Debagging Boris

The philosopher AC Grayling’s argument in this week’s New European for not accepting the legitimacy of last year’s Brexit vote – – is compelling; so compelling, in fact, as to raise the question of how far it would be permissible to go in order to nullify Brexit. Obviously any Parliamentary means would be permissible, but is unlikely in view of MPs’ craven kowtowing, as Grayling points out, and against their own better judgments, to the bullies of the tabloid press. I think this is the first time in history that Parliament, which is supposed to be our sovereign political authority, has been (effectively) circumvented on the way to a major decision affecting the whole nation. So much for the Brexiteers’ declared aim to restore British sovereignty. – The other ‘legitimate’ means of protest is, of course, protesting. There have been plenty of anti-Brexit marches and demos over the past year. But does anyone think they can have any effect?

The grotesqueries of the Brexit decision last June – unconstitutional, highly marginal, skewed by blatant lies, and involving only a minority of the total electorate – might suggest that this is one of those rare occasions when an extra-parliamentary and extra-legal struggle against it might be morally acceptable. That could take a number of forms. I personally would stop well short of serious violence against persons, though ‘debagging’ Boris Johnson in public has a certain attraction, and would be a familiar humiliation, I imagine, from his school days. Otherwise what is open to us outside the law? Mass tax-avoidance, with the money being sent to Brussels instead, might be an option. Hunger-strikes, lying down in roads, illegally raising EU flags on public buildings, digging up golf courses, refusing to fill in census forms, hijacking radio and TV stations and chaining ourselves to railings are others. There’s a whole armoury of methods we can draw on from history, especially anti-colonial movements and the suffragettes. Of course every one would need to be well organised, on a decent scale, and clearly signposted for what it is. (There’s no point in starving oneself if no-one knows what it’s for.) Any more suggestions?

Otherwise we unregenerate ‘remoaners’ are simply left to stew in silence. ‘Get over it!’ say the Brexiteers. That’s difficult in the face of such an existential political mis-step. ‘If you don’t like it, go and live elsewhere.’ Well, I may well do that, when my Swedish citizenship comes through; though that might make me even more resentful at being cut off geographically and politically from the England I used to love. And it might give me twinges of guilt at not having stayed behind to help the Resistance. Now if only we could de-bag Boris…. I’d come back for that.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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