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When Lear's daughter Cordelia refuses to play along with his narcissistic demands for flattery, he asks what more she has to say. "Nothing, my lord." The word bounces back and forth between them, uttered five times in four lines. Lear warns that "Nothing will come of nothing". He does not yet know what he is saying: that this dark non-thing will grow and grow until it blots out everything - all meaning, all possibility, all of the future.

Brexit is nothing. It was always a negative proposition. Most British leaders, even those who wanted to stay in, never created for their people any positive vision of the European Union. It was spoken of grudgingly and engaged with defensively. The Remain campaign in 2016 essentially presented staying in as the lesser of two evils: the EU is bad but leaving it would be even worse. And David Cameron's egotistical capriciousness allowed the Leave campaign to offer a pure negative: vote for what you don't want (EU membership).

It was not required to put forward any clear sense of what would happen after it won. It pointed to the exit sign but shed no light on what lies outside the door. Insofar as it offered any vision - £350 million a week for the NHS, sunny uplands, global Britain, easiest deal ever, have cake/eat cake, Brexit means Brexit - it was a thing of airy nothing.

And nothing does in the end come of nothing. Three years ago, very few of the Brexiteers, let alone those who voted for them, really imagined that Britain would simply leave the EU with no agreement on a future relationship. Few suggested that affiliation would be anything other than close. Yet here we are now with both contenders for the leadership of the Tory party, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, proposing a no-deal Brexit as a serious possibility that must be kept on the table. The lunatic fringe of 2016 is now at the centre.




Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 3rd, 2019 at 10:05:55 AM EST
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