That’s it for Brexit then. Papers signed, flag fluttering in Whitehall consigned to a museum in Brussels. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, it’s only the decree nisi. The absolute is just beginning.
‘I love you both and it will be pure H-E double L for me. Oh, I wish that we could stop this D-I-V-O-R-C-E.’
Dolly Parton’s song of sixty-eight laments the custody tragedy of a shared child, but doesn’t elaborate on the causes of the marriage breakup. Had hubby been unfaithful? We’re not told.
One man’s sex drive, however, was clearly the driving force behind another seismic shift in Britain’s place in Europe, that historians say was comparable to Brexit.
The English Reformation – Britain’s break with the church of Rome and the political structure of much of Europe – had its stirrings in Henry 8th’s codpiece.
He fancied the pants off Anne Boleyn, but the only way he could get shot of the existing missus was to lose the Pope.
But one divorce can lead to another. And be a pain in the neck. Ask Anne. Or Catherine Howard. And look sharp about it.
No rush, however, for England to find it’s accidentally parted ways with Scotland and Northern Ireland. But it’s a space to watch.
‘There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now.’
That quote from Hamlet ends up saying hold on to your hats, folks, it’s on its way.
Of course, it may well not be. But north of the border, and across the Irish Sea, the majority of people voted to remain within the European Union.
Which is why the Scottish First Minister believes she’s finally in with a chance of getting a second independence referendum, and actually winning it.
It’s also why, for the first time, there’s polling evidence that a majority of people in the north of Ireland have finally come round to wanting to team up with the south.
There may be trouble ahead in that neck of the woods anyway, thanks to Bojo’s final acceptance of demands from Dublin and Brussels that the province remains aligned to the EU’s regulatory framework.
With a three-hundred-miles-plus border between the two parts of Ireland, that bit of rejigging was the only way to swerve the physical infrastructure that could’ve been a handy target for militant nationalists.
But treating Ulster differently from mainland Britain also gets the goat of hardline unionists. Hence the gradual shift of opinion in the province towards towards getting Irish unification done.
Too many people really have died in ditches over the years for anyone to want to go back to the so-called ‘troubles’.
Meanwhile, our ever-optimistic prime minister promises, in Brexit, a new dawn.
As the last rites were being pronounced over our membership of the EU, he told the nation ‘this is not an end but a beginning… the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act.
‘It is a moment of real national renewal and change.’
A moment of national reconciliation, however, may not be quite upon us yet.
The polling guru Professor Sir John Curtice points out that surveys over the last couple of years have shown there’s a small but consistent majority in favour of remaining in the EU.
So Brexiteers’ bonfires lit in celebration over the weekend were also funeral pyres for the hopes of a slightly larger number of Remainers. Happy days? Not.
Your correspondent covered the referendum that took Britain into Europe nearly half a century ago.
The evening ended with staffers on the ITN newsdesk, stroking the beards that chaps always sported back then, and wondering if the nay-sayers would take it lying down.
We now know the answer to that. Though it begs the question whether the yay-sayers will, likewise, beaver away to get us back in.
Much might depend on how the next few months pan out. And, so far, the signs aren’t that good.
Without our trading partnership with Johnny Foreigner across The Channel, we’re looking across the Atlantic instead.
There, Orange Man in White House wants everyone to be first among equals. So long as they’re American, obvs.
Witness our giving the Chinese high-tech company Huawei the go-ahead to build bits of infrastructure for our super-duper new 5-G network.
Will they pass on our state secrets to their bosses in Beijing? Will they one day start crashing driverless cars, disabling power supplies, and telling us to buy milk when we don’t need it?
British spymasters and pointy-heads say no. The Donald says no way can we do this.
Perhaps we should trust him. After all, he’s dismissed the impeachment process he faces as a witch-hunt. And the rape charge levelled against him by a respected and senior journalist? Fiction.
Bit of pussy-grabbing, as he puts it? Hey, guys, what’s not to like about that?
A detail he seems somehow to have overlooked, however, in his drive to drive the Chinese economy into the buffers, is the fact that Huawei is already doing stuff in our telecoms network.
These guys have been embedded here since the early noughties, working on the 4G as well as the 5G network. Ripping it all out would cost billions. And alternatives are more expensive, and less ready.
Seems this makes no odds to The Donald. Maybe the man’s missed his calling. Tabloid scribblers are always taught ‘never let the facts stand in the way of a good story’. Yee-haw!
And back in Blighty, there’s another inconvenient truth on the horizon.
Our jolly old home-grown Bank of England has done a bit of post-Brexit number-crunching.
Boris Johnson, now hard at work on the decree absolute terms of our Euro- divorce, reckons we can get it all sorted nicely by the end of the year.
He seems to be in a minority of one there, but even if he is the one squaddie in step, the next bit will be pants, say the bank.
Their Monetary Policy Report, produced the day before the UK gave the EU the heave-ho, puts Britain’s long-term growth potential at roughly half of what it was before the referendum.
No scenario here, not even a worst-case scenario. Just the Bank’s standard assessment of what’s going to happen.
Money money money? It’s a rich man’s world? Who cares if it’s the Yanks getting the lion’s share? We got Brexit done. Taken back control.
And there’s more good news. Eeyore’s a bore. Banished from Hundred-acre Wood. In his place someone much nicer from across The Pond.
Remember Jennifer Arcuri? The American tech entrepreneur ghosted by Boris when she started making things awkward over their friendship during his time as London Mayor?
Well, she reckons she’s the answer to the prayer offered up by his new bestie, Dominic Cummings. The one about getting ‘weirdos and misfits’ into Downing Street to sort things out.
In an article in the Daily Mail, she refers to the ‘lessons’ she used to give her old chum in her pole-dancing kitted-out flat.
‘I remember Boris fondly applauding my ability,’ she gushed. ‘As I always used to tell the Prime Minister, now is the time to Get Excited.’
Hmmm. Overpaid, oversexed and over here in a jiffy, at Bozzie Bear’s side. Cool? Carrie?
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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