In Central Park last week, I got chatting to an old lady walking her dog. “Tell me,” she said, pensive, “what must the rest of the world think of us, of our dreadful government? It’s such an embarrassment.”
I matched her grimace. “You’re okay at the moment,” I said. “We’re all too busy ogling the Brexit circus.”
Which was a little bit true. We’re all aware of Brexit, aka Make the United Kingdom Great Again (MUKGA hat anyone?), whatever our opinions – and it seems many expats in South Africa and elsewhere rather fancy it.
Might the international editions of certain British tabloids be to thank/blame for this sentiment? Or a notorious bus covered with fallacies about all the cash that would go to the health service if Britain were to leave?
Or just the undeniable fact that adult discourse – whether on social media or in the hallowed halls of government – has been reduced to playground name-calling, where the snappiest soundbite always wins?
Whatever, last week Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (no need for tawdry nicknames when his parents already did the hard work) trumpeted his New Deal, and everyone was suitably impressed. Or not.
If you’re wondering what’s different, I have done the homework.
The New Deal basically cuts loose Northern Ireland, putting a border in the Irish Sea, exactly what Boris said he wouldn’t do, what Theresa May refused.
Goods moving into Northern Ireland from the UK would have duties imposed on them, unless they’re staying strictly in the North, and not going into the borderless Republic of Ireland (a separate, sovereign country, for those not keeping up).
Secondly, the UK would no longer be as tightly bound to those EU directives that previously “levelled the playing field” so that the UK couldn’t undercut the EU.
If that sounds like a De Pfeffel win, consider that it’s a relaxing on things like minimum wages, taxation, labour standards, safety, and environmental protection: the very things you’d think were important for the future welfare of the people.
But Brexit is not going to conclude anytime soon. It’ll drag on… and on… Got it? You’re welcome.
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