Everything You Need to Know about Brexit

Quick, before the Conservative Party announces our new Blusterer in Chief, here’s everything you need to know about Brexit and how we got tot his point:

Brexit starts in 2015, when David Cameron, as Britain’s prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party, makes an election promise to hold a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union. This is smart politics. Isn’t Davey a clever boy? After the election, he’ll be back in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and they’ll veto the referendum and that means he won’t have to throw himself, his party, and his country, out the fifth-story window labeled Brexit. But he’ll have shut up the Leave voices in his own party, the Leave voices in the U.K. Independence Party, and the Labour voices rumbling at him from the far side of the House of Commons and saying things he doesn’t pay attention to but that get on his nerves anyway.

Irrelevant photo to give you some relief from an otherwise grim picture: a field with corn marigolds.

Then the election’s held and his party wins a majority. Who knew so many people liked him?

Wave bye-bye to the nice coalition, Davey, because it’s going away.

Davey edges close enough to that fifth-story window and looks down. It’s a long way to the ground.

What’s a clever politician to do? He schedules the referendum and tells the country that it’s safer, stronger, and much better looking in Europe, so it should vote Remain. He promises to limit immigration by widening the Channel and to make the sky a tasteful and long-lasting shade of blue using paint from Farrow and Ball, which is what people with any kind of taste at all buy.

Remain loses. Britain will be leaving the E.U.

Why does Britain vote Leave? Because leaving will make Britain great again. Because it will let Parliament take back control. Because Rupert Murdoch said it was a good idea. Because Facebook is fun.

Davey resigns the leadership of his party and with it the prime ministership, and he retreats to a shed in his backyard, which being British he calls his garden.

What he calls a shed is nicer than some people’s apartments. Which he’d call flats.

He starts writing a book. He waits for someone to ask what it’s about but no one does. They’re focused on the window he left open. Several prominent Conservatives are writhing on the floor in front of it, trying to stab each other. The winner will get to lead the party and find a way from window to ground. One that doesn’t break bones. Or that does. The referendum didn’t say that no bones could be broken.

Theresa May emerges as leader of the party, largely because no one thought she was worth stabbing.

What, the press asks her while the other contenders lie bleeding at her feet, is Brexit going to mean.

“Brexit,” she says, “means Brexit.”

Yes, but what does it mean?

It means Brexit.


Negotiations between Britain and the E.U. begin. The E.U. negotiators spread papers and studies and printouts on the table. The British negotiators set Etch-a-Sketch pads in front of them.

Time passes. Terri May calls an election, which will prove that, um, remind me, what will it prove? That the country backs her. That’s it.

That’s probably it. Also because it will increase her majority in Parliament.

She loses her majority and is held in place (the place in question being 10 Downing Street) only by duct tape and a small Protestant party from Northern Ireland.

A lot of time passes. According to the rules of the game, only so much time can pass before Britain has to go out that window, whether the two sides have managed to build a ladder or not.

An agreement is announced.

Everyone hates the agreement. Even the people who support the agreement hate the agreement. Britain’s negotiator resigns because he hates the agreement he negotiated.

Britain’s Parliament also hates the agreement, so Theresa May goes back to Europe to change the part of the agreement that talks about the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It’s the only part of the agreement she can let herself think about.

The E.U. says it’s tired of talking to Britain.

Britain is also tired of talking to Britain. The Conservative Party can’t agree on what it thinks Brexit should be. It can’t agree on whether Brexit should happen. A group of backbenchers ask, “Wouldn’t it be simpler if we just closed the window?”

No one listens to them.

The Labour Party also can’t agree on what Brexit should be or whether it should happen, although it does agree that Brexit shouldn’t be what Theresa May negotiated. If that sounds like it’s more united than the Conservatives, it’s not. It can’t agree on whether it’s a socialist party, whether its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, should be its leader, or whether it’s doing enough–or anything–to combat anti-Semitism in its ranks.

It also can’t agree on the definition of anti-Semitism.

It does agree that the Conservative Party is anti-Muslim, but no one wants to talk about that so it wanders around mumbling to itself that it’s not anti-Semitic, really it’s not, but no one’s listening.

The Liberal Democrats agree that Brexit’s bad. Unfortunately, after their coalition with Davey, only three of them are left in the Commons.

Or maybe that’s twelve. Or eight. Does it matter?

The Scottish National Party is united: Brexit is bad. The Green Party’s also united, but it only has one MP, which isn’t enough for a decent split.

MPs leave the Labour Party.

MPs leave the Conservative Party.

They form a group that isn’t a party and fend off arguments about what they’d stand for if they did become a party by discussing the weather. Then they do become a party, adopting the name of an online petition group that they’re not associated with. They pass a resolution about the weather.

The online petition group objects.

Theresa May promises Parliament a meaningful vote on Brexit.

She promises Parliament a later meaningful vote on Brexit. But before that can happen, she has to go to Europe to negotiate an even better deal than the existing deal even though the E.U. has said there’s nothing left to negotiate. Many people–which is to say, me and possibly one other person–suspect she goes in and out of offices asking if they have any coffee made. She’s too English to ask if they’ll make some just for her.

When they do have some on hand, she sips it slowly while reading a magazine, since no one will talk to her. She drinks it black, because no one asks if she’d like milk.

If she drinks enough coffee, time will run out. Hickory, dickory, dock, Terri May ran out the clock. Parliament will look out the window and vote for her ladder because it’s five floors down and no one else has made so much as a rope out of torn sheets.

She lets the House of Commons vote on the deal she’s negotiated and it loses. She moves all the commas three words to the right and lets it vote again. Why? Because three is an important number in fairy tales. Three wishes. Three chances. Three brothers.

Hell, it’s as good as anything else going on.

It still loses.

To see if it can’t find a rational way out of the crisis, the House of Commons asks itself a series of questions: Should we leave the EU without a deal? Should we hold a second referendum? Should we drag Britain 50 miles to the west and whenever we pass the E.U. in the Channel pretend we don’t see it?

No proposal wins a majority. TV newscasters are mandated to use the phrase no one knows how this will play out at least once in every program. They use the phrase constitutional crisis almost as often.

Why is it a constitutional crisis? Because Britain has an unwritten constitution. This means that no one really knows what’s in it. It may prevent Theresa May from making herself the country’s second Lord Protector (Oliver Cromwell was the first) but it will be years before anyone’s read through enough papers to know for sure.

Isn’t this fun? We’re watching history being made.

Terri May promises to resign and dance the rhumba the length of Downing Street if the Commons will only pass her deal. She promises to delete every comma in the agreement. By hand. In glittery green ink.

Water floods into the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. A group climate-change protesters take off most of their clothes show the MPs their backsides.

All the possible jokes about both incidents have already been made.

Theresa May goes back to Brussels and drinks the Kool-Aid.

No, sorry, that was Jonestown and an American reference, not a British one. She drinks more coffee and is granted another extension. It expires on Halloween of 2019. All the possible jokes about that have been made that too.

A person can drink so much coffee and eventually Theresa May resigns, leaving the Conservative Party to search for a new leader. Every Conservative MP announces his or her candidacy. Every third one confesses to having used drugs. The ones who haven’t used them express regret at having misread the spirit of their age.

In the interest of democracy, several of the candidates promise to suspend Parliament so they can fulfill the will of the people.

After a series of elimination votes, the two candidates are Boris Johnson and Not Boris Johnson, but they seem to have agreed that Boris will win and Not Boris will have a nice job in his cabinet.

What happens next? Nothing good, I suspect, but that’s history for you: It’s one damn thing after another.

109 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know about Brexit

  1. Ellen, laughter is still the best medicine and no doubt there are many there whose pill consumption, and other methods of dealing, have increased. As bad as it may be, at least we are away from cheeto-head tRumpty dumpty and his cabal. The Cosa Nostra of North America…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dear Ellen,
    thank you so much for your unique synopsis! It is great to see this all unfolding in fast forward mode generously spiced with your humour.
    When we had this president that took bribes in Germany I coined the phrase: Every country gets the leader it deserves. I don´t think Britain deserves Boris Johnson though…
    I am going to share this article on facebook. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 3 people

      • Self interest does help to explain a lot of things, especially in politics. It’s amazing the amount of damage a relative minority can do if their in positions of influence. Just look at the obstinate, backward GOP Senate here in the States.

        Liked by 1 person

          • When it’s “my interests versus the common good” that makes sense. In 1984 college students had the chance to vote against Reagan (cut student aid) or against Mondale (opposed school choice), and I’m proud to say that masses of us voted against Mondale. Because we had jobs by then, whereas some of us had younger siblings who desperately needed school choice.

            When it’s “my immediate interests versus my short-term interests,” otoh…In 2016 Trump was the candidate who didn’t ask people for money, until such time as the other R’s conceded the polls, whereupon I think the same people who’d been asking for money in the other candidates’ names all started asking in the names of Trump and his adult children.

            How that kind of campaign dynamics relates to any aspect of British history would be interesting to know.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Working from the bottom up: British election campaigns are far, far shorter than American ones, and less expensive–partly because they’re shorter but partly (I think) because they don’t allow TV ads. Parties do get TV time, but I think it’s treated as a public service and not paid for. That means that even the minor, minor parties appear. I remember watching a spot from the Yogic Flying party. We were in hysterics, although they weren’t trying to be funny, I’m not sure how much that has to do with your comment about campaign dynamics, but it’s what comes to mind. If it’s irrelevant, apologies. You know what I’m like.

              As for the school thing. I do understand what you’re saying, but for me the issue’s of what the common good is is a lot more complicated. School choice did, without question, benefit some people. It also worked in places to keep schools segregated. And cutting student aid put college out of reach or made it more difficult for some–possibly many–students.


  3. What happens next? Boris changes his attitude again, goes to Bruxelles, drinks there also a lot of coffee and eats enormous amounts of the famous Belgium pommes frittes together with Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk. Afterwards they jointly decide to close the tunnel under the Channel so that the British people are living again on a real island like in the good old days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can’t rule anything out, but I think he’s getting too much traction out of his current attitude to change it. It’s still possible that Parliament will throw itself in front of the wheels and stop a hard Brexit, but I don’t recommend putting any large sums of money on that. If pommes frites will save us, though, bring on the pommes frites.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. At this stage I just want the Queen to step in and take back control.

    I suspect there is some law that says she can’t but who is going to stop her really…

    Until then I am going to talk about how stupid it all is whilst being able to do nothing about it. That and hide and write about otters…

    Liked by 4 people

  5. As always a brilliant – and highly amusing in a tragic kind of way – outline. But you did forget one thing – the bit where Teri May decides she needs to increase her majority so calls an election. It doesn’t work and once again the Liberals don’t come to the rescue. Instead she has to pretend to be friends with a bunch of Irish bigots who believe God will lift them up when they jump out of that window.. No wonder she seeks refuge in that manic jig!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is extremely funny. As someone or other once remarked, “if you didn’t laugh, you would cry!”.

    Its ironic and sad that a forward looking and pragmatic Conservative, Sir Edward Heath took the UK into the EEC (now the EU) and its now that same party which is trying to pull us out of it. Lots of the EU’s policies are in accordance with Conservative doctrines (we where, with Lord Cockfield) largely responsible for the Single European Market. Yet its the great party of Disraeli, Churchill etc which is now acting in a very unconservative way by wishing to jetison something which, on the whole works extremely well and to the benefit of the UK.

    As an aside, my thesis for my MA in political theory was entitled “An Analysis of British Conservative Attitudes to the EU”. This was penned back in the early 1990’s and a copy still sits on my bookcase!


    Liked by 1 person

        • Their anti-slavery days were long behind them, even in my childhood. I won’t credit them with that in living memory, but they were, at least, not Trumpian. But the party seems to have capitulated entirely to him.


      • That was in the 1960s. Now R’s actively seek and promote minority candidates, and the 2016 front-runners were Cruz (looks White, born in Canada, but has a Spanish name) and Carson (definitely Black). And the last four presidential elections have involved at least one R woman.

        That was the good news. The bad news is that the “R’s are racists” meme is now based on a working definition of racism as “opposed to what the D’s minority-group spox claim their groups need.” In other words listening to non-D minority-type Americans is now racist…

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’d have to disagree with a lot of that. Having a member of a disempowered group in office or as a candidate isn’t the same as promoting that group’s interests. Some will and some won’t. Being a member of a group doesn’t mean you speak for the group. As for the Republicans, from what I read, there’s a lot of systematic tinkering by the Republican Party that has the effect of minimizing the black vote, which further disempowers the group. Whether they do it because they don’t like black people or whether they do it because they figure they’ll vote for Democrats doesn’t matter. The effect is racism.


  7. That was a clear and concise explanation of the unexplainable, thank you. Now… can you explain what the hell happened on my side of the pond, because the US is down the rabbit hole of crazy as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hickory dickory dock, Terri May ran out the clock followed by
    There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many MPs she didn’t know what to do…
    So far my favorite part of the Brexit post is the lovely picture of the field with corn marigolds.
    As for constitutional crises, we have those every morning whenever the commander in chief begins his day with a racist tweet. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, Terri May had so few MPs she didn’t know what to do. She doesn’t have a majority–she’s cobbled together a very thin and very fragile one with the support of a small Northern Irish party. But yet, good points (and poetry) all around.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dont forget the £350 million for the NHS.

    The one thing I found very amusing, was places like Cornwall who voted to leave overwhelmingly, then when they figured out what that actually meant, demanded the government put in place something which meant they were still getting the same amount that they were getting from the EU.

    I am still hoping if Boris gets in, his ego will rule his head and they will call a general election, but since Labour still haven’t made their minds up I am unsure who would actually get in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cornwall–which gets, or got, a huge amount of EU support–voting leave is mystery. What Boris will do if he gets in is another mystery. A general election sounds good, but my fear is that whoever gets in will have the thing collapse on their head and get the blame.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I know. I’ll give you a handful of reasons and you can choose the ones you like: 1. Once he lost the referendum, he got out of the way and has kept a low profile, so he’s been out of the public eye. 2. It’s always easier to blame a woman than a man. 3. She has a tin ear and a gift for saying the wrong things in the wrong way. 4. All of the above.

          Liked by 1 person

              • I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t work up any sympathy for her. It’s a job she wanted, even though she started out supporting remain (if I remember correctly). It was all about ambition–as it is for most of the politicians we’ve got at the moment–not about what would be good for the country. And in the Home Office, she was horrible. She was the person who introduced the hostile environment that’s ruined so many people’s lives. Admittedly, any failure comes down heavier on women than on men, but I can’t defend her.

                Liked by 1 person

              • She was indeed a remainer, which made it even “funnier” that she was a remainer leading a leave party and Corbyn is a Leaver running what I thought was a remain party.

                I completely agree with giving her no sympathy, I think I am right in saying she is the person responsible for the windrush situation as well.

                Her party are destroying so many lives, but I don’t think she would have gotten half as much flak if she was a man. I am reasonably certain that someone like Rees-Mogg is against her purely because she doesn’t have a penis

                Liked by 1 person

              • I’m sure you’re right about her not getting half as much grief if she’d been a man. You’re also right about the spelling of flak. Damn, I hate being wrong about that. I suspected I was spelling it wrong but was too lazy to look it up.

                And yes, she is responsible for the Windrush mess.

                Liked by 1 person

              • LOL its rare I get spelling right.

                Its going to be an interesting time for the UK over the next 3 years or so. I can only hope that Labour or Lib Dems, start being more impressive so we have a decent opposition and then hopefully government

                Liked by 1 person

              • I really hope so, but after the Lib Dems went into coalition with the Conservatives and sold out the NHS, I’m not putting any hopes on them. Can Labour get its act together? I really hope so.

                Liked by 1 person

  10. Enjoyed reading the post. No, enjoy is not the right word. Let’s just say it was well written and worth reading. One of my friends used to quote somebody who said England always muddles through and their will always be an England. Don’t think it was Churchill. Carry on, then. Stiff upper lip. Tomorrow will be another day. Oops, that was Scarlett and she was Irish and French. Always wondered why she never got credit for being half French. I will worry about that tomorrow. If I think about it today I will go crazy.
    But I feel much better informed.
    I now go to see my five year old granddaughter get a certificate for something grand.
    Good week to all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There may always be an England (that’s actually part of a song) but that doesn’t mean all will be well with it.

      I’m sure that whatever your granddaughter did, it was wonderful.


  11. If it wasn’t such a serious topic I would laugh but then I did smile at your take on Brexit and of course all the comments…Why did I retire here? Ahhh I know…wall to wall sunshine, great food and any opposing politicians disappear…Poof! Gone! The junta reigns…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Four months after we were supposed to leave, not one single person on this planet knows if Brexit will happen, let alone how or when. Thankyou for the laugh. The whole mess has taken up way too much time and brain and it distresses me greatly. I’m particularly upset the next deadline is Halloween, as it’s our anniversary and that will proper ruin it for us! I need you to do a post about the Kool-Aid thing, as I keep seeing references but don’t know the story behind it. I’m writing this Sunday afternoon and think next week will be full of surprises. I don’t think any of them will be good 🙄. Brace yourselves Everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am afraid my eyes sort of glazed over as I read the post, I must admit. The important thing to consider is probably how many loo rolls and chocolates you have hoarded for the frightening world emerging on Halloween? Pet food would be on my list as well. Anything else besides useless medicines you might store up on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The last time we seemed to be on the brink, we stocked up on cat and dog food and some of those boxes of milk that keep forever. And an extra package of oatmeal. One friend said she’d bought 7 cans of tomatoes. Another stocked his shed with baked beans and cans of tomato soup. It all seems pretty whimsical, doesn’t it? We haven’t a clue what to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “We’re watching history being made.”
    Indeed so. Very often, these days, I catch myself musing about how fascinating it would be to have a time-machine, which could show me the future 10 years from now…
    The one I am sitting in currently is kind of broken – it is one-way only and quite slow… :D

    Liked by 1 person

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