OK – so now we’re back in December of last year. Or Theresa May appears to be, finally. You’ll remember that in December 2017, she committed to the backstop for Ireland, and again in March 2018, but since then she has been hopping like a hen on a hot stove to somehow get out of her commitment. So I suppose we should be grateful that she’s stopped hopping and concedes the need for a backstop.
How are things going to pan out over the next year or so? Impossible to say. But we can conjecture. Here are five possibilities.
- Brexit happens in March 2019. But it’s a cushioned Brexit, with the UK given two years and the option of a third year during which it can stay in the customs union and the single market. This calms down the DUPers but inflames the Rees-Moggs and Johnsons. Will they allow Theresa May to hug the EU borderline, keeping British industry and trade ticking over? Hard to see that happening. When someone’s intent on self-harm, they’re intent on self-harm. And the crazies in Westminster are mad for it.
- Brexit doesn’t happen in March 2019. The Remain campaign gets stronger and stronger, until in early February 2019, three million signatures objecting strongly to Brexit are handed in to Downing Street, a million and a half people march demanding a second referendum, and in early March that second referendum is held. Over 60% in the UK and over 70% of people here in the north of Ireland say “Put this bloody thing in reverse, Theresa!” and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
- Brexit happens in March 2019, but by October 2019 the effects are beginning to bite really hard. People are restive, demonstrations abound, the Scots are furious that they’ve been dragged into this post-Brexit wasteland. Nicola Sturgeon calls a second Scottish referendum and Scotland declares independence AND is welcomed back into the EU. In the north here, things are at boiling point. There are demands for a border poll, so the north can leave what remains of the UK. It is won by the united Irelanders, and a loyalist core vows to fight to the death. This proves futile, since they’ve been totally infiltrated since 2013.
- Brexit happens in March 2019, and by October 2019 the UK has won a terrific trade deal with the US, which amounts to the equivalent of £2,000 in the pocket of every man, woman and child in the UK. India and Brazil, seeing what way the wind is blowing, sign up for trade deals with the UK, which by now is booming. And is that China knocking at the door? I declare to God it is.
- Theresa May fails to get her EU deal passed in the UK parliament, the pressure for a general election becomes too much, and one is called. Labour win a sweeping majority and Jeremy Corbyn is installed in No 10 Downing Street. Scotland calls for an independence referendum and wins it. The new Labour Secretary of State for the north is forced to call a border poll, and it’s lost when a small margin– 50.8% of people – say they want to stay in the United Kingdom. Dissident republicans say :”We always said politics wouldn’t work” and their numbers are swollen by a wave of young people totally disillusioned with the contempt in which Westminster holds them. So now to the economic wasteland in which people find themselves is added the political wasteland, with lethal violence on the streets an everyday occurrence. Thousands of young Irish people, fed up with it all, emigrate to Australia and Canada. Some try to enter the US but don’t succeed: since Donald Trump, confident of a second term, declared America was for Americans only, immigrants of all sorts are turned away.
Will any of this happen? There’s a good chance one of the five will become reality. But two things are certain: (i) Brexit if it comes will bring economic chaos; and (ii) As English nationalism grows, the UK is going to creak and groan as the forces of disintegration bear down ever more insistently.
My considered political advice? Start praying. Nothing short of a heavenly thunderbolt will stop the likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson.