Living in the Time(s) of Brexit

How long does a crisis take? The inhabitants of the United Kingdom, as well as international witnesses following the events (or lack thereof) of the past three years with a mix of Schadenfreude, bemusement or anxiety, may well be forgiven for asking themselves this question. Irrespective of sober quantitative forecasts of economic doom attendant on a ‘no deal’ exit from the European Union a growing number of people seem inclined to opt for the fanciful but compelling idea of a clean break, if nothing else to ‘get it over with’. When it’s not just the time of policy or planning, of budgets and bureaucracies, but of your everyday life and psyche that comes to be occupied by a political issue, the attractions of finality are considerable. A sense of this public mood, not to mention of the animal spirits of revanchist nationalism that often accompany it, lies behind Boris Johnson’s sub-Machiavellian strategy, hatched with his volatile advisor Dominic Cummings, to “move fast and break things” – things here meaning parliamentary sovereignty and constitutional customs. As that strategy falters – faced with legal challenges, parliamentary resistance and the transparency of its own bluff and bluster – life in the United Kingdom oscillates between a grinding, powerless sense of stasis and stagnation (Brexit never-ending) and the anxiety that protracted crisis will segue into catastrophe, on October 31 (what the more delirious irredentists fantasise as ‘independence day’) or sometime thereafter. Between the ongoing grind and the oncoming crash, one can also find excitement and distraction in the small events and pseudo-events that populate the time of Brexit: parliamentary rebellions, legal opinions, ministerial leaks, Tory expulsions, Labour resignations, or Johnson’s gaffes.

Read the whole post here. Many thanks to Mike Ma and the Social Justice Blog.

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