The Great Die-Off: The Brexit Comet and the Extinction of a Political Class of Dinosaurs

Brexit does not make any sense, right? Maybe it has been a matter of perspective all along.

Perhaps the inconsistencies witnessed throughout can make a bit more sense if one is to observe them from the prism of self-preservation (aka survival) on behalf of a whole class of politicians who know their careers are over once Brexit disappears from the political landscape.

Whether the UK leaves the EU with an agreement, no agreement, or (hopefully) does not leave at all, the most prominent contemporary players in parliament are sure to be met with redundancy.

This is not a partisan issue either, for this logic is mostly applicable to individuals, rather the parties themselves. Although, if one considers the progressive fragmentation of both Labour and the Conservatives, coupled with the emergence of the Independent Group (the first credible, non-established proto-party to appear in recent history), then maybe this effect can spread towards the party system itself.

Only time will tell.

Focusing mainly on individuals though –anyone from May, to Corbyn, Farage, Johnson etc. –, I believe them to be very much aware that Brexit was the comet set out to extinguish their entire class of political dinosaurs.

Basically, those who tried to profit opportunistically from an unsustainable crusade against an enemy that did not exist, are slowly realising that, what appeared to be the career move of a lifetime, was actually political suicide.

The Usual Suspects

Although some players have been quicker than others in foreseeing the oncoming destruction of their careers, it is not hard to draw a map of those who magically disappeared, or attempted to postpone Brexit, in direct proportion to the difficulty of implementing an unsustainable plan.

In other words, once it became clear that their individual careers and interests were at risk, they simply put down the Brexit ‘hot-potato’, pretended they never touched it to begin with, and walked away; Only to give room to the next ego-tripping opportunist who believes he or she can turn excrement into gold.

Considering the large number of individual players involved in Brexit, I will focus on its most prominent or mediatic actors, and how personal motivations make much more rational sense than the pursuit of a ‘common good’ when explaining their actions.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it is a step towards the conceptualisation of a framework that sees Brexit as a conglomerate of selfish decisions, rather than a governmental or institutional pursuit.

David Cameron

The epicentre of this unnatural disaster would certainly be the former Prime Minister. His lack of intelligence was only outweighed by his inexplicable confidence in believing that he intimately knew the society he was supposed to serve.

The fact that he gambled with the future of a once great nation, in order to appease a emergent far-right by means of humouring it, only to consolidate his own power in the process, shows just how his personal motivations trumped his obligation to serve his country.

Cameron lost his bet, which meant that holding onto his post would destroy whatever credibility he had, and with it any chances of existing as a professional in this world ever again. Consequently, he disappeared even before the bomb deployed hit the ground.

Nigel Farage

The man who (with others) made sure to agitate and exploit the hearts and minds of economically frail and (mostly) undereducated Britons, while simultaneously bringing out the worst of mankind to the fore.

Farage incited hate, racism and xenophobia in very vocal and direct forms. And he did so in order to pursue a hollow ideological dream, that set about to destroy the European Union, with no fundament in reality nor facts.

And for what?

So he can still hold on by the skin of his teeth to a EU-issued pension?

He rowed in the same direction as the likes of Tommy Robinson, selling an entire country down the river, only to swiftly disappear just before he could be held accountable for his actions.

Boris Johnson

It took him a while to realise he was risking his entire career for the unachievable fantasy of becoming Prime Minister.

Boris is the ultimately career politician, from his education to his professional path, it is apparent that he has one goal: to be Prime Minister. Therefore, he stuck around long enough to exhaust all his options.

In a very summarised manner, Johnson’s Brexit roadmap can be drawn like this:

(1) When Cameron departed, Boris tried and failed to be chosen as the replacement;

(2) When Theresa May started to struggle as a Prime Minister, he attempted to remove and replace her, without any success;

(3) Once Boris realised the long-term risk of being perpetually associated with Brexit, he faded into the background in the hopes of being forgotten by the public at large.

Theresa May

Being probably the most transparent and destructive of all actors, it is clear to see that all her moves have been incredibly self-motivated.

May took the opportunity of being Prime Minister without accessing the cost. Her acceptance of the role was something akin to an impulse-buy, where one just grabs something from a shop without looking at the price, utility, or consequence of the purchase.

It is now clear that she is ‘stuck’ with the job, for both her personal and professional credibility have been obliterated in the past few years. May is so tied-up in the process by now, that she has every interest in dragging it as far as she humanely can.

For the Prime Minister delaying Brexit in order to stay in office is all she can do, for this is probably the last office she will ever hold.

Jeremy Corbyn

Having a different approach, and maybe even dissimilar motivations with regards to Brexit, the leader of the opposition has probably divided the Labour party in an unprecedented way.

If one is imaginative enough to look beyond ideological ‘colours’, his actions form a pattern similar to that of Theresa May:

They are both holding onto their positions, regardless of consequences or inconsistencies in their behaviour, and without any regard for the proverbial ‘common good’.

As much as May is dragging Brexit in order to extend her career’s longevity, so is Corbyn, by holding back on his support of a second referendum as far as he humanely could, only to strategically back the ‘People’s Vote’ just in time of enhancing the chances of bringing his career into overtime.

Corbyn is actually a really interesting case study in and of itself, which I already observed in another article.

Time Waits for No One

In a nutshell, Brexit is like a ticking timebomb which everyone knows is bound to explode; Although nobody knows how or when. Consequently, the established political classes are trying to postpone the inevitable as much as they humanly can, for the sake of their careers.

The perspective of professional survival would be enough to justify a lot of erratic and nonsensical actions, which are only incomprehensible if one is thinking that those ‘in charge’ are acting according to the country’s best interests.

Somewhat like Churchill during peacetime, all current political players will become irrelevant and ineffective once Brexit is over.

Observing & Commenting.● MSc Comparative Politics ■ London School of Economics and Political Science《》 B.A. Journalism & Media ■ Birkbeck, University of London