Why Brexit has made me join the gym

Pro-EU campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament ahead of Brexit day. Photograph: Dominic Lipinsk

Pro-EU campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament ahead of Brexit day. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

It's not just turning 50 that has made MITCH BENN want to get in shape. He's dreams of watching the wheels fall off the Brexit bandwagon.

I've started going to the gym again.

There are a few reasons for this: firstly, I've found a local gym which is run by and in aid of a charity benefiting the homeless, so while it's not that much cheaper than the 'big name' gyms it doesn't quite bring that same feeling of being mercilessly financially punished for being unfit.

Secondly, I just need to get fitter in general; I'm already putting the bones of this year's Edinburgh Fringe show together; the festival starts in a little over five months and it's always a much less gruelling experience if you're not too out of shape when you arrive.

But the main reason I want to buck my ideas up a bit fitness-wise is the fact that I've now turned 50 and I want to live long enough to see the wheels come off the Brexit bandwagon and the architects of our current bizarre and unnecessary predicament held, to whatever extent, accountable.


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I'm not under any illusions that there will ever be any real ramifications to be suffered by the Bringers of Brexit - that sort of thing just doesn't happen to that sort of person in this sort of country. I just want to be here when the truth finally comes out in a way that not even the true believers can ignore any more.

And it's by no means a certainty that I will be: if I'm lucky I have maybe another 20 or 25 years left on the clock, and barring any utterly unforeseeable circumstance I'm going to spend at least the next five of them under the rule of Boris Johnson's Fantasy Politics League. Considerably more if Rebecca Long-Bailey wins the interminable Labour leadership contest.

This final phase of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership is now so insanely protracted as to make the denouement of the third Lord of the Rings movie feel like the end of the last episode of The Sopranos by contrast. And while we're here, how utterly typical that Corbyn refused to rule out accepting a post in the next shadow cabinet; nice one, St. Jezza, you've just condemned your successor, whoever they may be, to alienating roughly half the membership the minute they're installed. Either they don't offer you a job, and lose the Corbyntologists, or they do, and lose everyone else.

The mature, statesmanlike response would have been to say that it's time to let a new regime have a go, and besides, it's not like you don't know how to make a difference from the back benches. There, how hard was that? For the love of Zarquon, man, get thee to an allotment.

Apart from anything else, it means that smart alec commentators like me end up having to squander priceless column inches despairing of Labour's ineptitude when we should be devoting all our energies to tearing this chaotic, mendacious and shifty government a new one. To think that many people - including, I'll be honest, myself - wondered what, if anything, we Remainers would have to talk about once Brexit had been "got done"?

It's not hard to come up with topics; if anything, it's harder to know where to start. It's not an embarrassment of riches, just an embarrassment of embarrassment.

Just in the last couple of weeks we've had the installation and immediate de-installation of one of Dominic Cummings' 'superforecasters', Andrew Sabisky, who had somehow failed to superforecast that a background of advocating eugenic social cleansing of the lower orders, proclaiming certain ethnic groups genetically inferior and dispensing grotesquely misogynist online relationship advice might not be compatible with a job at even Boris Johnson's Number 10. There's a very fine line between dauntless iconoclasm and just being a dick to get attention; Cummings himself straddles that line uncomfortably.

This coincided excruciatingly with the unveiling of the Borisistas' bizarre and unworkable immigration plan. Well I say it's unworkable, I guess it depends what you mean by 'work'. It can't and won't 'work' if 'work' means improving the lot of indigenous Brits while providing a sensible mechanism for admitting newcomers, but it's already 'worked' in the sense of achieving its actual purpose; to reward racists for their support of the government by giving them all a bit of a tingle.

Even Priti Patel was forced to admit that such a plan might have prevented her own existence had it been in place in the 1960s. But this government is nothing if not consistent in its hypocrisy.

Right, I'm off to the gym. I'll start with 20 minutes on the treadmill, I think; may as well combine my cardio with an apt metaphor for life in Brexit Britain: huffing and sweating and going nowhere.

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