Today, our free and fearless press has surveyed the wreckage of the Brexit vision they had sold to their readers, realised that the Vision And Boundless Hope And Optimism was no more, and decided … to ignore reality yet again. Instead of owning up, and admitting that Theresa May faces Phase 2 of the negotiations with the likelihood that it will bust her, her party, and even her country, we are now told that is is once again Full Steam Ahead.
This determination to maintain the disconnect from reality, though, needs some serious work to make it look moderately plausible, even to the most impressionable of readers, so the Empress Treeza has been personally roped in to lend what little credibility she has left to proceedings. Hence the Desmond Sunday Express proclaiming “MAY: I WON’T BE DERAILED … Brexit pledge to defy Remainer rebels and ‘build a better Britain’”.
The PM has also been talking to the increasingly downmarket and desperate Sunday Telegraph, whose interpretation is “May: I’ve proved doubters wrong”, although the Tel allows a little reality to intrude in the sub-heading “Prime Minister takes credit for initial Brexit deal but fears challenge to unite the Cabinet”. Thus she reminds us of the real reason Young Dave called the referendum - to hold the Tories together.
But there was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Ms May claims she will not be derailed, but already has been. She has dispelled no doubts. Also, her ministers and MPs are openly briefing against her: London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Michael “Oiky” Gove, Iain Duncan Cough and others are all in the vanguard here.
Moreover, the latest opinion poll on Brexit has opened up a 10 point gap in favour of Remain, much of this down to those previously undecided turning against the idea of leaving the EU. Ominously for the Tories, as well as 84% of both Greens and Lib Dems backing remain, 81% of SNP supporters do likewise - and 72% of Labour voters. Small wonder there is a shift in the thinking of the Labour leadership.
Worse for Ms May are the words of Michel Barnier, leading the negotiations for the EU, who has told “We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision”. No bespoke deals, sorry.
And yet worse is that while papers like the Murdoch Sun pretend that workers will benefit from an “overtime bonanza” if the Working Time Directive is scrapped, this would only prove true if (a) there was such an opportunity, (b) if the overtime were paid, and (c) if provisions such as holiday pay protections are maintained. Moreover, the Sun claiming the Directive costs each family £1,200 a year is pure invention, not for the first time.
The propaganda cannot paper over the cracks: Theresa May is hanging on by her finger ends, the public mood is slowly but inexorably shifting, and our free and fearless press is once again trying to piss into the teeth of a howling gale. It won’t work, folks. Give it up.