It’s been hard to disentangle my thoughts about the week from the events of the country and the wider world, and even harder to get through the work I’m supposed to be doing instead of writing posts here. Trying to keep on top of a full-time job from home, with two school-age kids and a partner also working full-time and all the other constraints and tensions of lockdown, is like trying to juggle the contents of the computer cable drawer while walking calmly across the room. You’re lucky to get a few feet before stepping on a three-pronged plug.
Nothing I’ve read in the past two months has changed my suspicion of early March that the UK government would use the pandemic as cover for refusing to request an extension to the Brexit transition period and ending it on 1 January 2021 without a deal. When everything’s shit, it’s too easy to smuggle in an extra steaming pile of shit.
Merkel ally warns that the UK will need to extend the Brexit transition. What Northern Ireland’s businesses need to have in place by the end of the year is daunting. EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan thinks that the UK will blame a hard Brexit on COVID-19. “The Conservatives are embracing the timing with the sweaty gratitude of a guy who knows that the unfortunate fire at a storage unit facility will take care of the corpse he’s been storing there.”
It’s almost a month since I last posted any coronavirus links here, so I should do something with the dozens I’ve accumulated before events overtake them.
The odds of No Deal at the end of 2020 have shortened considerably in the past week or two, even if the government is refusing to call it that. It’ll be more or less certain if we pass 30 June with no UK request to extend transition, but given the tone of current government rhetoric it’s already the way to bet. Why would Johnson sacrifice his reputation among Leavers by accepting a compromise deal when he can look tough by rejecting one? (The major betting sites don’t seem to have this on their radar at the moment. All they’re taking bets on is when the UK will rejoin the EU and which country will leave it next.)
I saw in 11 p.m. last night by watching Rocketman. In hindsight, it seems appropriate to have been watching a movie about someone who started out full of talent and promise, grew insanely rich, spent a few years going off the deep end in a coke-fuelled frenzy, and ended up in rehab.