Tuesday, 13 November 2018

MRS MAY, MR BECKETT AND THE BREXIT ENDGAME

"The negotiations for our departure are now in the endgame," said Mrs Theresa May on the evening of 12 November, at the Lord Mayor's Banquet in The Guildhall, a suitable occasion to celebrate the kamikaze-like devotion to a display of the splendor of British (or English) sovereignty. It came a day after the ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of "the war to end all wars". The BBC Radio 4 Now Show was more perfectly ironic in describing the Remembrance Day ceremony as honoring the lives of hundreds of thousands of Englishmen who gave their lives in defense of Brussels.

But it was odd that May should choose a word recalling Samuel Beckett's play to describe the negotiations which would stretch until three in the morning that very morning, and which appear to offer very little to anyone. May's genius has been to divide her own party into three factions, one more than plagued Offshore Dave Cameron, which means that every aspect of the Brexit debate is now 'covered' by BBC by presenting all three sides of the Tory party: 'Irish Jake' Rees-Mogg and the errrggghhhh group of hard-line No Deal Brexiters; the Remoaners led by the latest opportunistic Johnson, JoJo, the one who gave Toby Young a job regulating university students, until someone noticed; and May's backers (the hapless Damien Green in the BBC Radio 4 Today knees-up I heard a few days ago) for whatever piecemeal 'deal' she manages to get in the end, hampered by the fact that Michel Barnier and the EU play chess while she plays Chequers. Put May, Mogg, Green and JoJo together and you could stage a production of Waiting For Go Now.

In Beckett, and much of Theatre of the Absurd, life is meaningless, and we cope with the existential anguish that knowledge produces by engaging in rituals that create a sort of meaningful structure for our existence. As metaphors for May's Brexit Britain, you could much much worse.

Keping that in mind, the endgame, as it were, of Endgame is instructive. Watch Clov's final speech again; you can find Michael Gambon's version here. "You cried for night - it falls. Now cry in darkness"

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