Not With a Bong But With a Whimper

Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves

A Metafilter post on today’s main event.

Tonight, at midnight Brussels time, or 11pm UK time, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland formally leaves the European Union, entering a transition period of eleven months in which little will change in most people’s everyday lives, yet momentous changes will continue to take shape. The UK government is seeking to downplay the looming impact of 1 January 2021 by calling today the day they “Got Brexit Done”, mentioning transition as little as possible, and hoping that most voters will assume that Project Fear has been disproven and that anything that happens in 2021 is all the EU’s fault. But at least half of the UK knows otherwise, and parts of it are already making other plans.

Chris Grey provides an excellent reflection on the day and what led us here. Rafael Behr relates what having a heart attack taught him about Brexit. Tom Whyman attributes Brexit to the “where’s my elephant?” theory of history. Ian Dunt contemplates the long game for Remainers, though perhaps not long enough.

Brexiters, meanwhile, having failed to bung enough bobs for a Big Ben bong*, console themselves with dreams of destroying the EU itself, glorifying their spiritual leader, and farting in Europe’s general direction.

Brexit has already cost Britain more than all the money it has paid into the EU over 47 years. With no deal on 1/1/21 still a distinct possibility, we’ve barely scratched the surface. The UK isa woollen country about to be accidentally put in a hot wash”.

This is the way the world ends.

*Big Ben has been under repair, and getting it fixed in time would have meant that “the bongs cost £500,000… but we’re working up a plan so that people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”. A bob = one shilling = five new pence (for over-65s values of “new”). The government were apparently working up a plan for ten million people to donate 5p each to ring a bell once.

31 January 2020 · Politics

I couldn’t let the day go unmarked after all the posts I’ve spent on it. There are enormous efforts underway to move the goalposts and to keep moving them, so that Brexiters control the narrative. If we give up on our own narrative, they don’t only win this victory, they win again and again. As David Allen Green has pointed out, tonight’s departure discharges the mandate of the 2016 referendum, which changes the politics significantly.

Added by Rory on 31 January 2020.