Make it stop, someone, please

My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.


There’s a part of me that thinks March 29th can’t come round quickly enough. At least then, once the Brexit deadline has passed, we will know what we’ve got. Or not got. Then we will just have to deal with it.

Quite what the rest of the world must think of us I dread to think. The government plans for a no-deal Brexit include a contract with a ferry firm that doesn’t actually have any ferries yet. OK, so most ferry firms operate on a sort of lease basis for their ships, but it doesn’t exactly instil a sense of confidence in whoever is organising the plan B. Then, earlier this week they tried to see what sort of impact no-deal might have on the traffic of Kent if they used Manston Airport as a lorry park and sent lorries out onto our roads in regular convoys. The trouble is, there were very few traffic issues, mainly because some bright spark thought it would be good to tell the papers about it. So the good people of Kent decided to be sensible and stagger their journeys to and from work. That’s not something that we are going to be able to do every single day, post-Brexit, deal or no deal.

I suppose, if I am to be charitable – because who’s to say that any of us could actually have managed this any better? – I should point out that the government is as much in the dark about what will actually happen as anyone and that it’s doing the best it can. Maybe.

Anyway, now a bunch of MPs in Parliament have decided to limit the Government’s ability to cope with a no-deal, by adding an amendment to the Finance Bill preventing any extra taxes being raised to cope with no-deal. Presumably in an attempt to scare the rest of Parliament to vote for the deal that’s on the table.

We just need some certainty. None of this is doing any good for businesses in any part of the supply chain. Consumer confidence is way down, the High Street is clinging on by a thread, largely thanks to pre-Christmas sales and loads of my friends are having to pay £65 and get an Android phone in order to stay in the country they have raised their children and paid their taxes in. Any sector that relies on European labour is, rightly, wondering how the hell it will cope.

I just have no idea how this is going to pan out. What I do know though, is that things seem to have got nastier since 2016. You would have hoped that the appalling murder of Jo Cox at the height of the referendum campaigning would have been a shot across the bows to get people to realise that views are there to be respected, even if you don’t agree with them. The awful abuse that is being heaped on MPs of all sides, such as that hurled at Anna Soubry MP, on Monday, makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with people.

Maybe the best quote I’ve heard on all this, came from the rather wonderful Benedict Cumberbatch as Leave campaign puppet-master Dominic Cummings in Brexit: An Uncivil War on Channel 4 on Sunday. Called up in front of a select committee to explain why Brexit hasn’t yet gone as he promised it would, he said: “it’s all gone crap”. Yup.

So, like I said, come the end of March, we ought to know whether we did the right thing or the wrong thing. And we’ll just have to get on with it.


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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