By Eustace C. Jackson.
October 21, 2016.
On June 16, 2016, British Parliamentarian, Jo Cox, was in broad daylight, brutally stabbed and then shot to death by an assailant who was loudly exhorting her to put Britain’s interests first – perhaps posthumously! Jo had just wrapped up an event with her constituents in Bately and Spen in the city of West Yorkshire. It was only 6 days to her 42nd birthday and 7 days to the monumental Brexit vote. Brexit? Yes, Brexit gals and guys and please bear with Eustace, we’d get to everything in due course. Jo Cox was an ardent opponent of Brexit. On June 24, a day after Brexit, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, made it known that Scotland would opt to remain in the EU, a clear signal that Scotland would take another crack at autonomy. Exactly 20 days later, on July 13, Theresa May, the Secretary of the Interior at the time was presenting her credentials to the Head of State, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who subsequently appointed her as Prime Minister, only the second woman to attain that position in Britain’s storied history.
Those were the bookends to a very tumultuous and turbulent summer for the people of the United Kingdom and the House of Windsor.
When MP Jo Cox was savagely slain on the streets of Batley and Spen, we the people were still reeling from the grief and sorrow from the gruesome attack on over 100 Orlando nightclub goers, leaving 49 of them dead. We were therefore drawn to this event primarily to discern if this event was potentially yet another terrorist attack. And that was the first time a good number of us even heard the word, Brexit. So what is Brexit?
Brexit, girls and boys, is a wordplay from two words – Britain and exit, to signify the exit of Britain. Exit from where, you ask. Eustace thinks some regional geography refresher is in order. Britain or Great Britain is an amalgamation of three countries – England, Scotland and Wales. These three make up the contiguous Great Britain. Add to that, Northern Ireland and you’d get the United Kingdom.
When some fringe right wing activists began to agitate for Britain’s exit from the EU, Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron, the moderate conservative leader of the Conservative Tory party called for a referendum to determine the UK’s EU status. In the heart of the discontent was the charge by Brexit proponents that their abdication of their border control was injurious to their social fabric, national identity and national security.The proponents also charged that their EU cost/benefit analysis has them with the short end of the straw. So PM Cameron called for a referendum to settle the matter once and for all. This was a referendum to determine how they’d relate with their European kindred, to determine if they’re more or less xenophobic than they’re accommodating. This is what David Cameron set out to ascertain, referendum style. This appears to be Cameron’s primal response to matters of dispute. It seems to be one of his favorite things to do. When word reached Cameron that some tourist had broken wind in the beautiful Trafalgar Square, Cameron quickly summoned his cabinet and thereafter ordered a referendum to decide if the iconic landmark should be designated a fart-free zone! Just kidding, but such was the frivolity of Cameron’s near obsession with referendums and that is why he shall henceforth be known as David “the Referender” Cameron. Or just simply, “Referender.”
In 2014, to the bitter chagrin of Her Majesty, the Queen of England and the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, the Referender called for a referendum for the Scots to determine if they’d remain in the British Union or stand alone, independent of Britain. The proud Scots, by a smaller than anticipated margin, decided it was in their best interest to stay – which btw must’ve severely pissed off Mel Gibson and the Wallace dude from Braveheart. The Referender damn near lost Scotland and by extension, probably Northern Ireland as well. The House of Windsor breathed a sigh of relief, a relief that turned out to be short-lived. The Referender struck before long and this time around, the stars didn’t align with him.
On June 23, 2016, the Brexit vote prevailed. In an ironic twist, Brexit prevailed by about the same margin the polls had predicted it’ll fail by!
So much for polls! And that was when reality began to set in.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the second most searched term/phrase in the UK the day after Brexit was “What is the EU?” Girls and boys, truth is thornier than fiction. Eustace doesn’t know what the #1 search term is, but can imagine it may look something like “OMG! Wtf have we done?” Or “Brexit! And now what?”
Now what? That is the question that has best captured the collective mood of them Brits in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.
Girls and boys, what is the EU?
On November 1, 1993, 6 Western European countries – Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg
and the Netherlands – banded together and formed the European Union. The overarching motivation behind this melding of nations was the realization that together they’d constitute a political and economic force, exponentially stronger than the fragmented states would allow. Plus, what the heck, they mostly already were in a national security and military alliance by way of NATO. Girls and boys, that’s essentially the EU.
The EU set and implemented such ambitious goals as currency unification (the Euro) and border eradication (freedom of movement for commerce and labor), within the protection of a single market (the European Economic Community EEC). The hypothesis behind these bold measures was the expectation that over time, by the process of social integration and economic diffusion, that the member states would achieve parity, such that immigration between nation states will be driven more by want rather than need. The EU also recognized that before parity, the bigger and more metropolitan cities would more than likely experience a disproportionate influx of immigration before things even out.
These projections were well established and understood when the UK later joined the EU. As a precondition to joining the EU, the UK sought and received an exemption from the currency unification, which meant the mighty Pound Sterling lived on as Britain’s sole legal tender.
In light of these, Britain’s request for even more special status, allowing her special regulatory authority to more strongly control her borders reeked of a spoiled and insatiable Oliver Twist, gunning to enjoy all the benefits of membership without bearing any of the costs.
That is why when Brexit passed, a pissed Europe advocated a quick and immediate extrication of the bad British rubbish!
As it began to be elucidated, the potential consequences of the UK’s exit from the EU, a general sense of foreboding and resentment began to forment. The immediate effects were unpleasant, to put it mildly. In today’s globalized economy, the Brexit stink smelled its way worldwide, eviscerating financial markets along its path. The new country (we the people) wasn’t spared. 240 years after we untangled ourselves from the avaricious imperial grip of George III, his descendants still find ways to irritate us when they can. Brexit ravaged many a 401k and retirement account such that Eustace proposes that the #1 search term in the US might have looked something like “what the hell is Brexit?”
Meanwhile, although 17 million votes secured Brexit, as of press time and in an unprecedented case of what Eustace terms “leavers’ remorse”, almost 8 million signatories had petitioned for a redo. Ou la la! Mostly youth and metropolitan voters, they claimed they were lied to. They were deceived. They were misled. They were promised this gargantuan pot of raw cash – some refund windfall from the EU. And blue skies and blueberry pie and sandy beaches. Ah girls and boys, there are Republicans everywhere! They may go by different names and labels, but they share the same foundational characteristics – they cater to the wealthy, despise the poor and powerless and have a unique knack for making their impressionable faithfuls vote against their own self interests. They juke their followers into believing that they too can be prosperous although in their heart of hearts, they play the ultimate zero-sum game.
The British monarch is the ceremonial British Head of State. In line with age-old tradition, the British PM has the ears of Her Majesty, the Queen, in a weekly pow wow at the Buckingham Palace. Eustace has word on authority that the House of Windsor issued an internal edict that prohibited any utterance of the Referender’s name anywhere in and around the royal premises. And the normally still, steady, stoic and stationary Brigade of Guards, was instructed to spit on the Referender’s motorcade both when he came and when he left. And so it was that the Referender arrived at the Buckingham Palace for his weekly royal chit chat – his last. He was kept waiting and was offered no tea. Nor biscuits. After he courtesied Her Majesty when she walked in, the Referender was beginning to apologize when Her Majesty cut him short with a gentle wave of her gloved royal right hand. That was when the normally prim, proper and prudish queen uncharacteristically leaned into the Referender, elic iting the following dialogue:
Her Majesty (HM);: what the f*c* have you done you miserable son of a bulimic centipede! What the hell were you thinking, if at all you were?
Referender I am so so sorry Your Majesty, I had all the polls comfortably on my side but they turned out to be wrong. I’m so sorry Your Majesty, I totally screwed up.
HM: (red faced and trembling with rage) Screwed up? Is that what you call this, you worthless weazly fecal coliform. You’re talking about a screw up? You have singlehandedly precipitated the potential downfall and disintegration of the House of Windsor!
Referender: (crouched over on his chair, both hands covering his face and sobbing profusely) I regret my actions Your Majesty.
HM: You ought to. You have brought shame upon your family. You had no business calling for a referendum in the first place!
And that is the tragedy of Brexit – the vote shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. And here’s why.
The Brexit movement was primarily spearheaded by a fringe right wing activist named Nigel Farage, under the auspices of his UK Independence Party (UKIP). His call for a plebiscite should’ve been ignored and derisively dismissed altogether, but the Referender thought otherwise. And that is why the Republicanism edge goes to our very own republicans, for which wo ought to be proud, no? Eustace contends, with mathematical certainty, that Mitch McConnell wouldn’t’ve allowed such a vote. Yes, our very own Senate Leader, who singlehandedly ensured that our SCOTUS would be quorumless for almost a full year, rather than hold committee hearings, talkless an up/down vote for an Obama appointee, wouldn’t’ve allowed a Brexit vote. That said, Brexit did hold and Brexit did pass, thrusting the entire kingdom into the quagmire of an unknown and uncertain aftermath. The composition of the votes was very revealing. The city of London, which is perhaps the most diverse and integrated city on t he globe, voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. This trend was to be repeated in the vast majority of the more metropolitan and diverse cities across the kingdom, which begs the questions “who voted for Brexit and how did Brexit pass?” The answer is a potent mix of intrigue, deceit, apathy and xenophobia. How so? The vote was championed by the less metropolitan constituencies, such as Jo Cox’s Bately and Spen in West Yorkshire, who historically have experienced little to no integration and so have no understanding ot its benefits – even in the abstract (xenophobia). The Brexit vote was also cast by constituents, who didn’t exercise enough curiosity to self-enlighten and cross check the facts, but instead relied on the misinformation from the proponents (deceit). Brexit also passed because of the UK’s version of the “Braddy effect”, whereby ,voters, based on polling information, erroneously determine that their positions are secured enough to not need their votes, hence their laxity (apathy). Ultimately however, this one’s on them who concocted this mischievous plot, knowing fully well that they had neither the facts nor the truth on their side. They rolled the dice, deployed all the tricks in their arsenal and hoped the people would bite. And bite they did. This is democracy on full display and the outcome isn’t always desirable. Eustace is reminded of Daniel Bell’s take on democracy when he said ‘”communism is a system whereby man exploits man. Democracy is vice versa.”
And then the matter of Scotland. Immediately after the Brexit vote, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, made clear that Scotland would go to any length to remain in the EU – an allusion to the reality that Scotland may have to mount another bid for autonomy. Northern Ireland also indicated likewise. See why Her Majesty might have been a little pissed?
Enter the ubiquitous and intemperate Donald John Trump, our very own president-wannabe! By purpose or happenstance, Trump was in town the day after Brexit, as the kingdom pondered the way forward. Speaking from his golf club in Aberdeen in the heartland of his maternal homeland, the self-acclaimed king of debt who has no depth, apparently didn’t understand the nuances of the aftershock of Brexit. You see girls and boys, about 7 out of 10 Scots voted to stay in the EU, so to stand on Scottish soil and laud Brexit, was to essentiality stick it to the Scots, on their home court no less!
All that said, an angry and disappointed EU called for an immediate and accelerated extrication, but the message from the kingdom was a resolute and resounding “we’re not ready!” In fact, on July 18, the British Parliament declared only it (Parliament) can trigger the exit process and that it wasn’t in a haste to do so. Parliament also made clear that while Brexit would allow the UK better control of her borders, the UK intended to remain and participate in the single market of the EEC, to which the EU responded with an emphatic “hell no mate, that ain’t gonna happen! Don’t even think ’bout it! If you want the freedom to trade goods and services, you must allow for the free movement of labor/manpower.” So for now, everything remains in a holding pattern. It is entirely possible that all that hoopla may have been for nothing. In her maiden speech, PM Theresa May made crystal clear that she is very commited to keeping the UK whole. We shall see. On October 3, PM May announced s he will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Agreement next March. That would trigger the delicate exit process. Much like the delicate surgical separation of conjoined twins, Article 50 leans more towards precision rather than alacrity. It is expected to take approximately two and half years. That’s enough time for many things to happen. So once again, we shall see.
Boys and girls, although Trump has drawn all sorts of inarticulate and non sequitur parallels in his unsurprissing attempt to make hay from others’ misery, there are in actuality some very important teachable chunks from the Brexit cesspool. Eustace hereby identifies three of them.
First, we the people need always to put in the effort to know the facts and the truth, whether or not our positions or perspectives align with them. Why? Because the truth truly does set you free to determine to what extent you’re prepared to fight in defence of it or in opposition to it, in accordance with your interests. Secondly, we the people must stay engaged and involved especially if we have a dog in the fight. And in today’s interconnected globalized world, American issues are world issues. And vice versa. So we mustn’t outsourse to others the defence and protection of our interests. We must engage our friends, engage our kinfolks and have them engage others. Why? Because you usually don’t win the battles you don’t fight. We can’t afford to be bystanders because like Brexit, girls and boys, we don’t get a do-over! Thirdly, we the people must come to the realization that there’s life outside of our shores. We often seem to be oblivious to that fact as aptly demonstrate d by the way we phrase our professional sports championships. We play the superbowl and declare the victor “World” Champions, even though American football isn’t played professionally anywhere else. The MLB “World” Series would culminate in the crowning of a “World” Champion (Go Cubs)! And so on. Folks, there’s evidence of life beyond our “sea to shining sea!” We must learn and understand this world and even travel this world, both physically and virtually because travel broadens the mind.
Moving on girls and boys, Eustace told you this was a tale of four women. He lied. This tale is too much for four women alone. Some men were also entangled. Here they are:
President Putin – (chuckling in Russian) “the British bastards are out. Who’s next? Take that Obama!”
President Obama – (who had warned the UK about the perilous implications of Brexit) “the UK remains our closest ally. God save the Queen!!”
Donald Trump: “MeXit is next, then after that, AmeXit is next. That’s right, we’re sending all our losers to Mexico! Bigly! I’m a huuuge counter-puncher, that I must tell you. They did it to us and now we must retaliate. What a beauty!”
Nigel Farage – (who recently was spotted stomping with his new bfpf Trump in Mississippi) “June 23 is the British Independence Day!! Yay!!!”
former PM Tony Blair – (yodeling) “no longer am I the most despised bloke in the kingdom! No mas! Hahaha, oooooooieeee!”
And the Referender? Btw, whereabout is he anyway? Oh, with Her Majesty.
It used to be said that the sun never set on the British Empire. At various times, the British had included the far reaches of Australia to India (back when India was India + Pakistan + Bangladesh) to Hong Kong to Jamaica to Nigeria, among several others. So you see boys and girls, it was always daytime somewhere in the vast empire. That was then. Nowadays, the British Empire exists only within the confines of its immediate surroundings. That is assuming the Referender is unsuccessful in his seemingly dogged bid to pull the plugs on the last bastion of a once sprawling empire.
Back at the Queen’s crib, there the Referender sat, sobbing in disgrace. Finally he raised his head and addressed the Queen as follows:
Referender: Your Majesty, I am deeply sorry for my miscalculation and I hereby submit my resignation.
HM: oh come off it you no good, dim wit, bed wetting, low life, scummy blood clot! Get the **k out of here!! You’re fired!
And the people said:
God save the Queen!!
God bless the Queen!
ECJ: Adieu Jo Cox. May your gentle soul rest in the Lord’s peace.
Charles Dickens: Much ado about nothing!
President Obama: Brexit was an episodic gaffe resulting from the fears generated due to the rapidity of demographic, cultural and social changes.
Trump: There’s something going on.
ECJ: Donald, can you please be a little more vague?
Trump: Well, if you look at what’s going on folks, you’ll see that there’s something going on. Tremendously unbelievable. And huge! And many people are talking about it. It’s a total disaster. That I must tell you! Bigly! Believe me!
Brighten your day.