If you want to understand the lunacy of Brexit, read Mandrake in ‘The New European’. Here’s the opening paragraph of the piece dated October 11 (paywall):
“It must have been disheartening for the dwindling band of Brexit diehards to learn that Michael Gove has been wondering if ending the UK’s relationship with its principal trading partner made any sense. “I ask myself all the time, ‘was it the right thing to do?’” he admitted in an interview in the Financial Times. That’s up there with Karl Marx wondering if communism wasn’t a boo-boo…”
Except that Brexiteers were never as evangelical as Marxists. They weren’t even dreamers who wanted a better world.
I remember sitting in a BBC television studio with Michael Gove in the early years after the Brexit referendum had delivered its slight and foolish verdict. We were on Dateline London and Mr Gove was offering absolute certainty about the rightness of his belief in exiting the European Union (EU).
Now, consider Mandrake’s recent recollection of a conversation with one of Mr Gove’s “longtime friends, a former journalist”. That individual told Mandrake: “The thing about Michael is he is ultimately very lonely and Brexit gave him a chance to get out and have dinners with a lot of people and enjoy perhaps for the first time in his life a sense of comradeship. Even now if I ask him what he’s doing in the evening, it’s always Brexity people he’s off to see.”
Oh dear. What a reason to crash out of the world’s largest trading bloc.
But then Brexiteer leaders were mostly opportunists. Think of Boris Johnson’s two newspaper columns – one backing Brexit and the other opposing it. That the pro-Brexit column appeared was a calculation that had nothing to do with vision.
Mr Johnson simply judged it more politically beneficial to him to back Brexit rather than oppose it.
On such insubstantial foundations has Britain’s massive national project been built.
There should be little surprise it isn’t going well.
U-turn or not, though, the harm Brexit has done will continue to be felt for years.