnson, in particular, only got into this to satisfy his craving for attention. But he might be the Remainers’ best hope. And I say that even though I’m terrified of the prospect. I’ve watched him work at City Hall for years, in a way most political journalists haven’t (too busy with Westminster). He’s lazy, has no concentration span, is allergic to hard work and would sell out his firstborn for a personal advantage.

Yet that very unscrupulousness may be our saving grace: a Brexit politician so underhand they have no qualms about standing before the nation in six months’ time and saying “Britain! We heard you loud and clear and look at the deal we’ve secured for you! No need to leave after all!”.

This would, of course, be dependent on the EU being willing to cut a deal. Indications aren’t promising. Johnson has been saying for months that they would, but Johnson isn’t as clever as his media image. But if anyone is shameless enough to pull off a u-turn that ignores democratic mandate, it’s him. And ironically, given Johnson’s penchant for handing the levers of power to unelected civil servants because he cannot be arsed to do the job himself, the hatred of faceless bureaucrats in Brussels will produce more power for faceless bureaucrats in London.

Look upon thy works, Leavers, and weep. This is what you’ve reduced us all to. Placing hope in the hands of Boris fucking Johnson, who couldn’t give a toss about any of you other than that you hand him Downing Street. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.

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