Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Well and truly stuffed


Rather than watching the great ITV leadership debate I was instead driving over to the Fens to collect a dead raccoon for the girlfriend's latest taxidermy project. Certainly if I was after any sort of engaging Brexit debate, the dead raccoon would have more insight to offer than Boris Johnson even after being in the deep freeze for the last two years.

This is actually where Twitter comes in handy. You don't actually have to watch the thing to get the gist of it. Most of the key quotes tell you all you need to know. Jeremy Hunt plans mobile checks on the Irish border, saying the technology already exists, while Boris Johnson also says the solutions to frictionless border exist. If they're not ready by October 31st then it goes into the implementation period.

Of course, even the dead raccoon has grasped that there is no implementation period if there is no deal and as far as border technology goes, the Brexiter mythos has been debunked countless times. In a literal sense, yes the technology does exist but there is no known framework for it to operate in that would be agreeable to the EU and certainly nothing that satisfies the regulatory aspect. But as we know, the debunking of these zombie arguments counts for nothing when you're dealing with a belief system and when those who most need the information will never see it having constructed their own heavily policed echo chamber.

So on the one hand we have a candidate who thinks the hocus pocus of Shanker Singham is the basis for a renegotiation with the EU and one who is telling straight up lies without a hint of shame. Neither candidate offers us a viable or even realistic approach. Then for Boris Johnson to claim that £39 billion would instantly be available in the event of a no deal Brexit tells us that this whole charade is more about manipulating the clueless few rather than persuading the masses of anything. Why then the media is providing a platform for it escapes me. We don't actually get a say in the matter. We are not participants.

It's actually the format that tells us more about what we are watching. ITV has elected to present it in the format of a tawdry Saturday teatime game show, reminiscent of Catchphrase in the 90's. Low budget, lowbrow and little more than chewing gum for the mind. We've somehow managed to utterly trivialise the most significant and consequential event in our nation's history since World War Two.

What we're actually watching is peak decadence. A moral and cultural nosedive. It's almost an argument in favour of no deal. British politics has run as far as it can go in its current form. If Johnson really is the best our politics can dredge up then there's nothing left worth salvaging and if this sordid spectacle is what passes for debate then what's the point? There would perhaps be a glimmer of hope were there anything approaching an alternative on the opposite benches, but Labour is also a spent force with nothing to say worth hearing. Diane Abbott is starting to look like the thinker in the bunch.

Still, the evening wasn't entirely wasted. I now have a dead raccoon in the freezer which prompted an interesting conversation about taxidermy regulation, where taxidermists need a licence to own certain dead animals under annex 4 of the Habitats Directive and in order to comply with a number of EU regulations concerning illicit trade in wildlife. It may well be that leaving without a deal means we are no longer authorised to export as A10 certification is no longer recognised. Just another example of how EU touches on just about every area of technical governance - yet charlatans still tell us no deal does not create complications. The smaller day to day complications could end up killing more trade than the headline industries we panic about. Come Brexit day, it won't just be the raccoon who's completely stuffed.

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