Finally: The Benefits of Brexit

Over the past months I have noticed a recurrent question on social media asking users to name a single benefit of Brexit.

I have managed to think of a few. In future there will be access to duty free in Dublin Airport for the flights to London. And, when the UK government inevitably betrays the DUP and sets the border between UK and Ireland down the middle of the Irish Sea, as the desperate price they must pay to get a trade deal with the EU, that will be a significant step towards the reunification of Ireland. Though, of course, given that the path towards a reconciliation amongst the Irish people was already set by the Good Friday Agreement this particular benefit could probably have been happily forgone.

But aside from these the search for Brexit benefits has been a forlorn quest. Brexiters have long been flummoxed when challenged to name which particular European laws they objected to. And even the dimmest seem finally to have realised that the stories of bendy bananas were preposterous myths and the promises of £350 million a week for the UK’s National Health Service were cynical lies.

But of course there are enormous benefits of Brexit for some, though not of course the vast majority of those deceived into voting for it, or even the racists and xenophobes for whom economic concerns are secondary to ones of hatred.

No, those who will benefit are an entirely different stripe of ideologue. They are a political and social elite who campaigned against the EU to concentrate power more firmly into their hands, irrespective of the social and economic cost to the majority.

For all their talk of the sovereignty of parliament the first fruits of their labours will be obtained if the Repeal bills currently before parliament are enacted into law and they are granted the sweeping Henry VIII powers those bills request. Such powers will enable ministers, for years to come, to make law without recourse to parliament.

And these powers are then likely to be used to enable the political elite to reward some of their most cynical backers: those who have chaffed against the regulations from the EU that have protected workers’ rights, environmental standards and food safety. They will get the regulatory bonfire they have long craved and that leading Brexiters have been promising.

As the proportions and specific horrors of the catastrophe that will be Brexit become clearer by the day, it seems beyond rationality that the UK government still seems intent on embracing the disaster. But for some at the most senior levels of government this seems a price worth paying for supreme power in the devastated aftermath.

That the opposition Labour Party, wrapped up in its fantasies of some post-Trotskyist “People’s Brexit”, is so pusillanimously facilitating this careening towards disaster is even more bizarre. But then the careers of those, Left and Right, who are facilitating this mess, will naturally have come to an end as the reality bites, and they will be in comfortable retirement as the next generation scrambles to pick up the pieces.

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To Kill the President, by Sam Bourne

img_1289Summary: Dreams of a better world

To Kill the President starts with Donald Trump coming within 7 seconds of ending the world by trying to launch a nuclear attack on North Korea and China. Things get tense after that.

Former Washington Guardian correspondent, Jonathan Freedland, writing under the pseudonym of Sam Bourne, here crafts a disturbingly plausible depiction of the Trump presidency as a krypto-Nazi one presided over by a petulant and bullying overgrown child. Of course the name of the president is never uttered, but his turn of speech, Twitter addiction, disinterest in facts, narcissism, inattention to detail and penchant for sexual assault all have Trump writ larger than his tiny, tiny hands.

Faced with this grotesque threat to human civilisation a small group of patriotic Americans decide they have no choice but to remove him from office, by whatever means necessary. Their efforts are stumbled upon by a White House Counsel, Maggie Costello, an appointee of the previous administration who is nevertheless kept on by the new regime who want a least a few competent professionals to remain.

Maggie is an outsider in every way in the new dispensation: a woman in a misogynistic administration, foreign (Irish), leftist and cosmopolitan amongst the xenophobic Fascists. She is an intriguing protagonist: flawed, almost fatally, but smart and tenacious too, by way of compensation.

To Kill the President is a compelling thriller, perfect escapism for those who want a brief respite from the horrors of contemporary reality.