The European Parliament gave us a glimpse of the UK’s future: Good, honest, old fashioned loathing

Tom Peck
AFP/Getty

If you want to see the very near future of British politics, the European Parliament is the place to go. Which is convenient, really, as ours has been prorogued, again (or rather, technically, for the first time).

It’s not just that Michel Barnier stands up and patiently explains why there isn’t going to be a Brexit deal next week, when over here we have to find out via deranged anonymous briefings from No 10, sent out in the form of a 795-word text message to a single journalist.

It’s that, well, we are perhaps at the point of having to accept that a solution to the Irish border question isn’t going to be found. If there were a technological answer, it would already be in existence on the Norway-Sweden border. It’s not. There isn’t.

This and other reasons are why Angela Merkel may or may not have said there will be no deal “ever” unless Northern Ireland stays in the customs union (we don’t know if she said it because we only have No 10’s anonymous, unverified word on it, and if No 10 told you it was Wednesday, you’d check).

But if there is not to be a deal, it means the EU Parliament has been having, for some time, the debate Britain should have been having, and will doubtless be having soon.

In the EU Parliament, the Conservative and Labour – and, it would seem, almost all other parties from all over Europe – do not get a word in.

The Lib Dems and the Brexit Party just scream at each other all day. The Brexit Party want a no-deal Brexit. The Lib Dems want to Remain. And they, as Tony Blair said not so long ago, and he is never wrong (alright, he was wrong once), are the only two credible options available.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lib Dem MPs rose, in turn, to call Boris Johnson a charlatan, to demand a lengthy Article 50 extension, which will be used to revoke Article 50 itself then have a referendum, and the “clear majority” of British people will vote to remain.

Nigel Farage stood up, in turn, to shout at all of them. “You are a stuck up snob,” he bellowed at one of them. “Who are you to say the people didn’t know what they were voting for?”

“We will never accept a German chancellor attempting to annex a part of our nation,” he said. “We will not have it.”

 

A lovely touch, that, after the knuckle-dragging cavemen in charge of the rage machine that is Leave.EU found themselves having to apologise for an online post that said: “We didn’t win two World Wars to be pushed around by a kraut.”

Nobody else, frankly, got a look-in. It’s just Brits bellowing at Brits, one lot demanding no-deal Brexit, the other demanding Remain.

You won’t find anyone here doing a Labour Party. Which is to say (deep breath) a general election with a manifesto commitment to a second referendum followed by a special one day conference to decide the party’s position which the government then won’t be forced to actually back.

There is no dreadful triangulation. There is no one doing a Matt Hancock, or a Nicky Morgan, living out the life of a tortured, lobotomised zombie footsoldier from a war-horror movie, just slowly and strangely going along with mad things they absolutely know to be wrong.

None of the creeping evasion and untruth that has eaten its way through the two main parties like a cancer over three long years.

Whether it is the answer that Britain needs is difficult to say. But if there is to be a second referendum, Brussels is currently serving up canapes of what to expect. “You’re a disgrace.” “No you’re a disgrace.” “Leave!” “Remain!”

It is almost refreshing to watch. Abysmal, obviously, but honest.

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