It was hot so we were glad to be ushered across the tarmac and into the airport terminal. Though to be honest, Bergerac International more resembles a large shed than a gleaming arrivals hall but at least it was out of the sun. Dutifully we lined up, passports at the ready and snaked our way up and down the aisles Sadly no ladders. The plane had been full of Brits, as you would expect of a flight bound for Cotswolds en Dordogne. One lady near the front of the queue nervously looked up at the signs – EU and non-EU – and gave a smile as she hesitated. We all got the joke. Soon we were all deliberately hesitating, looking up at the signs, scratching our heads, shrugging our shoulders and advancing towards the immigration officials. I’m not sure they got the joke but they smiled politely. Which is more than you get from American Passport Control. Or is that Homeland Security?
For that is what Brexit has become – a joke. It is typical of the British sense of humour to laugh at the incompetence of our political masters. Third runway for Heathrow? We’ve been discussing that since the Second World War. A hot summer? Appoint a Minister for Drought (and then it rains). HS2? In the time that has elapsed since the idea was proposed (during which not a single sleeper has been laid), Isambard Kingdom Brunel had already built his magnificent London-Bristol railway. I have not met a single person who has not given a hollow laugh whenever the subject of Brexit has been raised. It is a shambles, a British cock-up of gigantic proportions. I refer not to the referendum itself and its result but the process of implementing the decision. It reminds me of the prevarication of our political masters in the face of rising totalitarianism in pre-War Germany.
The point is that our political masters are no longer regarded as our masters but our servants. They are elected to carry out our will, that of the electorate, that is, those of us who have put them there. But they don’t seem to get that. They argue amongst themselves as to what sort of Brexit they think will be best for the country, for the electorate, for the people, as if the rest of us - who have already decided - “are not in full possession of the facts”, ie, are too stupid to know what’s good for us. In point of fact, everybody is fed up to the back teeth with the lot of them. Get on and do it! Nobody said it was going to be easy but at the moment they resemble a group of kids lost on an orienteering exercise, ignorant of their north from their south. And my exasperation can be compared to that felt by the teacher who has to clamber into his car to go and rescue the incompetent blockheads.
My guess is that things will sort themselves out eventually. They usually do. Incompetence is not the same as malfeasance. Life will go on much as before. I doubt the doomsayers with their dire warnings of financial and economic catastrophe. Britain will continue to do what it has been doing for centuries, trading with whomsoever it can. I cannot imagine a different scenario. But the government ministers and their appointees will pay the price for this embarrassing shambles. The British public is quick to laugh off the blunders of its political class but it rarely forgets.