End is nigh for Brexit

The New European - - Agenda - An­drew Ado­nis

I don’t have di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence, but from my in­creas­ingly fre­quent ob­ser­va­tion as a 55-year-old, there is no such thing as a ‘good death’. Just death, which is al­ways hor­ri­ble and some­times hor­ren­dous in its fi­nal stages. Brexit is no ex­cep­tion.

We are clearly in the death throes. Mor­bid symp­toms are over­whelm­ing. The ‘last chance’ op­er­a­tion had to be can­celled be­fore Christ­mas be­cause the pa­tient wasn’t well enough.

There were hopes that Dr Merkel would of­fer a more favourable sec­ond opin­ion af­ter the coun­try GP, Jean-Claude, and the in-house sur­geon, Barnier, pro­nounced the case hope­less. A big at­tempt was made to per­suade Theresa, the adop­tive par­ent with power of at­tor­ney, to trans­fer poor Brexit to a hospice with the at­trac­tive name ‘Peo­ple’s Hope’.

But it came to noth­ing. Like her men­tor Mar­garet Thatcher dur­ing the long ag­o­nis­ing demise of her favourite child, Poll Tax, Theresa sim­ply can’t let go of Brexit. She con­tin­ues to dream that a new cure will ap­pear from Ger­many, so the op­er­a­tion has been resched­uled for Jan­uary 15. But Dr Merkel is so busy try­ing to re­sus­ci­tate her close friend Em­manuel that she has no time or in­cli­na­tion to help.

Any­way, the cause is hope­less. Brexit’s vi­tal or­gans are ceas­ing to func­tion. The orig­i­nal pre­scrip­tions on the side of a bus – no­tably ‘£350m a week for the NHS’ – were long ago aban­doned. An ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment tried last au­tumn – ‘Ir­ish back­stop’ – has had ap­palling side ef­fects, in­clud­ing delu­sions of an in­va­sion of or­ange men with VAS­SAL and MOGG em­bla­zoned on front and back.

The ques­tion now is what to do af­ter Jan­uary 15, as­sum­ing the pa­tient does not die im­me­di­ately. There is some chance that Theresa will trans­fer Brexit to the Peo­ple’s Hope hospice af­ter all, which would be best for all con­cerned. The hospice’s two liv­ing rooms, called ‘sec­ond ref­er­en­dum’ and ‘ex­tend Ar­ti­cle 50’, are loud and bois­ter­ous. No one pre­tends that the end will come peace­fully. But at least there will be no more op­er­a­tions and Theresa and her fam­ily can soon get on with their lives, in­clud­ing the in­creas­ingly ur­gent task of earn­ing money and pay­ing bills af­ter so long on com­pas­sion­ate leave.

The prob­lem is what hap­pens if Theresa still re­fuses the hospice. There is much de­bate about whether the nurses, led by Ham­mond and Lid­ing­ton, will use mor­phine, while ev­ery­one turns a blind eye. But the whole is­sue might end up again in the High Court of Par­lia­ment, where em­i­nent lawyers like Do­minic Grieve and Sir Keir Starmer are likely to press the case for Brexit’s trans­fer to Peo­ple’s Hope be­ing taken out of Theresa’s hands be­cause of di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Un­cle Jeremy is a prob­lem here. He is cu­ri­ously fond of his adop­tive niece Brexit, hav­ing played a large part in her child­hood, al­though his­tor­i­cally the two branches of the fam­ily were es­tranged. But an­other un­cle, John Mac, is in­creas­ingly forth­right on the need to end the suf­fer­ing. He has started hold­ing se­cret con­sul­ta­tions with Sir Keir and oth­ers, and is likely to present Jeremy with a fait ac­com­pli, sup­ported by the wider Labour part of the Bri­tan­nia fam­ily which can’t see any point in de­lay­ing the in­evitable.

The prob­lem for Theresa isn’t only the han­dling of Brexit’s fi­nal days but also her obit­u­ar­ies and fu­neral. Usu­ally these ease the pain at the end, on the prin­ci­ple de mor­tuis nil nisi bonum (‘of the dead noth­ing but good’).

But of Brexit, who went so badly astray in her last two years in par­tic­u­lar, al­most no one has a good word to say. Theresa, like Scrooge at Mar­ley’s fu­neral, may be the sole mourner. And even she may be too ill to at­tend.

How­ever, all is not lost. I have seen a copy of Brexit’s will. It gives ex­plicit in­struc­tions that there are to be no fu­neral or eu­lo­gies. “I re­alise I have been a cause of much pain and grief,” it reads. “But I am part of a proud and pros­per­ous Euro­pean fam­ily. I know I was a rebel but the truth is that through this se­vere ill­ness we all came to re­alise that, af­ter all, Eu­ro­peans are a good and wise peo­ple. I want my friends and re­la­tions to be rec­on­ciled to them and make the best of their lives.”

Amen. Hal­lelu­jah.

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