Why aren’t the Scottish National Party more sanguine about Brexit? Isn’t it logically in their obvious interests for a “no deal” Brexit to be a breeze?
I was puzzling over this last night in the Standing Order. I finally I went out into the street, where a few smokers stood about subdued in the cold, and I phoned up Nicola Sturgeon to ask her about it. “I’m Tychy,” I said. “I’m one of Scotland’s biggest Brexiteers.”
“Who?” she demanded, baffled.
“I have a website where I have written a great many articles. My most famous is called “Letter from a Sufferer of Vagina Dentata” – you must have read it – everybody seems to, at some point or another in their lives. Normally late at night.”
“Ah, I’ve placed you. Was that a genuine article, by the way?”
“Not you as well?” I growled. “Listen, why don’t you support the idea of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit?”
It was as if I had asked her to walk five hundred miles and five hundred more. “No, we couldn’t do that,” she replied at once and very firmly. “It would endanger the economy. It would have a devastating impact on jobs and investment. Every sensible economic forecaster – every capitalist in the telephone book – says exactly the same thing!”
She was doing that trick that she has where she chomps the word EN-DANE-GER with a peculiarly haunting emphasis. I imagined her quivering with her gerbil ferocity. “But Nicola,” I pleaded, “all of these economic forecasters and significant capitalists are going to disapprove of any disruption to the status quo. Were Scotland ever likely to leave the UK, for example, then you’d be on the receiving end of exactly the same impact assessments. You’d be no longer hunting with the hounds.”
“No, no,” she snorted. “The silly Project Fear that argues against Scottish independence is in a completely different category to the one that wisely warns about the recklessness of Brexit.”
“They’re identical – in absolutely every respect! And surely if the Project Fear about Brexit proves to be a dud, then your own Scottish independence will experience the biggest ever fillip in its history. Credibility will descend upon you like a shower of gold. The greatest political threat to you – the supposed realism of economic forecasters – will be forever disabled.”
At that moment, a drunk floundered up to me gibbering that he needed a light. I handed him a lighter and then watched frozen as he tried to repeatedly ignite the stringy beard that dangled immediately below his cigarette. His eyes were glazed in concentration but at each click the confetti of small sparks somehow somersaulted away harmlessly within the dank hairs. When I tuned back into Nicola, she was raging that she now remembered my website. “During 2014 you tried to turn Project Fear into a national religion, with you as its abusively gesticulating archbishop. You even wrote an article complaining that Project Fear was too inhibited.”
“Indeed, I think that Brexit will be also an economic disaster, but the greater democracy is, for me, a jewel worth purchasing at any cost. In 2014, you weren’t promising any enhanced democracy in return for the destitution. You were only offering nationalism.”
Nicola bridled. “What is important is people’s jobs, people’s livelihoods… our economic future…”
“You don’t truly believe in independence. You don’t believe even in the most basic self-respect. You’re just…” I reached for the most insulting term that I could think of, “a technocrat!”
Later, outside a chippie on Nicolson Street, I fell into thinking that Jeremy Corbyn’s position was just as contradictory. So I phoned him up too.
“Hi, I’m Tychy.”
“Yes, great website, fantastic work,” he purred knowledgeably. “And, can I ask, is that ‘Letter from a Sufferer of Vagina Dentata’ really a genuine…?”
“Not you as well? Listen, why doesn’t Labour wholeheartedly embrace the concept of a ‘no deal’ Brexit?”
“Oh no, a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would cost jobs and undermine living standards. We must avoid it at all costs. All of the most seasoned economic forecasters…”
“You’re in the same soup as Nicola!” I concluded, bewildered. “Nobody at the IMF or the Institute for Fiscal Studies is going to okay Momentum’s plans for the economy in a million years. So why do you pile up all of these sources against Brexit? Surely if the Brexiteers pursue some radical disruption to the economy, which actually shocks it out of its flatlining malaise, then you’ll be only emboldened in setting out your own, equally imaginative ideas?”
I won’t detail the following conversation but it ended with me hanging up contemptuously, shortly after the word “technocrat!”