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​BC-Exit from Brexit

THE ONLY person who could possibly be more fed-up of Brexit than me must be British Prime Minister Theresa May – and she, at least, is getting something out of it, even if only a pay cheque now and, in the near future, a far earlier retirement from political life than she’d planned. All Brexit is delivering to me is the kind of hazardous distraction you get when you’re driving 120 kph down a highway and a Jack Spaniard crawls at eye-height across the inside of your windshield; if that firetrucker stings you, it could mean death.

So now you have to keep one eye on the road and the other on the Jep.

And it wasn’t you who was dotish enough to let the stupid thing in; what kind of idiot rolls a car window down at 140kph?

Why did the English do this to themselves? And, more importantly, to me? Haven’t I enough to be depressed about with the execrable rise of Fat Nixon and the inexorable collapse of my own country, the West Indies? Is that not enough misery already seen by one reluctant witness? Do I look, to England, like I need to fret over their firetruckeries, too? (Despite the “Br” in “Brexit”, this is English, not British, foolishness: with 48 per cent of Wales, 56 per cent of Northern Ireland and 62 of Scotland voting to remain in the European Union, Brexit is at best an English-Welsh own goal.)

There is nothing remotely sensible about Brexit. It began in 2013 as a cowardly and dishonest dodge (and was never going to miraculously transform itself into something glorious and brave). To appease the small-but-solid, foreigner-hating segment of the Conservative base, then-Prime Minister David Cameron chose to punt down the political field and promised a referendum on leaving the EU. Like the election of Donald J Soprano in the USA, no one really expected the stupid side to win; the referendum’s architect, Cameron, personally a Remainer, had to resign when his side lost. (Or, put another way, after he shot himself in the head.)

Nobody was prepared for this level of idiocy.

Especially the people who voted for it.

The world – and I – watch in a kind of amused-bemused comic horror as Theresa May singlehandedly tries to juggle the multiple sharpened axes of Brexit, understanding perfectly that the best ending can only be multiple amputations. Jump high, jump low and shake your manifesto but there are two things that can never be changed, no matter how fervently people wish they could: first, Brexit can never return the Jacob Rees-Mooks and the Nigel Garbages to the glory days of the British Empire, when wogs knew their place – the Brexit they dream of can be achieved only with a time machine; and, second, Northern Ireland may declare itself to be British but the rest of Ireland is European and there will either be a hard border between the republic and the Six Counties on the island of Ireland, and a concomitant resurgence of the Troubles, or Ireland will be reunited. It would be hilarious if it weren’t tragic but the hard Brexiteer’s fantasy of returning to Britain’s colonial greatness will result in the nightmare of the loss of its single remaining colony (with due apologies to the Rock of Gibraltar, which is half a colony at best).

This is what happens when you make political decisions based, not on reason, but emotion. Hilariously – tragically – some of the most hardline of hard Brexiters are Pakistanis, or their descendants, who, having squeezed in through the cracks themselves, now want to keep everybody else out.

And this is why Brexit bothers me so much: it’s a reflection, on a much larger (if not grander) scale of the same kind of thoughtlessness – a commitment to avoidance of thought, rather than immersion in it – that has led Trinidad into the monkey pants in which it now finds itself.

People who benefit from membership of the European Union voting to leave it would be like a Trinidadian political party that campaigned against the waste and corruption of its opponent winning a general election and promptly adopting – perhaps even accelerating – the same waste and corruption.

Brexit shows, in a kind of a political magnifying glass, why Trinidad & Tobago will never extricate itself from pitfalls of its own making.

No matter how sincerely and fervently you hold a belief – such as, say, that the death of a Jewish carpenter gives you eternal life, or that a man or woman is going to be a great statesman merely because he or she is Indian/African/Colm Imbert – your fervent belief simply cannot change the reality.

There are decisions, such as leaving a political union or electing a political party, that should be arrived at only after careful analysis and clear reasoning; if people choose to make such decisions – which bring with them permanent, painful, perhaps disastrous consequences – on the basis of how they feel at one fleeting moment, they can be sure of only one thing: at some time in the future, they’re going to be firetrucked.

BC Pires is a never seer come to seer

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