It’s been a while since I wrote in this blog. Sorry about that. It isn’t that I haven’t been writing. I have – up to 1500 words most weekdays, escaping into the world of my novel Governor’s Man: the Bronze Owl. Third century Roman Britain, the south-west to be precise, with excursions into Londinium and Rome itself. It’s a surprisingly alluring haven, despite the lack of central heating and Netflix. Actually some of the scenes do feature central heating, for which my policeman/detective Quintus Valerius is endlessly grateful given the vagaries of the British climate.
When I began this blog theme, back in mid-March, I may have made some sort of commitment to keeping the column a politics-free zone. I had, after all, spent much of my time from June 2016 to December 2019 blogging endlessly about Brexit and my part in its downfall. (See my Brexit blog theme, if you can bear to.)
I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired. Sick and tired of the three years and counting of Brexit. Fed up. Almost screaming to escape from backstops, blame games, borders (hard or otherwise), Boris, and Brussels.
Several times in the past week I’ve tried to write this post. Each time, events have roared past me. For a week I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle.
On Wednesday last week I met my fellow committee members of Malvern4Europe. We decided on wording for a new leaflet campaign, and resolved to crank up the frequency of our popular street stalls to every Saturday. That night I went home to hear the news that the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had announced he was proroguing Parliament, to deaden debate and force through a No Deal Brexit on 31 October. Our leaflet went on hold, while we prioritised more urgent action to protest this undemocratic and unconstitutional diktat.
So then I wanted to share with you the noise and camaraderie of the flash #StopTheCoup march in
Malvern on Thursday evening, when hundreds of local people turned out on word-of-mouth notice to protest the Government’s actions. This whole thing was now bigger than Brexit – nothing less than a fight to the death for our Parliamentary democracy.
On Saturday there was our wonderfully successful street stall outside the Great Malvern post office, when over 95% of the people we polled rejected Johnson’s right to prorogue, and demanded a second referendum. Blog time.
But before I could settle to write that post, word began to filter through that a widening group of Remain parties and Conservative MPs – the Rebel Alliance – were working together to table a motion preventing prorogation on Tuesday, to be followed if successful by another on Wednesday to rule out No Deal Brexit at the end of October. The PM would be obliged to request a further extension to Article 50, unless he could pull of the legerdemain of negotiating an acceptable deal. This seemed very unlikely, given no-one was actually negotiating with Europe anyway.
No point in blogging, I thought, till I knew what would happen in Parliament on Tuesday. I then spent the entire afternoon and evening doing something totally unprecedented: glued to BBC Parliament TV coverage, wine glass in one hand, order paper in the other. We screamed and shouted and groaned, and by the end we knew Parliament had finally taken back control. We watched, fascinated, as Boris Johnson popped up and down at the dispatch box like a manic Tweedledee, aided by the arrogant sleeping Caterpillar, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Since then, the dizzying avalanche of news has continued: Boris Johnson reeling as he loses three votes in the Commons; Jacob Rees-Mogg revealing how literally laid-back and reptilian he is; Dr Philip Lee, Tory MP, crossing the floor in the most dramatic way
to join the LibDems; Johnson sacking 21 senior Tory rebels, including two former Chancellors and the grandson of his hero Winston Churchill, thereby smashing his own majority into splinters; and today maybe the biggest shock of all – Johnson’s own brother Jo resigning from Government and party.
Add into the mix, somehow, the news that Theresa May’s much-hated deal has apparently been resurrected, and like the ghost of Banquo has materialised to join in the feast of delights that Parliament has become.
And now the prospect of a snap election draws closer.
So the right time for a considered reflective blog won’t happen anytime soon, and this is all I can offer for now. The dust cloud hasn’t settled, but instead risen into a raging hurricane. I sincerely hope it will be less damaging than Dorian; but right now we’re all up in the air, being whirled around by the tempest that is British politics.
All I can say for sure at the moment is: we’re not in Kansas anymore.
After three years of Brexit, it’s easy to feel jaded, worn out and helpless. Whichever way you voted in the referendum of June 2016, I’ll bet my Grandma’s best black hat you didn’t think you were voting for the mess we’re all in now. It would be so easy to give up, to throw our hands in the air and join the many who are saying, ‘I want it all to go away. Just get on with it.’
It’s nearly Christmas. So here in the UK that means festive conversations and convivial gatherings around the issue of the hour…Brexit.
This is me, Jacquie Rogers, writer, pro-European, and member of Malvern for Europe. Wearing a silly EU beret.
And this is Peggy, three months old. Definitely in charge. Wearing a canine gilet jaune.Together we canvassed for the People’s Vote in Great Malvern today.