Having campaigned in the dullest prose, it may not be a surprise to find Theresa May proceeding to govern without any obvious hint of wit. Brexit means Brexit really does mean that May plans to wrestle some sort of ‘sensible’ Brexit into existence.
For her, this is likely to be a terrible mistake. Brexit never did mean Brexit: the vote reflected myriad concerns which bore but superficial connection to the European Union.
There has so far been no hint of an emerging upside, capable of persuading Remainers. No positive case can be stated in prose, facts or figures. To make Brexit ‘real’ is simply to make the UK poorer economically and diplomatically.
For Leavers, Brexit’s allure lurks in the poetic. It is an expression of faith in our faded national narrative. It suggests a desire that Britain reassert itself. Bold action would be called for to sate that hunger.
And so when a ‘sensible’ Brexit is proposed, Brexiters jeer. Any actual Brexit deal is bound to be taken as a betrayal and the more cynical Brexit leaders have been planning for that from the start. A dream cannot be distilled into negotiated terms.
Since the Brexiters will fight tirelessly to kill any deal, it follows that supporters of the ‘Brexit dream’ are any, but one, actual Brexits’ deadliest enemies.
And you do not have to be too devious to suggest that it may be best, better even than a People’s Vote, for Brexiters to be the ones to murder Brexit.
This prize is now tantalisingly close. The question is what, if anything, needs to be done to nudge the Brexiters forward.
The answer would, unnervingly, appear to be nothing at all.
Brexit then becomes a game of chicken: can a ‘no deal’ be allowed to take place? Brexiters appear increasingly attracted to it. They have moved from suggesting that it was necessary to leave the possibility on the table as part of our negotiating strategy, to positively craving it. For them, it is the only Brexit bold enough.
If Leavers can be convinced that a ‘no deal’ Brexit is inconceivable, Brexit dies. But any campaign along those lines will be slated as Project Fear 2.
If Leavers can’t be convinced, our politicians have a choice either to prevent it anyway and face the full force of a “Betrayal” movement, or to let it happen so that all can see with their own eyes why a comprehensive deal (membership or something like it) is necessary.
Either way, Brexit’s days are numbered.