Thank You Brexit, For Providing Some Comic Relief During These Dark Times


Thank You Brexit, For Providing Some Comic Relief During These Dark Times

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The last three years have been a particularly bad time for the world. Climate change, nationalism, economic slowdown, war, climate change (did I already mention that?), burning forests, corruption, authoritarianism, and so much more. Opening a newspaper is a guarantee that your mood is not getting any better. Don’t take my word for it – the United Nations themselves noted a period of global bleakness.

In the midst of all this, there’s only one thing that’s able to put a smile on some faces – no, not the latest Tool album – but Brexit.

Brexit, for those lucky enough not to know – is the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, for reasons I don’t want to get into right now. Leave it said that the move is a disastrous one for all concerned – most of all, the UK itself, who loses its largest trading partner. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of a mountaineer chucking out his oxygen tank while reaching the final stages of the Everest ascent because he didn’t like its colour.

Alright, so people have made poor decisions collectively in the past, and the will of the people must be respected, right? Fair enough, but the actual comedy came after the decision to leave, and almost instantly so. As soon as 51 per cent of the country voted to leave, searches from the UK for what Brexit actually was (or indeed, the EU itself) spiked.

To draw another painful analogy, this would be you getting through to a chemical engineering course, paying up the full fees for four years, and then going online to search for what a chemical engineer actually does (which is actually not too unrealistic, but I digress).

What should have been a simple divorce was anything but – ending up being a prolonged messy affair that still has no end in sight – despite going through three prime ministers (David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson), millions of pounds of public money, and time that could have been spent doing something else. That is, assuming that politicians actually do productive things. An optimistic view of Brexit is that it’s kept politicians busy for 30-odd months.

The two chief protagonists of Britain’s biggest comedy export of the last decade are studies in contrast. Theresa May is a politician who voted against Brexit, only to be saddled with the task of executing it. This reminds me of a time when I was in 6th grade, when my debate team partner was absent, leaving me to argue both sides of the case one after the other. Needless to say, I made a fool of myself then, as Theresa May did repeatedly for over two years. Hers was a premiership marred with much scorn and ridicule. The most defining moment of which probably was when she pushed for a general election, hoping to get more people from her party elected in a bid to make Brexit implementation easier. Lo and behold, the public elected fewer, exacerbating the implementation by adding more pro-remaining politicians to parliament. 

I often find myself heading to British news sites to see what the latest on Brexit is, and it never fails to provide a laugh.

The only possible analogy for that would be you being dissatisfied with your exam marks and sending the paper in for re-evaluation, only to end up with a worse grade than when you started. Oops.

Her successor, Boris Johnson, can be best summed up as the only person capable of making the whole Brexit fiasco worse… Er, funnier. He was once described by talk show host John Oliver as “a man with both the look and economic insight of Bam Bam from ‘The Flintstones.’”. Later, Trevor Noah said, “If you’ve ever thought, I really like Donald Trump and his policies and his hair, but I really just wish he could read, well, then Great Britain has the leader for you”.

Full of idiotic bluster, Johnson is a man who thinks overconfidence will compensate for a lack of substance. Alas, this is politics, not advertising and the European Union doesn’t respond like brand managers. This has led to an impasse – same as during the time of May – but now it seems less like bumbling in traffic and more like bulldozing off a cliff. 

Along the way, we’ve also got several moments of mirth from assorted other characters:

Nigel Farage, a chief propagandist for Brexit, was assaulted with milkshake, an act that has led to more such lactal attacks against nutjob politicians. Boris Johnson hilariously lost his majority as a member of his own party walked across the parliament room while the PM was talking. John Bercow, the UK’s already iconic House Speaker, seems to have taken his act up a notch during the debates. Jacob Rees-Mogg, another pro-Brexit politician, dragged England’s Cricket World Cup victory into this, saying this showed the country didn’t need the EU to win (a stupid statement by itself, but even stupider considering the protagonists of that win were, essentially, immigrants). And in the middle of all this, ousted and ridiculed former PM Theresa May was spotted gleefully smiling and unwinding by going on a hike. Comedy shows and podcasts have had a whale of a time, as have protesters. This is a country which has deployed cops to remove a demonstrator wearing an… Well, see for yourselves.

Phew! And while British politicians are doing everything in their power to make Yes, Minister redundant, the rest of the world looks on in glee. The global schadenfreude over the haughty once-colonists is palpable. Fed up with the desultory idiocy of Trump and dejection back home, I often find myself heading to British news sites to see what the latest on Brexit is, and it never fails to provide a laugh. 

Sadly though, all comedy shows must end (and by that I mean more Frasier, less Two And A Half Men). When Brexit happens, it will be disastrous for England, mostly. The three years since the decision to leave has given Europe enough time to make preparations, and major companies have moved their headquarters to Amsterdam and Paris. Britain itself will face higher prices, difficult food and medicine imports, and pretty much everything else you can think of when a country willingly cuts itself off.

Of course, eventually Britain will come to its senses, and possibly reintegrate as a half-competent future PM looks to undo this damage. Until then, savour Brexit. Enjoy it like the last few sips of a fine whiskey. It’s the comedy show the world needs right now.