What does Brexit mean to you? It’s a simple question. And despite the current, polarised climate, it’s also one all sides of the political spectrum can answer. After all, many on the left had argued to leave the EU for years.
Yet Brexit’s right-wing figureheads – the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage, along with their media supporters – have turned the issue into an exercise in self-parody. Serious content is absent. While the latest ruse is a campaign over pint glasses, of all things.
Utter, utter banality
The ‘blue passport‘ episode highlighted Brexit’s shallowness. Trumpeted as a great victory by the gutter press, it later emerged that the UK was free to change passport colour while in the EU. No regulation prevented it. In other words, if blue passports are such a big deal, we could have had them without Brexit.
Despite the embarrassment this should have caused, right-wing Brexiteers were undeterred. A petition appeared online campaigning for the crown symbol to be reinstated onto pint pots used in pubs, along with the word ‘pint’. Apparently this disappeared during membership of the EU.
Is there a better emblem for Brexit Britain? Rather than being written off as the complete irrelevance it clearly is, the issue is considered serious enough to be publicly discussed by professional journalists. Unsurprisingly, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage was quick to join the tub-thumping. When Colin Brazier from Sky News suggested that pint glasses could be restored to “full British glory”, Farage quoted the tweet, adding “Absolutely. Sign the petition!”.
— Colin Brazier (@colinbraziersky) January 3, 2018
Absolutely. Sign the petition! https://t.co/OFlbsNDYrn
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) January 3, 2018
Cheese. Yes, that’s right, cheese
Not to be outdone, Secretary of State for the Environment and Vote Leave figurehead, Michael Gove also recently blurred the lines between politics and satire. Responding to questions about Brexit and food prices on 20 December, Gove urged British people to “be more patriotic about cheese”. He went on to state that his department was “very pro Cheddar”, before reeling off the names of several Cheddar varieties.
Of course, the referendum campaign in 2016 did not run on issues like this. But now, as the weakness of Britain’s negotiating position becomes clear, as David Davis and the rest humiliate themselves so regularly, caving in to every demand, this is the best they have.
Brexit cannot deliver on its headline socio-economic promises. That much is obvious now. Forget the bus, with its £350m a week for the NHS, forget the ‘Breaking Point’ immigration posters, forget Boris Johnson’s slogan of ‘taking back control’. The reality of Brexit is that it’s concerned with passports, pints and cheese.
Throughout its history, the EU has been a bank-led, corporate institution with a track record of investment in austerity. Yet none of this is discussed, because Tories don’t mind any of that. Instead, the Leave campaign lied through its teeth. In this way, that much-derided bus has become a metaphor for Brexit itself. It’s slow and clunky. It pollutes. It struggles to manoeuvre and it stops often, but somehow it still carries passengers.
There can surely be few people, even among Leave voters, who applaud Brexit’s current direction?
So, to return to the question at the top of this page – what does Brexit mean to you? If your answer is passport covers, beer glasses and some guff to do with cheddar, then you must be pretty pleased. And if not, you should be asking what can be done.
If the right-wing Brexit bus cannot be stopped, it must at least be forced to change route.
– Read more Canary articles about Brexit here
– Join us so we can continue to hold the powerful to account
Featured image from Flickr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?