Friday, 30 November 2018

Brexit: the Conservative Conspiracy

I think we all know now (whether we admit it or not) that Brexit - however it happens - is going to be a disaster.

How we explain this mess to our grandchildren is another matter. Historians are no doubt already sketching out the broad narrative of a Tory rift, a foolish leader, a failed attempt to lance the boil and the inevitable slide into chaos and a deeply divided nation.

But just suppose, for a moment, that it wasn't. Just suppose the EU referendum was part of a deliberate plan. What if...

It was meant to happen?

I know, I know. Ridiculous.

But.

The main issue throughout the campaign and its aftermath has been immigration. Taking back border control. Restricting the free movement of EU citizens across national borders.

Theresa May - who as Home Secretary presided over Operation Vaken - has said as much herself in her spirited (you've got to give her that) defence of the Brexit treaty. We're not got much else out of it. But we've got that.


Immigration figured pretty high on people's reasons for voting leave in my neck of the woods. It's also figured high on people's fears post-Brexit. Because - in common with a lot of areas - there are an awful lot of migrants living and working here. Not just in the health service, or waiting on tables or helping in care homes. In the fields. Getting up at four a.m. to spend eight hours in back-breaking hard labour harvesting the food we buy fresh (and cheap) each day.

And what happens to that when they're gone? It's hardly skilled work. It doesn't demand much more than physical strength and stamina. So the thousands that do these jobs are hardly likely, it would seem, to receive protection in the new, post-EU Britain.

Unemployment is at an historic low. There can't be much slack there, can there? And yet there are (so it's said) over 800,000 job vacancies at present.

What if you think - thought, years ago - that there was some slack in the system? What if you thought that most if not all the benefit claimants were good-for-nothing slackers who needed to be made to get up off their comfortable sofa and apply for one of these vacant jobs?

And what if you deliberately dismantled the benefits system and replaced it with a something almost as coercive as parish relief, or the workhouse? And what it... you'd done all that deliberately, along with the (otherwise inexplicable) Brexit vote and treaty?

It's the novelist in me, I suppose. I can't resist a good conspiracy theory. It's almost certainly not true. Although it's strange how such an outrageous, immoral, anti-social, corrupt and outlandish spin can be put on things without much effort.

No doubt there are 'facts' and 'experts' out there who can gainsay it all.

No doubt.

But looked at from afar, and from a different perspective, it doesn't seem at all outlandish.

Does it?
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