Donald Tusk thought there was a particularly hot corner of hell for people who triggered Brexit with no semblance of a plan for what came next. Boris Johnson said the EU could go whistle for its £39 billion owed by the UK. Yet there they were at Biarritz yesterday, all bonhomie. It was as weird as watching two corpses suddenly smile at each other.
So what’s the truth? Are Donald T and Boris J best mates? Or do they hate each other’s guts and are just putting it on for the cameras?
Boris never misses an opportunity to use the phrase “our friends in the EU.” But for someone to be your friend, they have to return your affection at some level. It’s safe to say that the EU leaders would defenestrate the British PM if they thought they could get away with it.
It is of course impossible to grasp the future havoc that Brexit will wreak. But let’s try an extended metaphor.
A well-known if not well-liked family that’s been living in the town for the last forty years suddenly declares it’s leaving.
“But why?” the townspeople ask, a little distressed. “You’re part of the town’s commercial life. You sell tiddly-winks to us and we sell cars and booze to you. Won’t you miss all that?’
‘No, because I’m going to go out and make my own trade deals with other towns and be as free as a bird. Tiddly-winks are loved the world over.”
“But the next town is 2,000 miles away. Isn’t there a danger you’ll arrive there exhausted and penniless? Wouldn’t it make more sense to stay here and save yourself all that bother?”
“No, I’ve decided to go, do or die. Now where’s my present?”
“My going-away present. To show how much you respect me for making this decision.”
“We don’t have a present. We wish you hadn’t made this decision: it’ll leave a big empty space in our town and it’ll set you off on a journey of 2,000 miles during which you could die from thirst or starvation.”
“Oh, enough of the gloomster-doomster stuff. Where is my present? And remember, I’m not going to accept that pair of socks you said I’d agreed to.”
“But you did agree to the socks. At least one of your family agreed to them. If you want a better parting pressie, can you make a suggestion?”
“Fiddle-faddle and nil desperandum. You must come up with a better present plan, not me.”
“But you’re the one who has decided to leave and who has rejected our offer of a pair of socks. What would you like instead?”
“No, no. It’s up to you to decide what going away present I’m given. Now you’re getting me all angry. If you don’t give me a new and better pressie, I’m going to trash my shop before I leave. I might even shoot myself in the town hall and leave ugly blood-stains on the nice green carpet. Then you’ll be sorry, won’t you? Your nice carpet all mucked dup. I mean mucked up. That’ll teach you.”
Curtain descends as townspeople look at each other and whisper that the sooner this nut-job heads off into the desert in search of glory, the better.
“Get the cops to handcuff him” the mayor whispers. “And drop him just beyond the town limits. Now, back to work, everybody. We’ve wasted far too much time already on this deluded clown.”