Rod Liddle

Brexit brings us endless little beakers of joy

1 April 2017

9:00 AM

1 April 2017

9:00 AM

The thing that got me about the photo-graph which prompted the Daily Mail’s harmless but now infamous headline ‘Never mind Brexit — who won Legs-it!’ was what I shall call the Sturgeon Lower Limb Mystery. In the photograph, the SNP leader seemed to be possessed of two slender and very long legs indeed. Whereas we know from television news footage that her legs are only seven inches long from her toes to that bit where they join the rest of her body. Walking to Downing Street for meetings, or being interviewed on the hoof by camera crews, Nicola Sturgeon usually resembles a slightly deranged Oompa–Loompa, or, as many have commented before, Janette Krankie. But if you tilt that photo of her with Theresa May, so she’s sort of standing upright, she’s an Amazon.

I have contacted the SNP about this apparent anomaly but, oddly, they have yet to get back to me. I suppose when they do they will insist it’s just the camera angle. But I suspect Ms Sturgeon is tired of unflattering comments about her legs and has taken to wearing some complex prosthetic device. Two titanium leg extensions with the join, where her proper toes are, shaped to look like knees. I think that is a little deceitful and I am sure the Scottish voters agree with me.

So, we are at last triggered. Almost every twist and turn of Brexit holds its own little beaker of joy and opportunity for schadenfreude. Last summer, the Tory Leave campaign was led by Boris Johnson, who one suspects really wished to remain in the EU. Now, Brexit is being pursued vigorously by a prime minister who was in favour of remaining.


And the official opposition is led by a man who clearly wished to campaign to leave but was prevented from so doing and now has to prosecute the Remain case with a very uneasy expression on his silly face. Prevented from being pro-Leave by a parliamentary Labour party whose most senior politicians — the Blairites especially — represent some of the most fervently pro-Leave constituencies in the country. The other irony being that some of those in Labour who campaigned for Leave — such as the admirable Kate Hoey — represent the most pro-Remain constituencies in the country. Never before have our politics been so hilariously muddled and counter-intuitive.

And then, just to add to the fun, there are those other two parties, the SNP and Ukip. The latter has almost ceased to exist and is now denuded of its only MP, something which — again, counter-intuitively, unless you have met Douglas Carswell — seems to have cheered them up enormously. Paul Nuttall’s party is still determined to make Brexit its key issue, despite the fact that its voters in the North and Midlands are far more bothered about immigration. And so it is in the position of yearning for the government to renege, backslide or water down the nature of our leaving, so that it might have a raison d’être once again, despite having had good cause to claim a singular success in that we are leaving at all.

The SNP, meanwhile, was propelled into power in Holyrood and into an unseemly number of seats in the House of Commons not because it is left-wing, but for many of the very same reasons which prompted people south of the border to vote Ukip and Leave and which are also behind the rise of the largely right-wing populist parties across Europe. Sturgeon’s legions offered patriotism and a clear sense of national identity, allied to a corrosive but justifiable disaffection with the establishment elite. And yet the party disdains the populism which occasioned its success because it considers itself to be relentlessly, drearily, grimly ‘progressive’, in the manner of a pancreatic tumour. And so, as the voters desert the party north of the border, it hunkers down into its only truly popular policy, a demand for independence from an aloof elite. It is becoming mono-maniacal, a kind of Ukip manqué except with ginger hair and very short legs. It deluded itself into thinking that its popularity stemmed from an inherently left-wing and liberal-minded public in Scotland but is now beginning to gather, as the Scottish Tories and the Liberal Democrats make inroads into its vote, that the best thing left to do is simply shout at an increasingly shrill pitch: ‘Out! Out!’ Its candle may be very brief indeed.

On the big issues of the day, and particularly Brexit and immigration, neither of the major parties are able to be clear about what they stand for, or even what they don’t stand for. The Liberal Democrats, God bless them, are pretty clear on both of those issues. And yet they are picking up new votes not so much in liberally minded Remain regions, but (as I mentioned before) from largely pro-Leave disaffected former Labour voters in the North and Midlands who can see that Ukip is a busted flush and need a conduit for their protests. But then it is hardly surprising that the electorate is becoming a little muddled in its thinking, given the dog’s dinner with which it has been presented.

Still, it is probably as well that the Conservative party chose as its leader a politician from the Remain camp, because otherwise it would currently be aping the behaviour of a nematode worm, which stabs itself to death with its own penis. And on the continental mainland there is not the remotest agreement between the unelected EU panjandrums and the nationally elected leaders about how to handle Brexit and what miseries might be extracted from us. Long may this confusion and anarchy reign, as it helps us no end. And no wonder that the addled old anarchist Johnny Rotten is pro-Brexit and pro-Ukip. He has got the very tumult he always yearned for and which is proving, at the very least, to be interesting.

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues


Show comments
Close