It was, I think, when I went to the office next to mine to use the scanner, only to emerge after a 20-minute Brexit rant and having forgotten all about the scanning, that I realised I still have some way to go before I come to terms with 2016. The greatest upheaval in British politics since the Second World War is not something that I am prepared to get over with a cheery wave and generous dose of optimism.
To recent specifics. Over the weekend, I was delighted to read that Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has raised the possibility of Britons being charged for visas to visit the continent in the rapidly approaching post-Brexit wasteland that looks to be 2019. I was equally delighted to read that the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, has said that bankers could well be exempt from any forthcoming immigration controls. Seriously, you’d struggle to engineer this kind of symmetry with a six-foot high mirror and the Chinese gymnastics team.
Of course, Rudd may very well be buttering us up with a worst-case scenario. “Look how bad it could get!” she cries, only to turn around in a little over two years time to say that she has saved us from the worst of what could have happened. No need to so manage the expectations of the rich, of course. As Hammond has quite rightly identified, they must be reassured of their special status at the government’s earliest convenience lest sleepless nights distract them from the economically vital task of self-enrichment. The economy may be teetering on the brink of recession like a bullion-filled bus at the end of a classic crime caper, but the one thing that’s certain to get ball rolling again is the continued hyper-mobility of bankers’ wallets. Besides, why pass up a perfect opportunity for some good, old-fashioned them-and-us policy-making?
One can’t help but feel that, at some point, it may come as a surprise to many people that their own lives could be affected by Brexit – and not in a good way. As a slogan, “take back control” is notable in its failure to convey the complexities of what taking back control actually entails. Moreover, it has very little to say on how negotiations of any kind are a two-way street. Sticking it to the EU seems like a grand idea when the EU is a distant, bureaucratic blob. But things heave into sharper focus once you realise that taking back control means horse-trading over a great deal that makes up the substance of many peoples’ livelihoods.
On which note, it is good to see Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, standing up for the little people – I think? – and sticking it to captains of industry for being “lazy”: for preferring playing golf to raising GDP. There can be no one who takes their responsibility to the wealth of nations as seriously as Fox, even as he staggers through post-referendum politics like a drunk Tina Turner impersonator. One would be forgiven for hoping that cabinet ministers would be more, shall we say, tactful, as they prepare for what Fox’s colleague and fellow Brexiter-at-arms David Davis has described as the most complicated negotiations in history. Perhaps he’s getting it all out of his system early. For now, however, we can deduce only that if Liam Fox is the answer, Britain is asking the wrong question.
Before I totter back next door to have another pop at that scanning, there’s just time to wave David Cameron off into the sunset. Remaining as an MP much like he promised to remain as prime minister in the event of a Brexit vote, he becomes the last of the former captains to leave the sinking ship. I know he campaigned for a Remain vote, but this whole referendum shebang was his idea in the first place: I think we can say that this is his party as much as it is Boris Johnson’s and Michael Gove’s. He’s been awfully quiet of late, which is a smart move. Hearing too much from former prime ministers is rather like your ex popping up on Facebook messenger wanting to know whether you want to go for can-we-still-be-friends-please drinks. Then again, perhaps he figures that this is a shitshow that’s best observed from the outside.
The views and opinions outlined in this piece belong entirely to the author, and are not reflective of the views of the wider Editorial team, nor Concrete as a whole.