May’s result tonight was more than a stay of execution for herself. This was a stay of execution for the British union state. Brexit, as it works itself out, has a number of grimly inevitable conclusions. It will leave the United Kingdom poorer and in a long-term downward economic decline; a weight that will be disproportionately carried by the poorest. Social tensions will be stretched to breaking point, with a sharp increase in racism and race-related hate crime.
This deal will never pass through the Commons, meaning that the UK is – barring a miracle – headed for the hardest of all possible Brexits. Farage and Boris Johnson’s dreams have come true, and now the knives are out for the fall guy – Mrs May. Just now, as I write, the news is breaking that the Palace is in talks with the Cabinet Office. Reports from The Times are saying that the Conservative 1922 Committee has received its 48 letters, which means May’s tenure as PM and leader of the Tory party is about to be put to the vote.
The British government is expecting the entire UK economy to dive four times deeper over the 15 years after Brexit than it did during the last recession. Will it recover, we might ask, after those first 15 years are over? No. There is no reason to imagine it will. Removed from the wider European bloc, it is likely that over a protracted period the British economy will sink to a new normal. This much was predicted some time ago by arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg when he admitted that the recovery after Brexit may be 50 years down the line.
It comes as no surprise, then, when she speaks of “our national life,” that there is precisely no mention of Scotland or Wales in her proposal. This is also why she has the boldness to claim that the people of Britain are “looking to the Conservative Party to deliver.” No one in Scotland and Wales is looking to the Conservative Party to deliver anything. She is not talking about Scotland and Wales. This proposal she has made is in England’s national interest and this is why it is so concerned – with a characteristic lack of concern – with Northern Ireland.
Special status for Northern Ireland, which rejected Brexit, will be a slap in the face for Scotland – which also rejected Brexit. As the six counties do not have significant oil and gas resources and Scotland does, no such arrangement will be considered for the Scots. This cannot play out well for British unity. The majority of Scotland – including its unionist base – rejected Brexit, Holyrood has refused legislative consent to any deal that does not consider the interests of the Scottish voters, and those voters themselves know what’s best for them.
The use of emergency powers in the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit nightmare scenario will not look pretty. Such powers will focus on focal points of resistance, be that local communities like the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast (1971) and the Bogside in Derry (1972) or democratic institutions like the Dáil – the Dublin parliament (1919); using force of arms to bring the population to heel. This was the same playbook put into operation by the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will be the same or similar playbook that will be used to restore order in the UK after Brexit.
Many influential Brexiteers will be able to offset any negative effects of Brexit with their savings, shares, bonds, inheritances, and work expenses. This will be possible, of course, because their wealth has already been off-shored. Their wealth, under the protection of wealth management firms, is far away making money off of the backs of exploited workers, child labourers, and in some cases from arms sales in conflict zones and even from slavery. No matter how tough Brexit gets in the UK, people like Philip and Theresa May, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Boris Johnson will be fine.
Too many people in the UK seem incapable or unwilling to accept that all of this is a deliberate attack on ordinary people, a series of policies directed at soaking the wealth of society from the bottom to the top. Those who have died of starvation have died as the result of a policy which sees their deaths as nothing more that collateral damage. These same policies think just as little of the rest of us. Even how they speak of people – thinking here of Iain Duncan Smith’s “low value people” – betrays their vicious and avaricious contempt for human beings.