Some men just want to watch the world burn
In a pivotal scene from ‘The Dark Knight’, Batman asks The Joker what seems to be in hindsight a rather silly question — “why do you wanna kill me?”. The Joker, cackling at the very idea responds “why would I wanna kill you? what would I do without you, go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, you COMPLETE me”. And Batman realizes that what the Joker actually wants is to live out the endless cycle of beatdowns, arrests, jailbreaks and Bat-mobile chases until the end of their days — because that is all The Joker knows how to do. He is symbiotically linked to Batman. And due to his refusal to kill, Batman understands that he is just as unable to break the cycle — condemning them both to an eternity of quarreling to be broken only by old age or one of their actors’ having an overdose. Cue box office millions and Oscar nominations.
Here in real-life, a relationship not dissimilar to the Batman/Joker cycle was severed in 2016 — albeit this one without any explosions or clown make-up. The battle with the European Union has long been a war of convenience for the British Right. That relationship came to a dramatic conclusion with Brexit, and a two year battle over divorce terms is underway. The Conservative government seems dead set on pursuing the hardest sever they can get without physically cutting the British Isles off of the Continental plate and tugging it towards the Cayman Islands. The Right-wing gutter press are ringing out every last drop of xenophobia they can find from the Euro-faucet. And Nigel Farage and the rest of the radical Leave brigade are using the process as a chance to hold more Farewell tours than Ozzy Osbourne. Politicians and media personalities who have spent their entire careers opposing the EU are doing their best to put off a startling realization — what do we do when we get what we want? Who can we blame when the EU is not there?
Both official and unofficial Leave campaigns were structured on lies, misrepresentation, nationalism and economic acrobatics. But it was easy to see how they tapped into the psyche of a frustrated and dissatisfied electorate. The motifs of ‘taking back control’ and removing the troublesome invaders from far-off lands who threatened our quaint British lifestyles was almost wartime-lite in it’s presentation. 2017’s exit process provides similar slogans— with talk of ‘enemies of the people’, ‘saboteurs’ and ‘silencing the whingers’. It’s all very well to use language Stalin might find theatrical to silence all opposition whilst the future of Britain outside the European Union is still unclear. But as the fog begins to dissipate and the future where Britons are poorer and worse off becomes impossible for even the spin-doctors at the Daily Mail to deny, where will people look to a leader?
More and more it appears obvious that all those connected to the Leave Campaign pushed Brexit for entirely cynical and career based reasons. None worse in this category than Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP. Boris has craved leadership of the Conservative party before he was fired even once from a newspaper role for lying and slander. Johnson led the Leave side against his old mate David Cameron — hoping the chance to front a national referendum campaign would give him the authority and command to be first in line for a new Tory leader in 2020 — likely after a close but ultimately unsuccessful Leave attempt. His grim expression on the morning of June 24th portrayed the look of a man who was beginning to realize everyone knew it was him who came in drunk on Christmas Eve and took a shit in the slow cooker — there were few people Boris would have rather been on that day than the man everyone turned to to ask ‘What now?’. Most recently Boris has released his already-infamous Telegraph article outlining ‘his vision’ for Brexit. No doubt to the immense frustration of the Prime Minister. If Boris was attempting to use the article as a leadership challenge launch, he might want to take a long look at the amount of MPs who have turned their heads sideways and backed away whistling. More likely is that Boris’ article is an attempt to get his excuses in early —He’s blaming injuries before the game is even lost — and making it clear that if things were done HIS way we would all be singing Happy Days right now. The other alternative is that Johnson is doing his damnedest to get sacked — you can’t accuse the captain of not going down with the ship if he’s thrown overboard.#
And Boris isn’t alone in his desperation to shift all the tough jobs onto the shoulders of someone else. After Theresa May’s election disaster, virtually any Tory MP, and ESPECIALLY a Brexiteer, could have deposed her as Prime Minister. No-one stepped forth. Not Boris, who heeded the whole Brexit mess in the first place as his personal vehicle bound for Number 10. Not Michael Gove, who stabbed his old mate in the back a year ago to try and climb over his slumped corpse to get the big job for himself. Not Andrea Leadsom. Not Liam Fox. Not David Davis. None of the big beasts of Brexit dared raise their head above the precipice — to risk having to actually guide this ride into the glory they promised all through the referendum. The reason is clear: Not a single one of them is confident in Brexit’s chances of success, and not one of them trust’s their own abilities to even mitigate the damage. When someone as useless as Theresa May is considered indispensable, the gulf of bravery in the Conservative Party is terrifying.
For Boris and his ilk, once Brexit moved beyond complete fabrications in the Telegraph about bendy bananas and became an actual political reality, complete with millions of grim policy details to untangle and negotiations to be sorted that cannot be wiped away with jingoism and a recording of ‘Nimrod’ in the background, the real weight of leadership has taken too heavy a toll. The days of holding up the EU as a can-carrier for the difficulties of the working class, as opposed to the crippling austerity measures the Conservative Government has implemented, will soon be over. The right-wing, in their jubilance, did not realize that when the consequences of Brexit really begin to squeeze, the EU will not be there to blame. So they will naturally do what they always do and turn towards another target. Almost certainly immigrants (as always), possibly ‘Remoaners’ and other saboteurs. Maybe it’ll be those filthy communists. Maybe the Irish. Maybe Mutants, or those Foookin Prawns. Who knows who will be in the line of fire. One thing for certain — it won’t be anyone actually responsible for us actually leaving the European Union and getting us into this mess. No sir.
So those who are celebrating Brexit now might want to wake up and realise that it will soon be they who have to go back to ‘ripping off mob dealers’. But the saddest joke of all? The EU is getting by just fine. It’s very obvious (and has always been obvious) that Britain’s decision to leave is not something that will seriously endanger the Union. Their priorities are crystal clear for negotiations – enforcing the best deal for the future of the 27 nations and the integration of Europe. Brexiteers who believe that any member will crack in order to cosy up to an isolated and adrift Britain are clinging to the same delusions Liverpool fans had this summer thinking that Southampton would have a sudden U-turn over Virgil Van Dijk. The EU has its issues – but Brexit is not one giving them major headaches.
So rather than this relationship being one akin to The Joker killing Batman, think of it more like Batman deciding that he’s had enough of fighting Clowns for one lifetime and retiring to bang supermodels for the rest of his days. The Joker is left alone, without his foil, to come up with increasingly unlikely reasons to justify to his henchmen why each new caper he pulls hasn’t made them all rich yet. Until one day they realise that it wasn’t Batman that was withholding all the wealth from them – Joker used it himself to spend on his brand new rocket launcher shaped like a jack-in-the-box. Brexiteers may not wear clown make-up – but it’s clear in real life who the real jokers are.