Dominic Cummings repeats himself, first as tragedy, then as farce. I would love to take seriously the Downing Street chief adviser’s threat to collapse Brexit talks and rip up the rule of law. But I can’t. He used this ploy last year before conceding to a bad deal. It was a bluff then; it’s a bluff now.
Why do I think that? Put it another way: why do I think that the same people who misled us about the cost of EU membership, who misled us about Brexit happening last October “do or die”, and who misled us about the number of coronavirus tests the UK was carrying out, might not be telling the truth now? Go figure.
Mr Cummings and his supposed boss, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, don’t want a no-deal Brexit. They want to distract from the pandemic and fight Brussels, the Labour party and the courts. Then they can claim victory in a few weeks once they reach a deal.
Last year’s deal is pretty much the only policy success that Mr Johnson has had as PM; he’s not going to pass up the opportunity for a repeat. If there’s no deal, it’ll be because he miscalculated. This is a tantrum by toddlers who want grown-ups to save them from disaster. At this stage, any parent knows the best option is to ignore them. My personal rule is to step in when a child hits his head, but feel free to wait until someone is actually unconscious.
Let’s turn instead to the real Brexit news of the week — the reminder that a £120m Festival of Brexit is happening, in 2022. You may have forgotten about the event, a brainchild of Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May as a way of bringing the UK together after Brexit.
True, Mrs May conceiving of a festival is a bit like the Dalai Lama conceiving of an arms fair. But please understand: thanks to recent political incompetence, plus an increased awareness of our national debt to slavery, almost the only historical event of which a British person can now be proud is the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
Every UK government is now doomed to try to repeat that feat. They’ve even hired the Olympics head of ceremonies, Martin Green. This week Mr Green said that the Festival of Brexit would be a “showcase of creativity”.
It’s not actually called the Festival of Brexit — the organisers aren’t stupid — it’s currently being named Festival UK 2022, which abbreviates to . . . wait, maybe the organisers are stupid? FUK 2022 is one of the few events that’s so far away that it won’t be cancelled. But I can’t help thinking the real festival is the one we’re enjoying right now. It’s not FUK 2022, it’s FUK 2020 and probably FUK 2021 as an encore. As for British creativity, it’s unrivalled: who else has sucked up to President Donald Trump and jeopardised trade talks with the US in the same week.
Of course we should not expect another Olympics. While mind-and-body-altering drugs were frowned upon then, they’ve been essential to enduring the festival of Brexit. Another major difference is that several countries wanted to host the Olympics. They have as much interest in FUK as they do in hosting California’s wildfire season.
One of those fires turns out to have been sparked by fireworks at a gender reveal party, a celebration in which expectant parents release blue or pink smoke denoting the sex of their baby-to-be. That fire has forced more than 20,000 people to evacuate. Brexit is Mr Cummings’ own gender reveal party: a pathetic attempt to show off his own masculinity that instead underlines that he is in fact still a baby.
I take that back. Mr Cummings is not a baby. He’s an arsonist. The type who loses sensation in his fingers and burns his own house down. The fire brigade will lead him from the scene while he shouts about how he’s going to reform them and replace their water cannons with an app. Last warning to his housemates: evacuate.