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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle takes minds off Brexit – but not for long

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, after the announcement of their engagement. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Has the constant reel of Brexit news got you pulling your hair out? Comedian and musician MITCH BENN looks at one piece of news this week that has taken minds off of Brexit.

Hey folks. Do you sometimes find yourself longing for the days when I – and everyone else – had other things to talk about besides Brexit?

When each day wasn’t another step further down the path of pointless elective jingoistic self-destruction? When you didn’t find yourself tearing your hair out with disbelief and rage at the first news story you read each morning – and know that was probably as good as the day was going to get?

Yeah, me too.

Well perhaps with this in mind, the news Gods have granted us something else to talk about; I refer of course to the happy announcement of the coming nuptials of Prince Harry (or The Old Ginger Bullet Magnet, as his unit in Afghanistan used to call him) and Ms Meghan Markle, whose delightfully alliterative name leads one to hope that she might be the secret alter-ego of a superhero, but who I’m given to understand is an American television star of some years’ standing.

One thing I will say about this generation of royals is they do appear to find their life partners in much the same way the rest of us do.

That is to say, they meet someone nice, ask them out, knock about for a bit, buy a ring, get married and have kids (even if it appears that Harry was moving in some fairly rarified circles when he met his someone nice).

Heretofore, noble families seemed to match up their heirs and spares in much the same fashion as they bred their horses; it was all about bringing good breeding stock into the bloodlines (once it wasn’t about cementing alliances with foreign courts, of course).

The failure of three out of four of the previous generation of royal children’s first marriages may or may not reflect this, but it’s fair to say that Wills and Kate (and thus far Harry and Meghan) do seem to be genuinely gooey about each other in a way one doesn’t traditionally associate with royalty.

There has been the expected rash of gushing puff pieces, as well as a few remarking on how Markle isn’t your usual royal girlfriend material given that she’s not only American and ‘in showbiz’ but also mixed race, if that’s still a term one uses – one tries to keep up with developments in acceptable terminology; apologies if I’m behind the curve.

There was even a bizarrely pursed-lipped piece in The Spectator opining that Markle is as unsuitable a partner for Harry as Wallis Simpson was for Edward VIII, since she too has been previously married and divorced. And since it’s still 1936, apparently, in Spectatorland at least (admittedly the article could have been a parody, but if so it was a weirdly unfunny one).

There have also, of course, been a few conspiratorially-minded types suggesting that the couple have in some way been stooged by the Government into making this announcement now, in order to create some ‘happy news’ to divert the public’s attention from the vortex of lunacy which is Brexit. I don’t know about you, but I’d be vaguely reassured at the thought that this administration was organised enough to pull off that sort of Machiavellian intrigue.

As it is, what the Government DID do was instantly rain on this PR parade before it had even gotten started by announcing that no, there will NOT be a national holiday on the occasion of Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Handed the first bit of potentially diversionary good news in months, our wise and beloved leaders took one look at it and thought ‘nah’.

THAT’s the kind of competence we’ve come to expect from this regime. Presented with an open goal, they wouldn’t just knock it over the bar, they’d BREAK the bar, set fire to the goalposts and burst the ball.

Returning to Brexit, as alas we must, the main topic of consternation this week has been Ireland, and the chaos likely to descend upon that blameless country (countries, in fact, given that Northern Ireland voted remain) when/if a hard border between the Republic and the North is put in place after 2019. Brexiteers have sought to dismiss the – entirely legitimate – concerns of those living along that border, with the professionally wrong Brendan O’Neill achieving whole new levels of wrongness by accusing Ireland of yielding to EU pressure by inventing spurious objections to the border in order to undermine Brexit, as if there were anything still beneath Brexit TO undermine.

He describes the ongoing resistance to Brexit as ‘a revolt of the elites against the public’, when the whole misbegotten Brexit enterprise was in fact an attempt by the real elite – the Conservative Party, tax-averse billionaires and the right-wing media – to shore up their own fortunes at the EXPENSE of the public.

There’s no conspiracy to use ‘the Irish question’ to derail Brexit, just as there was no vindictiveness in the (inevitable) disqualification of British cities from being eligible as the European Capital of Culture.

It’s simply the case that the Brexiteers hadn’t thought about either of these things. Just as they hadn’t thought about Gibraltar. Or the residence rights of British expats living in Spain, or of bi-national families in the UK. Or lorry jams at Dover, or immigration queues at airports.

Let’s face it, the Brexiteers didn’t really THINK about very much at all. Except jam. And blue passports.

Meanwhile, the Irish situation, parlous as it is, offers a beacon of hope. Because in the end, the only solutions might be either a fully fortified and MILITARISED border, or, indeed, a united Ireland with a re-absorbed North choosing the EU over the UK.

Best of luck selling either of THOSE options to the DUP, Mrs May.

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