BRITAIN’S favourite pastime today reminds me of that old dance of my mis-spent youth in Hebden Bridge: “Let’s all do the hokey-cokey”. We are all at it – the Brexit blame game, that is – so why not go with the flow?
This is my initial assessment now, to confound my optimism last week, Boris Johnson will not meet his “die in the ditch” deadline for leaving the European Union tomorrow.
That will do nothing for Halloween this year – unless it inspires those carvers of pumpkins to become cartoonists. Depicting Jeremy Corbyn would be a real challenge unless, as advocated by environmentalists, they use the mush inside for his stubble.
I shall, however, save my brickbats for Corbyn until later. First up in the blame game is Sir Edward Heath for entangling us in the Common Market in the first place – and on a false prospectus, too.
He has much to answer for, especially as in 1962 I reported Hugh Gaitskell at Labour’s party conference saying a federal Europe would be “the end of a thousand years of history”.
Second, Harold Wilson, for cementing us into the Common Market in 1975 by going for a referendum, ironically also to unite his party.
People like Margaret Thatcher and myself, who voted two to one to remain, ought to have known better, even if the Common Market was thought likely to improve our economic condition.
That was an extraordinary delusion, given that it was obvious that the ruthless abuse of trade union power was holding Britain back. How on earth could we think we could prosper anywhere in a decade when the unions staged nearly 26,000 strikes and cost 128m working days?
Still, some of us soon repented. My conversion came on the road to successive European summits well before Mrs Thatcher’s 1988 Bruges speech warning the EU it was going down the wrong route towards a federal Europe.
My third black spot goes to David Cameron for holding another referendum in 2016 in the belief that it would root us firmly in the EU (and unify the Tory Party). With Harold Wilson, he will go down in history as the Great Miscalculator.
This brings me to those impervious to reason for 30 years or more. I refer to the Heseltines, Lawsons, Majors, Clarkes, Blairs, Mandelsons, Campbells, Browns and Cleggs whose ill-famed defeatism causes them to believe that an independent, sovereign United Kingdom can no longer flourish in this world.
I would add the Treasury and Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In my experience, they have always had a remarkable intellectual conceit, often to the exclusion of all judgment.
I shall not waste much time on the so-called Liberal Democrats who constitute a permanent fifth column in the British body politic, incorrigibly Europhile even as the EU sinks into recession.
Words fail me – a serious problem for a columnist – when it comes to the Scottish Nationalists and others with a similar negative approach to the Union. Where is the logic in their wanting independence from the English but subservience to Brussels?
And why, unless it is as daft as a brush, should the EU take them on when they have amply demonstrated their expensive administrative incompetence?
This brings me to the undemocratic EU itself for driving for federalism and over three years, fearing other defections, putting on an impressive display of vindictiveness and ill-concealed contempt towards Britain only to discover, under pressure from vested interests, the need for an agreed Brexit.
Labour has played politics over Europe until it has lost itself in its contradictions. For HM Loyal Opposition read utterly confused rabble. The Tory Europhile rump is no better. They are as treacherous towards the 17.4m Leave voters as to their successive party leaders.
Finally, the Tory leadership. I find it difficult to condemn Theresa May who was too well brought up to cope with this lot and the brass necks in Brussels. She admits the naughtiest thing she has ever done is run through a wheat field as a child.
You can’t say that of Boris Johnson, the current Prime Minister, as Britain stands on the brink of a first December election since 1923.
Boris the Boyo has succeeded where Mrs May failed. He has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a generally acceptable – and accepted – Brexit agreement only for the Parliamentary rabble, orchestrated by Blithering Bercow, a Speaker who clearly does not know right from wrong, to sabotage immediate early departure.
Only one man comes out this unholy mess smelling of roses: Boris the Blond Bombshell. He deserves to win in the end – and, mark my words, he will, hands down.