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Monday, July 04, 2016 

Bargaining chips.

Over the past week and a bit, there have been more than a few occasions where it's seemed as though we've stumbled through the looking glass.  That Jeremy Corbyn is still Labour leader, over a week after the world's worst coup, with journalists insisting a challenge will come, just a bit after they first proclaimed that it was definitely definite that a candidate would put themselves forward, is but one of many bizarro events.  Personally I hope Jezza is hanging on purely until the publication on Wednesday of the Chilcot report, in order to call from the dispatch box for Tony Blair to be indicted at the Hague.  Corbyn will then flash v for victory, yell peace oot, and disappear in a flash of smoke, never to be seen again.

All things considered mind, today's urgent question in the Commons by Gisela Stuart, she of Leave and the morning after the night before wake press conference really took the cake.  Having lain down with dogs, she duly stood up to complain about the fleas.  Could it really be possible the government would not guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK would be protected whatever happens?  Yes, responded James Brokenshire, echoing both David Cameron and Theresa May.  This will be a decision for the next prime minister, regardless of how unlikely it is that anyone will be asked to leave, and how refusing to make that clear will do nothing whatsoever to stop those emboldened by the Leave vote from telling anyone having the gall to speak foreign to go back to where they came from.

People should not be bargaining chips, Stuart said.  Which is even odder.  People have been bargaining chips for as long as I can remember.  When we talk about immigration we are talking about people, however much we pretend not to be.  Immigrants are not a congealed mass; they are individuals.  If you didn't want EU migrants to be turned into bargaining chips, then you really shouldn't have encouraged the belief that a vote to Leave would be anything like a vote to Take Back Control.  Oh, but Anne Main, another Leave supporter said, no one so much as suggested that migrants already here would be sent back or deported.  Well no, they didn't say that in such exact terms, but it seems strange so many who voted Leave got the idea from somewhere that doing so would at the very least send a clear message that such people were not welcome.  UKIP campaigned expressly on the slogan "we want our country back", a sentiment so double edged that it wasn't a dog whistle so much as Farage standing in front of a giant poster of huddled brown masses, embossed with the words "BREAKING POINT".

Queerer still is how politicians beyond the likes of your Jo Coxes and Corbyns suddenly have kind words to say about migrants.  The same ones are doubtless saying so at the exact same time as they murmur on how the vote means freedom of movement must either end or be drastically curtailed under any deal, with some going so far as to say leaving the single market would be better than having to accept freedom of movement, but still, it's something, isn't it?  Anyone might have thought they almost feel something approaching responsibility for the fallout from the vote, from how for years they stoked up the question of immigration until it became so toxic it ended up devouring the question of membership of the European Union whole.  Who knows, perhaps a few like Stuart even do feel sorry.  Not that it makes things any better.

In line with all the other leading politicos who, succeeding in bringing us to this low ebb have since decided they'd rather be off wanking in front of a mirror, Nigel Farage today did the indecent thing, following Cameron and Boris through the irresponsibility door.  His life's work achieved, Farage now wants nothing better than to relax and take stock, looking forward to his inevitable demise through auto-erotic asphyxiation.  That he's resigned twice before only to return to his adoring public is no indication that he'll be back for another battle some time in the future, oh heavens no.  This time he means it when he says he wants his life back.  Yes, back to those halcyon days when he could have a pint without being called a cunt by some cultural Marxist, or needing to laugh along at the racist jokes told by bar room bores even more tedious than himself.  Who could possibly begrudge him a quiet retirement now that he's banjaxed the hopes and dreams of so many?

Boris Johnson is in a similar position.  There he was, leading a sensible, traditional campaign where no one got roughed up, and suddenly he's getting called a c and a w too!  What is it our "nose-ringed friends", these "north London radicals" love so much about the EU he asks in his latest Telegraph column, which is in fact nothing more than a reprise of his entire Leave campaign shtick, complete with 5 point non-plan for what should happen now.  His last point of said plan is that our future is very bright indeed, whatever that beatnik Bob Geldof says.

Who then should lead us into these sunlit uplands now that BoJo himself has dropped out?  Clearly none other than Andrea Leadsom, who no one had heard of until three weeks ago, but now according to Johnson has the "zap, the drive, and the determination essential for the next leader of this country".  Or alternatively, according to a unnamed civil servant, was the "worst minister we've ever had".  Of all the Tory candidates on offer, it's quite something to be the most obviously unsuited for the job of prime minister in a field that includes both Michael Gove and Liam Fox, and yet Leadsom is without doubt that candidate.  It's enough to make you wonder if Johnson's endorsement is in fact pure nihilism: having lost his chance to get the job he's coveted his whole life, he's now quite happy to sit back and watch the party and by the same measure the country burn.

May you live in interesting times they say.  Fuck that, I say.

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