As the Brexit debate moves from turgid to tepid, hardly a day goes by without one side slagging off the other, each trying to outdo the other in terms of gloom and doom. In the recent past, we have had David Cameron on behalf of the Remain camp predicting a world war if we left. Then we had the ubiquitous George Osborne telling us that our economy will collapse, there will be a run on sterling, property prices would tumble, and not before time in my opinion, followed by a plague of locusts no doubt.
On behalf of Brexit, Boris Johnson makes the point that dreams over the centuries of a united Europe have perished on the bonfire of vanity. Napoleon tried and failed, and others before him, Attila being one, but then Boris committed the cardinal sin and mentioned the ‘H’ word. Yes, he mentioned Hitler, as did his predecessor as Mayor of London, and look where that got him. He sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind, and now the long suffering electorate has got ‘know it all’ Rita Chakrabati, fresh from that desperately dreary pressure group Liberty, wheeled on to investigate and report back on anti-antisemitism in the Labour Party, and whose membership she embraced on the day of her appointment. Impeccable timing!
But back to Boris. As soon as he had made the remark, the Remain camp enlisted the services of Lord Bramall, you remember him of course from recent publicity, a nonagenarian, so very much in tune with the times, a former distinguished serviceman and more besides, who knows nothing about politics and even less about appealing to the common man. He was scripted as condemning Boris’s assertion that there is no such thing as European unity, even though such an assertion is patently true. So my advice to Lord Bramall, given all that has happened in the recent past, best to sit this one out old boy and adopt the well known adage: “Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away.”
The reality is that we British don’t like Johnnie Foreigner. As Shakespeare wrote, or was it the Earl of Oxford, and does it matter:
“This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”
It may be that on Referendum Day enough of us will vote to remain in the European Union, not because we like Johnny Foreigner, but because it’s better the devil we know. Don’t forget that it was as recently as 1904 that we Brits forgave and forgot our centuries’ long animosity to Johnny Frog, and Johnny Frog isn’t that enamored of us. And the irony is that before ‘H’ came on the scene, we had more in common with Johnnie Kraut than any other Johnny Foreigner, so much so we put one of them on the British throne and we’ve never looked back. Happy birthday HM.
I fear that in the run in to R Day, with Bramall manning the ramparts, we will have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous hyperbole and hope we come out the other side relatively unscathed. My dilemma is that I far prefer the dramatis personae of the Brexit campaign, viz Boris, Oiky Gove, Grayling and I D-S. Still, as Bramall would tell you if asked, and please don’t ask, the show ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Rule Britannia!
Postscript: Michael Heseltine has one claim to fame. He went to the same school as me, where apparently he was known as ‘Wet Legs’, but you didn’t hear that from me. Anyway, he is now described in certain sections of the Press as a Tory Grandee, and as such feels equipped to pontificate on anything and everything. He has waded into the furore of Boris and ‘H’, claiming that he, that’s Boris not ‘H’, is unfit to lead the Tory Party, a judgment which many of his contemporaries passed on him back in 1990. That’s Michael, not Boris or ‘H’. You may remember that this self-styled keeper of the moral compass was the same man who plotted behind Maggie Thatcher’s back and was instrumental in her downfall. Some moral compass! Interestingly, having engineered Maggie’s downfall, nobody wanted him as Prime Minister, to the extent that they opted for that strange bloke with bad wisdom teeth whose dad was a circus performer, who had little or no education and who wore his shirt tucked into his underpants.
What a pair! What a performance!
David Osborne is the author of three humorous books on the Law. His latest, entitled Order in Court, is now available in all reputable bookstores and on Amazon.