AAmid slippages, losses, disappearing investments and declines in exports, the drip of Brexit damage never stops. I collect examples every week, as if I was collecting spent mortar cartridges from a battlefield. Wednesday was 450 jobs lost as an auto parts maker, Toyoda Gosei is preparing to close factories in Rotherham and Swansea and move to the Czech Republic.
A breathtaking £ 800 roll of gold wallpaper distracts our eye. A prime minister who has stacked tens of thousands of bodies, while apparently fixing buddies taxes and buddies contracts, has his eyes set on the stalks. No one knows how deep Boris Johnson can sink in the mud and still swim.
But history will record a great political crime above all the others, its eccentric dishonest are only illuminations on its edges. The offender who missed Brexit halfway across the country with a star dust of false promises to secure the throne will leave Brexit ruptures behind long after he leaves.
The most serious to date is to jeopardize the peace in Northern Ireland, as Arlene Foster is overthrown by the impossible contradictions of Brexit. There was warnings: two former prime ministers spoke in Derry just before the referendum, when Tony Blair said that “there should be checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which would be simply unacceptable”, while that John Major warned of a “historic mistake” that would destabilize the Good Friday deal. But Foster, a staunch Brexiter, dismissed the “deeply offensive” story that remains frightening.
The DUP’s impossible position on Brexit will be inherited by the unfortunate candidate who succeeds him. Why support Brexit when Northern Ireland was against it and the border dilemma triggered a red warning? Why support Boris Johnson when, of course, he would miss it with his protocol for splitting the UK? Why did the DUP not ask the whole of the UK still in the single market?
Unionists, like too many British people, have been seduced by this magic word of sovereignty: how ironic that it can now break the union. Of this Johnson and his demolition crew knew nothing and cared less. There was always Kate Hoey, a doughty unionist, to keep promising: “Brexit will not hurt Northern Ireland at all – on the contrary, it will light up its future.” Now, in retaliation, protesting against protocol, she complaints that “Northern Ireland did not have Brexit”.
Just so. No one got the Brexit they imagined, because none have ever been acceptable or sustainable. That was the trick of the leavers: they never said what kind of Brexit, because any version was a killer. So here we are with the worst Brexit deal ever. Next week’s elections in Scotland look certain to secure a nationalist majority: the more repulsive the Conservatives at Westminster, the more attractive Holyrood’s independence. As the European Parliament approved Brexit this week, Scottish cultural leaders pleaded with MEPs to welcome Scotland back to the EU.
This week, leading UK arts organizations wrote to Johnson asking him to address the visa, customs and work permit crisis that is preventing them from touring in the EU, providing them with the income they need to to survive. Johnson promised them last month that he “fix itBut he can’t ‘fix’ things, because every industry, from fish and finance to ballet, is asking for a ‘special offer’. There’s no problem with his hard Brexit: it’s the same deal all third countries get. As President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stress: “Faithful implementation is essential.” No wonder the European Parliament added a resolution this week calling Brexit a “historic mistake”.