There’s an old saying that if an infinite number of monkeys had an infinite number of typewriters, sooner or later one of them would type out the complete works of Shakespeare in the correct order. It’s not quite on that scale, but if Nigel Farage says enough things, then sooner or later I’m likely to agree with something, at least in part. Yesterday, he said that he suspected the Conservative Government "is not fit for the legacy of Brexit". I agree. The question which then arises, though, is whether there is any other conceivable government, composed of members of the current House of Commons, which would be more fit to deal with that legacy. And the supplementary question is whether any new parliament which might be elected would be any better. Given that neither the remainers nor the leavers seem to have much clue, I doubt both.
There is a sketch doing the rounds which seems to many to sum up the situation in which we find ourselves. It’s exaggerated, of course; most of the best humour is. But like all good humour, there is a core point which strikes home, and that is that those who argued for this situation haven’t a clue what to do next and seem to expect everyone else to solve the problems that they have created. Their justification is that it’s ‘democracy’; the majority have chosen a course of action, and it’s up to everyone to rally round to make it work. There are other ways of looking at the same thing, though. If a man is about to jump over a cliff, do you assist him or try and talk him out of it? The answer of all of those opponents of Brexit who say that we must accept the result would seem to be that we should jump with him.
Farage also said that British politics would suffer “another big seismic shock” if Brexit isn’t delivered by the next election in 2020. I think that he’s probably right to doubt whether the UK will have left the EU by then, unless the extremists get their way and the UK simply walks out one day and worries about the consequences afterwards. There are too many complex issues to be resolved, and the two year timescale was always entirely arbitrary. But whether that leads to a seismic shock depends on a range of factors which are unknowable at this stage.Will there still be a majority for Brexit as the details become clearer? Given UKIP’s current propensity for implosion, will there still be a viable political party able to capitalise on that? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. I’m fairly confident, however, that if those who think that Brexit is the wrong thing to do keep saying that the result cannot be changed, and restrict debate solely to the terms of the exit, they make the Farage scenario more likely, not least because they do nothing to persuade people to turn away from the path on which they have set us all.