A ‘no deal’ Brexit – the proposal which spawned a multitude of slogans, each one somehow more cretinous than the last. From the excruciatingly whimsical “No deal? No problem!”, all the way to frankly absurd “Let’s go WTO!” – a proposal made ever the more baffling by its most fervent advocates likely having a similar grasp of the rules and mechanisms of the WTO as a gerbil has of particle physics.
In many respects, it’s difficult to be especially angry with many of the regular folk who eagerly scramble upon this bandwagon. By and large, they’re ultimately just everyday people seeking out a way to improve their lives, a considerable demographic being understandably unhappy to be marooned in communities which have ultimately been left behind by metropolitan prosperity.
So when a loquacious snake oil merchant with a penchant for Latin and top hats appears on their screens, confidently espousing the supposed virtues of a “WTO Brexit” to little in the way of a contradictory argument, it’s easy to see how punters can be taken in. Sure, he’s clearly not a “man of the people”, but the air of authority he carries with him is undeniable to most laymen.
In any case, irrespective of plausibility, ‘no deal’ has remained on the table throughout negotiations; forever lurking in the background like a malevolent spectre of unfathomable stupidity, ready to trigger a national act of self immolation for a nebulous cause that nobody is able to coherently define – let alone agree upon.
Now May’s perpetually maligned deal is as dead as Julius Caesar, where the hell we go next is indeed the question of the day. Her calamitous failure has sparked tiny morsels of hope to grow within those wishing to remain, seeing its demise as a critical scalp in their relentless bid to topple the Brexit behemoth. The threat of ‘no deal’ is the next logical beast to slay – but this isn’t a foe which will quietly lay down and die.
While the key battlefield will be the House of Commons, within which the considerably saner strain of MP will attempt to take out ‘no deal’ as it performs evasive manoeuvres within the machinations of Parliament, in reality the danger which they seek to quell exists far beyond that of a parliamentary motion.
Despite ‘no deal’ being a superficially simple concept, the implications and pitfalls which will spring forth as a consequence are as complex as they are devastating. The disastrous effects which will subsequently take hold would seep into and undermine every aspect of society – many of which have been naively taken for granted owing to their omnipresence in our lives.
As such, in a move typical of the slippery hucksters feverishly pushing for it, ‘no deal’ has undergone a considerable amount of re-branding. I’ve already touched upon the moniker of a “WTO Brexit”, with the added acronym allowing it to bizarrely masquerade under a title the overwhelming majority of uninitiated citizens simply don’t understand -so it was inevitable that the prevailing pseudonym became a so called “managed no deal”.
To those in the know, such a label is simply ludicrous – ranking alongside a “nature first napalm strike” in the absurdity stakes. However, from a PR perspective it’s somewhat ingenious. Not only does it win favour with the casual observer, providing the illusion that what is being proposed is somewhat sensible, it also helps it to gain a considerable propagandic foothold against the onslaught of “Project Fear” – or “increasingly apparent reality” as it’s coming to be known.
The more ‘no deal’ can be watered down and simplified the greater sway it will invariably have with the great unwashed. Forget quibbling over the plethora of catastrophic nuance which will ultimately kick the populace in their collective gonads – just break out the analogies and convince the electorate that, actually, it’s all incredibly simple. Economic oblivion? Don’t be silly, it’s just like Deal or No Deal – only with the added bonus of Noel Edmonds being completely absent from the entire process.
Of course such analogous piffle is patently ludicrous, but it’s veracity cannot be doubted. Political PR games are often won by way of simplicity – “Take Back Control”, “Make America Great Again”, “Hope”, “Change” – the list goes on. Politics is innately complicated and people simply don’t have time to be entirely informed – a liability which the spin doctors are only too happy to take advantage of.
However, even if you were to dismantle the battle of semantics, the greatest foe to be faced is one of perspective. Specifically that of the feasibility of ‘no deal’ in the public eye.
As I’ve noted before, “Project Fear” is a difficult concept to grasp – existing in most people’s mind as unfeasible doom-mongering. The truth of the matter is that it is simply something which cannot be appreciated without experience. If you’ve always lived in a stable, functional society then the concept of a dystopia will remain firmly in the fiction subsection of your brain. While averting calamity is the primary goal of those gunning to remain, until the misery of ‘no deal’ has been witnessed first hand its supporters will continue to crow – steadfast in their insistence that Brexit had been betrayed and if only we’d listened to Nigel we’d be in utopia by now.
Alas, failing to snuff out the grumblings of most bitter of eurosceptics is ultimately a price worth paying. The debate will rage on for sure, ensuring a divided country remains definitively torn in two. However this wouldn’t be new. The tectonic plates of comparative harmony were ripped asunder by the initial referendum and have only drifted apart as time has ticked by.
Nevertheless, this is the bed we must now lie in. Even if we were to remain, it will be little more than a salvage operation. Things will never quite go back to where they were before, the zeitgeist is too far gone.
If we’re to bitterly squabble for the foreseeable future then so be it. The horror of ‘no deal’ simply isn’t worth it just to prove a point.Follow @grahamlithgow