If this week has demonstrated anything, it’s that war with France is one of few policies to still enjoy true cross-party support. Brexiters are happy because they crave armed conflict with the uppity frogs above all else. Remainers are happy because they always said Brexiters craved armed conflict with the uppity frogs, and they crave being proved right in a losing cause.
Other than being paid by the government not to work, it’s hard to think of another idea in recent years that everyone has rallied around with such enthusiasm. In fraught times, we ought to be grateful for these fleeting bursts of unity.
I’m as excited for the conflict as the next man, unless he lives on the Isle of Wight, but I’m afraid those in command may not have thought through the implications. Because there will only be one winner: France. For all the surrender-monkey talk, the history couldn’t be clearer.
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When we have beaten France, in the Napoleonic or seven years wars, we have done so with German help. Every time we try to go it alone, we have to scurry home, stubby little bulldog tails between our legs: hundred years war, war of 1778, the Norman Conquest. I’m not sure Mrs Merkel is itching for a scrap.
There will be some early grounds for hope. Led by Dominic Raab in full kit and shin pads, the SAS will parachute in and seize our ancestral booze warehouses across the Channel. The burghers of Calais will be force-fed les burgers Anglais they were so rude about in the 90s.
It won’t last. In time, the Foreign Legion will be marching down Oxford Street, while their generals loot Mr Bean DVDs and Oasis albums from the smoking wreckage of HMV. Rowan Atkinson will eventually be flushed out of his bunker, Saddam-style, and forced to perform Bean skits for 20 hours a day. The Queen will be exiled to Balmoral in the newly independent vassal state of Scotland, replaced by the puppet transition leader, Arsène Wenger. Stepping into his new quarters on Downing Street, Mr Macron will shake his head sadly at the depraved extravagance that led to such wallpaper, the last gasps of a venal and corrupt administration.
Coming from a family of 1066 blow-ins, I’m conflicted. Am I pleased we’ll lose the war with France? It’s hard to say. As is their custom, our new leaders will strip every open space of all grass and replace it with that weird pink gravel they’re so obsessed with. Eton will keep its name but fulfil a new role as the Ecole Technocratique Nationale.
No longer able to define themselves in patriotic opposition to their French counterparts, our holiday towns will be deserted, with disastrous effects on house prices. Marmite and baked bean factories will be blown up. Rather than a Byzantine dance of conspiracy and interviews, the next series of Line of Duty will be six hours of horny students being beaten up by cops. Now Daft Punk have disbanded, there will be nobody to headline Glastonbury. Coffee will become undrinkable and, strangely, so will tea.
It won’t all be bad. France is sometimes described as a paradise populated by people who think they’re living in hell, which is to say the opposite of Surrey. There will be advantages: cooked breakfast will be banned, replaced by room-temperature breakfast, and lunch will be compulsory. Pret a Manger will be seized by the state, briefly renamed Ready to Eat and then razed to the ground to encourage the others. Tinned confit duck will no longer have to be smuggled back in the boots of family cars but instead will be made available in every newsagent.
There will be wine everywhere, except McDonald’s, where there will be beer. The price of Greggs sausage rolls will be capped by the state. It will cost money to drive on motorways but they will all be incredible.
Rather than chiding our politicians for extramarital shenanigans, we will be forced to admire them, and instead berate any who make the error of marrying their lovers. It will be impossible to get a job but also impossible to be sacked. Everyone will work less but, inexplicably, be more productive. Everyone will retire at 62, except train drivers who will retire at 52. All parents will have access to cheap childcare. We’ll have a national anthem with a discernible tune.
When we lose the war with France, England will be the winner.
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