The bizarre news just keeps on coming.
On Wednesday, I learned that although one of the big complaints about the EU was the fishing quota, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has announced (now that the vote’s been taken) that fishing quotas aren’t likely to be any larger after a Brexit. “The reality is that most of our stocks are shared with other countries to some degree or another,” the organisation said.
I wonder if it would have made a difference if they’d said that before the vote. Quite possibly not. It’s not like a huge number of people make their living fishing anymore, but the fishing quota was a highly emotional issue that seemed to stand in for a lot of more amorphous resentments.
Also on Wednesday, Nigel Farage, the rubber-faced head of the U.K. Independence Party, which has been pushing for a way out of the EU for years, made a triumphant speech to the EU Parliament, telling them, among other things, that none of them had ever held a real job. Behind him sat Lithuania’s European Commissioner—a heart surgeon—holding his head in his hands.
And on Thursday? The Labour Party continued its self-inflicted meltdown, with MPs doing their best to publicly humiliate their elected leader. Meanwhile Boris Johnson, the leading Brexit campaigner and frontrunner for leadership of the Conservative Party, announced that he wasn’t in the race. Why? No idea. Speculation around here is that either (a) he’s trying to preserve his reputation by letting someone else figure out what to do next or (b) someone knows something juicy about him.
I’m not sure it’s relevant, but he and Michael Gove have been so close through this campaign that the shoulder seams on their suits were stitched together, and Gove’s wife accidentally sent an email that she meant for Gove to a member of the public instead.
Who forwarded it to the press. Who did what the press does and published it.
I’d like to break in here and remind everyone—and I speak as a fiction writer—that you really can’t make this stuff up. If you do, no one will read it. It’s too damned improbable.
What did she tell him? Among other things, not to sign on as a supporter of Boris’s campaign until he got a specific job offer.
Senior civil servants are worried that a new body to coordinate the Brexit strategy won’t have the expertise or the resources it needs. You’d think someone would’ve been exploring the possibilities long before the referndum, but apparently not. Instead they seem to have said, “Hey, if it happens we’ll just, you know, wing it.” Only they probably didn’t sound quite so American.
As Gary Younge points out in a long article on how this all happens, the country effectively lacks both a government and an opposition.
And finally, in a completely different country, the president of Belarus has urged citizens to “get undressed and work till you sweat.” Or maybe he told them to develop themselves and work till they sweat. According to the Guardian, in Russian develop yourselves sounds a lot like get undressed. My Russian, unfortunately, doesn’t include either get undressed or develop yourself, although I can say “hello,” “how are your grandparents?” (which might actually be great-grandparents; it’s all a little hazy), and “this is a beautiful day today” or something equally awkward involving day and beauty. None of which is even remotely helpful. It sounds massively improbable that the two phrases would sound so much alike, but take a look at what’s happening in Britain and you’ll see why I’m prepared to believe pretty much anything.
Anyway, citizens have started posting pictures of themselves naked at work with strategically placed work-related equipment. As one Instagram user said, “The president said this was necessary.”
Patriotism, my friends, takes many forms. As does protest. And satire? That’s only limited by the human imagination.