Thursday 24 September 2020

Drawing lines on maps

A very, very long time ago, as far back as July 2020, a certain Jacob Rees-Mogg took great delight in mocking the suggestion from an SNP MP that there might be circumstances in which diverging pandemic policy led to a wish to close the Scottish border. Oh, how droll he was in his suggestion that the SNP wanted to demand documentation from people crossing what he saw as a wholly imaginary border between two districts or areas of the same country. And how the Tory MPs behind him laughed, or would have done had they not been banned from the chamber by social distancing rules. Virtual laughter counts, I suppose. “A border,” he said, “is something that you may stop people crossing”. “Even I,” he added, “am not suggesting that we make people from Gloucestershire present their passports before coming into Somerset.”

Not for the first time, events have made a fool of him. (Not that he needs events to do that; he generally manages to accomplish the same end rather well without them.) It turns out that governments can create borders anywhere they want to, even around what they see as ‘districts’ or ‘areas’. Who’d have thought it? The government of which he has somehow accidentally become a part has been forced to admit this week that it will be implementing border controls for entry into that well-known foreign country, Kent, and demanding that some people present proper documentation before being allowed to cross. In fairness, the Tory party has some form on the distinctiveness of Kent – I seem to remember a certain E. Heath stating that he fully understood Welsh and Scottish aspirations, speaking as “a man of Kent”. (Although, apparently, for true Kentish folk, there is a clear distinction between being a Man of Kent and a Kentish Man; perhaps there’s scope for a further border across the county as well?) I do hope that the SNP won’t attempt to make fun of Jake like he did of them. Revenge is a bad look; besides, he doesn’t really need their help at all.

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