MITCH BENN: Uncomfortably numb

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:14 15 February 2019

Pro Brexit supporters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the House of Commons vote on the Prime Minister's Brexit deal. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Pro Brexit supporters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the House of Commons vote on the Prime Minister's Brexit deal. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

There's precious little in the news other than Brexit, but not much in the overall situation is actually changing.

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I think I’m experiencing a kind of Brexit numbness. On the one hand, there’s precious little else in the news right now, as is entirely appropriate given that we’re about six weeks away from an act of deliberate national self-mutilation such as has never been recorded in history; on the other hand, very little is actually happening. Not much is changing in the overall situation: Brexit is coming, everyone knows it’s going to be terrible, but they all insist we’re going to do it anyway, rinse, repeat.

I’m reminded of the run-up to the Iraq War in late 2002 and early 2003. At the time I was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s satirical weekly programme The Now Show, and this was one of the most difficult periods to cover. Not because it was especially grim or harrowing – that came later – but because, again, it was the biggest story in the world for months but hardly anything changed from one week to the next.

“We Still Haven’t Invaded Iraq But It Looks Like We’re Going To” was the headline story for about four straight months. It’s hard enough to keep coming up with interesting angles on an unchanging story; to come up with funny angles on it (as was our job) was all but impossible.

So in the absence of a major Brexit development to analyse, I am going to give you a couple of individual thoughts:

With regard to the British ‘Yellow vests’, the luminous goons currently bringing so much unwelcome tension to the Brexit debate, I’ve had an idea as to how we can seriously undermine their whole movement: let’s all start wearing hi-vis jackets too.

Seriously; these bozos are gaining way more energy and attention than they merit by having adopted a uniform (although, as I previously pointed out, they lacked the imagination to come up with their own ‘look’ and had to steal the hi-viz motif from French anarchists) so let’s take that energy away from them by adopting that uniform too.

I’ve checked; hi-vis waistcoats cost about £4 each online (£6 if you want your own slogan printed on the back). If everybody were to slip one on every time we went out, there would be nothing special or telegenic about the Yellownumpties, and there would be a definite side-benefit in terms of road safety.

Certainly, anyone organising a counter-protest against the Yellowbellies (or a demo which is likely to attract their attention) should definitely hi-vis up if only to see the confused look on their little faces.

On the subject of tiresome attention seekers, I see that Nigel Farage has grown impatient waiting for the monthly phone call from the Question Time talent bookers and endorsed a new political party. Or not. It is always hard to keep track with Nigel, who quit and unquit as the leader of UKIP so many times that by the end even he seemed confused as to who was running things. Anyway, he’s now decried UKIP’s current leadership as “too extreme” and has instead joined the inevitably-titled Brexit Party, only to immediately distance himself from its founder Catherine Blaiklock when it emerged that she has a history of going off on anti-Muslim rants.

I do wish Nigel would admit that it’s never been about the EU, or British independence, but just about his own desperate need to get his face on the telly, and go enter Britain’s Got Talent along with rest of the everybody-look-at-me crowd.

Besides, we already have two Brexit Parties: the Conservatives and Labour.

Oh, and while I’m here; all those of you still insisting that Jeremy Corbyn is “playing the long game” and will spring into action “when the time is right” to deliver us from Brexit, could you do two things for me?

1. Watch that video of him denouncing the EU as a military/industrial conspiracy in 2010, and

2. Jump in the sea.

But returning wearily to Farage: it would be really good if the media, especially the television news and especially especially Question Time, got some self-respect and didn’t indulge his craving for publicity this time. He’s not a colourful eccentric, he’s not an expert on anything except hogging the limelight and if he is, as Julia Hartley Brewer called him, “the most influential British politician in a generation”, well maybe, but so was Neville Chamberlain. ‘Influence’ works both ways.

But credit where it’s due: Nigel Farage achieved something that the Nazis, the IRA and the 7/7 bombers all tried and failed to do.

Nigel Farage turned the people of Britain against each other. And for this he can never be forgiven.

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