MITCH BENN: My song for Bill

Mich Benn's 'Song for Bill' is now avaliable on YouTube. Picture: YouTube

Mich Benn's 'Song for Bill' is now avaliable on YouTube. Picture: YouTube - Credit: Archant

Following a call from Exmouth, comedian Mitch Benn writes a rock parody song to offer an olive branch of understanding and cooperation to all the regretful Leave voters.

I'm typing this while waiting for a video clip to 'render' (ie. be saved in a usable form); it's taking a while, as my wheezy old laptop is being stretched to capacity by the unnecessarily complex video I'm in the process of editing.

The video is to accompany a song I've written which was inspired by a call my fellow arch-Remainer James O'Brien took on his LBC radio show a few days ago; you may already know which call I'm referring to, as the clip of the incident went viral almost immediately thereafter.

A caller named Bill from Exmouth phones in to express his regret at having voted Leave in 2016, and his distress (and guilt) at the grim spectacle of what Brexit has become, and, moreover, the grimmer prospect of what it will (should it go ahead unhindered) become in due course.

James tries to reassure Bill that it's not he who is to blame but rather those politicians and press barons who have spent 30 years bombarding Bill (and all of us) with europhobic propaganda, and urges Bill to react with anger rather than shame, but Bill breaks down in audible tears, sobbing 'What have I done to my country?'

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My song also seeks to assuage Bill's conscience, albeit via the means of a somewhat bizarre rock parody (you'll have to see the video), and indeed, by implication, tries to offer an olive branch of understanding and cooperation to all the regretful Leave voters out there (we may never know their number; I'm willing to bet it's far more than can ever be officially confirmed).

I've been at pains to point out in the various articles, speeches and songs I've put out on the topic of Brexit over the last two and a half years that it's vitally important to apportion blame and compassion where they belong; that the Leave voters were, for the most part, doing what they sincerely believed was the right thing to do, and the fact that they had been persuaded of this by charismatic but entirely unscrupulous men pursuing political and financial agendas of their own shouldn't be held against them. Let he among us who has never been played for a sucker cast the first stone.

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Whatever awaits us in the months ahead, we will need those ex-Leavers on board. They can make our case heard by those who might otherwise refuse to listen to it on principle. Such has been the schismatic effect of the referendum (and the invective which has abounded in its aftermath) that for some people, the mere fact that someone voted the other way back in 2016 instantly disqualifies their opinions on Brexit, if not everything.

Our side isn't blameless in this regard. Just because we've had the political establishment and almost the entirety of the popular media lambasting us as traitors for the last 29 months doesn't mean we can't rise above it if there's a useful alliance to be forged.

If we're going to flatter ourselves that we're the smart ones, the open-minded ones, the patient and forbearing ones, we need to act like it.

Not that we need to start trying to build bridges with the unrepentant Brexiteers; the ones still insisting that all you have to do is believe and blaming us for the fact that everything we warned them about three years ago turned out to be true. Don't bother with them; anyone still on the Brexit bandwagon now all four wheels have fallen off is beyond the reach of reason.

James O'Brien himself successfully predicted the current state of affairs a few months ago; there can never be a successful Brexit deal, he pointed out, because the minute it's defined, one of the interested parties will reject it.

While Brexit has been discussed in terms of abstract concepts and general principles it's possible for all concerned to nod along, but as soon as anything specific goes down on paper someone will find it unacceptable.

Right now it's obvious to me that the deal which the prime minister has managed to get the EU27 to approve will never get through parliament for the very reason that the EU27 have approved it.

Anything which the 'faceless mandarins of Brussels' are willing to sign off on will never be accepted by the 'bloody foreigners' rump of the Conservative party, and it's worth bearing in mind that this whole sorry enterprise has, since day one, been carried out in order to pander to that very constituency.

Indeed it's almost unbearably ironic to reflect, as one contemplates the pinstriped knife-fight into which the parliamentary Conservative party presently descends, upon the fact that David Cameron's primary purpose in calling the 2016 EU referendum was to shore up divisions between rival factions of Tories.

Stay in the shed, Dave. For the love of God, man, stay in the damn shed.

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