Brexit, with warring headlines

Wednesday brings us clashing online stories. In one, the European Union had made a concession to Boris Johnson, agreeing to give the Northern Irish parliament veto power every four years on the Irish border backstop arrangement–but only if both the Catholic and Protestant communities agree to it. 

In another, talks between the EU and the UK had come to a halt. 

Other stories quote government sources as saying a deal is now impossible. 

All of that may be true, contradictory as it sounds. The problem with the Irish border arrangement is that Protestant politicians would predictably vote to end an arrangement that keeps Northern Irish customs aligned with the EU. It wants to align itself with Britain. And Catholic politicians would equally predictably vote to keep it, aligning etc. with Ireland and the EU. You can’t please both sides in this. So the EU may have made an offer and it may not work. If there’s a way to please both sides in this, no one’s found it yet.

Parliament will have a special sitting on Saturday October 19 to decide what happens next, and the prime minister and the Rebel Alliance (yes, they’re really called that, although they only align on opposing a no-deal Brexit–after that it begins to crumble) will wrestle for control of the agenda.  

In another story, Johnson and his advisors are “reportedly” ready to tell the queen that she can’t fire him, even if he loses a no-confidence vote in parliament, “a plan,” the paper says “ridiculed by lawyers and historians.” 

There are new rumors of cabinet resignations in the face of a no-deal Brexit, and also over the power of Johnson’s advisor, Dominic Cummings, but as of twenty seconds ago no actual resignations. 

On Monday the political editor of the Spectator went public with a 700-word text message from a “contact in Number 10,” a.k.a. the prime minister’s office. That’s presumably Dominic Cummings, who–the papers point out–doesn’t seem to understand how the EU works. He–let’s assume it’s Cummings; it lets us choose a pronoun, and pronouns may be in short supply if we crash out of the EU, so I don’t want to waste them–. 

Where were we? He–we got that far–threatens that any EU country that votes for an extension will go to the “back of the queue” both “within and outside EU competences.” Whatever that means. 

As threats go, this is riddled with problems. An extension has to be approved unanimously by the EU member states, otherwise there’s no extension. That means there will be no isolated member states to pick off. The UK would have to take on the entire EU. That’s is sort of like me wrestling the Incredible Hulk. Which I’d do, mind you. I’m a younger sister. I learned how to lose a fight with style. 

Next problem: that business of queues. Not all countries go meekly to the back of the queue when you tell them to. A queue is a line, for those of you who aren’t British. They’re deep at the heart of British culture. In fact, I lean toward thinking they’re the national religion. But not all countries believe in them. Some sharpen their elbows and push themselves up where they want to be. And since in addition to being a younger sister, I’m a native-born New Yorker, I say that without any disapproval. That’s just how it is, boychick–or whoever wrote the memo. Some of us know how to push and you don’t get to make the rules.

The memo also had a blanked-out threat having to do with security and defence. But those go through NATO, not the EU. And if a threat’s real, Britain might want the aid of larger neighbors. There may still be such a thing as the national interest.

The memo suggests that, contrary to half of what the government’s been saying, it will have to ask the EU for an extension beyond the end of the month. 

Why only half of what it says? In court, where it was hauled by a Scottish lawsuit (on hold until the political process plays out) and will now be hauled by a parallel English one (not yet heard), the government says it has every intention of complying with the law that says it has to ask for an extension. But outside of court, it still says Britain will be leaving on the 31st. 

Who should be believe? I’m reminded of a story about a man whose wife found him in bed with another woman. 

“Who’re you gonna believe,” he bellowed accusingly at her, “me or your own lyin’ eyes?”

I don’t know who to believe. My own lyin’ eyes are starting to spin in my head.

EU officials are increasingly convinced the Johnson’s proposal was written so that the EU would reject it and he could point the finger at them and say it’s all their fault that we couldn’t get a deal. 

Finally, the memo says Britain will be a disruptive EU member, but the first chance it will have to stick a spoke into the EU wheels will be in June, when it can veto the budget if it wants. Between now and then lies, almost inevitably, an election in Britain. I’m not making any predictions of how that’ll go in. But it doesn’t strike me as wise for anyone to be sure they’ll be in power then.



And just so Americans don’t feel left out of something to laugh and cry over, Trump, in announcing that he’s pulling troops out of northern Syria, leaving the Kurds to the gentle touch of the Turkish army, tweeted, “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

If I’d made that up, I’d delete it as being too ridiculous to go into print. Don’t reduce people to cartoon characters, I’d tell myself. Leave them some depth. Have a bit of subtlety.

That’s where reality will outdo me every time.


I’ve had to post this in a hurry. Hope it hangs together. If not, my apologies.

76 thoughts on “Brexit, with warring headlines

  1. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to try to keep up Ellen. I thought about trying to do it on my own blog but I don’t think I can write fast enough to keep up with (or out-ridicule) all the ridiculousness it’s generating.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Not tough enough… just killed it last night.
        Just can’t access any funny often enough at the moment.
        I don’t expect it’ll be long before I do another one though. Novemeber 1st looks favourite at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

          • No, hang on… I changed my mind… look, it was a bad day… turned the sign around to ‘Open’ again, just thinking a refit will do to spruce the place up now.
            Besides, there might be more customers when there’s nowhere else they can go and we can all sit around moaning about how good everything was in the old days.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, it was good then.

              Wait a minute, how old are those days? Maybe I wasn’t here. Maybe that’s why they were so good.

              Dog trainers, by the way–at least in the US–call that Old Shep syndrome. As in Old Shep never gave me as much trouble as this dog. Old Shep was perfect. He’d sit at the table and eat with a knife and fork, Old Shep would.

              Liked by 1 person

          • Grimes County is about 60 miles northwest of Houston – right where the Piney Woods start near Lake Conroe. Very rural, poor, agrarian economy until natural gas boom many years after my parents and I moved in 1959. Go figure.
            Anyway, it’s about as far away from Manhattan as the truth is from DT.

            Liked by 1 person

              • Amarillo is the real west Texas deal, but that’s like a different stratosphere from the bluebonnet east Texas side of the state. The one major similiarity of both sides, however, is the moral certainty that God and guns are the only way to heaven. I left the state for the first time when I was 21 but gave it a second chance when my mother got Alzheimer’s.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Can’t argue with that. Not that I would anyway. I’ve been in Texas a few times with Ida and it’s been–. Yeah. Interesting. I can’t think why, but I just wasn’t what her family had in mind. Although they were perfectly polite. Mind you, they were dying to know what “nationality” I was.

                Liked by 1 person

              • You actually just made me laugh out loud, and I don’t mean with small letters. West Texans would be too polite to make a comment.
                East Texans, on the other hand, like for example my uncle on my daddy’s side, aren’t nearly so nice.
                The first time my uncle met Pretty (who is very dark skinned), he pulled me aside and asked in a not very low voice, now just what is she – some kind of eye-talian or Mexican?
                Lordy, Lordy. I am still laughing at “nationality.”

                Liked by 1 person

              • We-ell, since you mention it, a few of Wild Thing’s relatives pulled her aside and “Oh, I thought maybe she was eye-talian” came up just after the nationality question. Wild Thing said I was Jewish and the great-aunt who’d done the asking said she’d thought so. The thought behind all that, I’m fairly sure, is that you don’t ask if someone’s Jewish because if they’re not, god knows, you’d have insulted them. What can I tell you? Or, better yet, where do I start? I’ve run into that a lot, since my last name isn’t Jewish. Maybe I’d still run into it if it was. It’s an attitude baked fairly deep into the cultural pie.

                While that was going on in the back yard, in the living room a different great-aunt was trying to pump me for information about a family fight and managed to drop the phrase “our Christian religion” into the conversation more times than I’d heard it in my life–or than I’ve heard it since. Presumably, she was waiting for me to rise to the bait and say, “Oh, that’s not my religion,” at which point she could be satisfying shocked. I watched the bait jig around and ignored it. If she wanted to know, I figured, let her ask.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Hilarious – I know those two great-aunts personally!!
                Well, dear, we’re all wondering if you have a boyfriend?
                Or better yet, Well, dear, we’re all just about to give up on you ever getting a man.
                My Southern Baptists would have opted for a man – even a Jewish man.
                Now, if I ran the world, none of this would matter to my family or Wild Thing’s or anyone else’s. Perhaps that would make things too easy. None of us would have to be trying to figure out who we don’t like…and why.
                Please don’t ever get me started. Pretty begs me to stop.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. The post hangs together perfectly, much more so than the circumstances you are describing. It just gets more stupid by the minute, but at least we can laugh at Numpty Trumpty in his great and unmatched wisdom, while our governments drive our countries off their respective cliffs.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “He–let’s assume it’s Cummings; it lets us choose a pronoun, and pronouns may be in short supply if we crash out of the EU, so I don’t want to waste them–“

    Very good 😊. A very informative and well written snapshot of the current saga

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good post. I believe it hangs together well. There are a lot of matters (lots of pronouns to chose from there) to work through to avoid an exit at the end if the month. If would like to know in Vegas has a line giving the odds. Probably odds are in favor of an exit his fall. BJ and pals seem to think that us the most likely outcome. You seem to indicate a suspicion that their hearts are in into working toward an extension. An inside job to sabotage the effort.

    I am still conceded that people there think the Queen has real power. I think that boat sailed long ago, then then I am in Georgia, the US Georgia, snd it is a long view from here to there.

    Trump’s language is somewhat insane but I agree with him on pulling the troops back and letting or ally and fellow NATO member Turkey occupy the north part of Syria.

    Insanity seems to be the pronoun of the day. Or is that a noun? Either way, it seems to fit.

    All the news over here is full of impeachment, and now Turkey. Nothing about England or UK.

    Is it time to discuss England become our fifty first state. California has thirty something million people, England fifty five million or so. They would be the largest by numbers. Or maybe become two states, North and South like the Carolinas and Dakotas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The proposal to allow Stormont a veto came from the U.K., given the need for consent from the N.I. representatives to any arrangement concerning the province.
    The E.U. did not care for the idea, given that Unionist parties were likely to veto the border arrangement after four years.
    It does not help that ‘Stormont has not sat for several years.
    I have a feeling that the reference to security and defence threat relates to agreements for a European ‘defence’ force….
    The whole thing has been a mess from the moment that Leave won…after all, everything was posited on a Remain vote so nobody who was anybody had a clue what to do next.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for another great synopsis of the chaos that is Brexit. Not knowing arses from elbows, entrenchment, and hypocrisy are not uncommon traits in politics but the devastating effects of this particular game of politics makes it more distressing than average. Between the appalling mess that is Britain and the horror that is the Trump administration here in the US, you and I need a third nation to claim us so we can flee there.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, fellow readers, Ellen DID NOT make up that Trump quote about his alleged “wisdom.”( She would never insult your credulity, even in the name of satire, I’d venture to guess. )
    But if the parties to Brexit (or not) need some defenders, maybe they can enlist the Kurds, who are suddenly cut adrift.
    “You couldn’t make this stuff up !”


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