It was a shambolic retreat of catastrophic dimensions from Europe but no little ships were waiting this time for the rescue. The mood at the Home Front was of a glum frustration and rising irritation. In the meantime, 1.5 million British Citizens in Europe, left behind in the general retreat like scattered troops, are frightened for their now very uncertain future.
We are faced with a quantum physical-like Alice in Wonderland nightmare scenario, where all probabilities are in superposition until one of them is triggered to collapse into a reality without first knowing which one it will be. “Anything is possible”, Donald Tusk said. How true.
And so the White Rabbit disappears down the Black Hole with Alice in tow slipping through the Looking Glass into an alternative reality where she meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee who are promising her to come up with a cunning plan. Hallelujah!
But no such luck. Let’s face it, not even Baldrick of Blackadder fame could have managed to come up with “a cunning plan as cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University”.
It’s all as clear as porridge. Friday, 29 March 2019, the D-Day, the Exit-Day, the Key Date, when Britain was expected to cut loose from Europe, thus sailing into a new glorious and golden dawn, a new Empire, was set, when two years ago Article 50 was triggered by an over-eager but unprepared Prime Minister. Never since the suicidal “Charge of the Light Brigade” (remember the clueless Lord Cardigan?) has there been a more planless undertaking in British history with so far reaching results! After two years of time wasting, bitter in-fighting and total incompetence Westminster Parliament humiliated the Prime Minister twice by rejecting overwhelmingly her Brexit Deal. 29 March could no longer be held, so she sounded the retreat and asked Europe for an extension.
12 April is another Key Date in the seemingly never ending Brexit Saga. Until this date the Prime Minister, Tweedledum and Tweedledee or even Baldrick must come up with a way forward for consideration by the EU leaders. "All options will remain open" until this date. If on the other hand Parliament cannot approve the deal presented to them by the government, then Britain crashes out from the EU with a No Deal, a Hard Brexit with all the disastrous consequences. By that time it is also too late to revoke Article 50. D- Day. “D” as in Disaster.
If MPs do approve the deal then and only then an extension will be granted to 22 May 2019, to allow Britain to get the Brexit Show on the road.
Where are we now? At the time of writing (Friday morning) the Prime Minister cancelled her “Meaningful Vote” on Tuesday as a less than meaningless undertaking but instead MPs having taken control from the government starting to debate the process of voting on their preferred Brexit options, the so-called “indicative vote”. In the country and in Europe people started to rebel. Donald Tusk told MEPs they “cannot betray the six million people who signed the petition to revoke Article 50, the one million people who marched for a people’s vote or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the EU”. He said the people “may feel that they are not sufficiently represented by the UK Parliament but they must feel that they are represented by you because they are Europeans”. Increasingly it looks as if the Prime Minister has reached her Sell-By-Date. She generously offered her head on the platter, if the MPs accepted her deal on Friday (today), which she may or may not present for a third time.
In the meantime, on Wednesday night, the same MPs could not agree on their own eight “indicative votes” but will re-convene once more on Monday, 1 April (April Fool’s Day?) for an “indicative vote number 2” on the same eight Brexit options, now listed in order of preference as they have voted previously. It’s time to dig out your old copy of “Nostradamus” to see whether he prophesied a result?
So it has been finally left to our own version of the Oracle of Delphi to forecast a thoroughly undeterminable Brexit Future. Our two eminent, experienced experts on all things Brexit, Dr Alexander Christiani and Colin Munro CMG, former ambassadors and well versed in international affairs battled bravely and competently through the mess that presented itself to them, trying to make sense from it all even though they had no real answers to give. How could they?
“Previously on ‘ Brexit ’ ”.
Colin Munro’s synopsis on all the episodes, now in its third season, of the long running popular soap opera “Brexit” was full of hard hitting observations: “Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it!” Success, what success? There were negotiating blunders from the start.
Never threaten. “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal.” What Deal, you may also ask?
“Do they know what they want? Do they know what they are talking about?” Good question to which so far no answer could be found and probably never will.
Dusting off his crystal ball he prophesied that all these shenanigans will only lead to the break-up of the hitherto United Kingdom with Irish Re-unification and Scottish Independence.
On a pretty more serious note he commented that according to his expert opinion the UK electoral democratic system will ultimately need a thorough revamp.
Dr Alexander Christiani started his lecture with an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III” Act V, Scene IV where the embattled Prime Minister (instead of the King) yells: “A Deal, a Deal-my Kingdom for a Deal!” and concluded his introduction with the famous scene from the BBCTV-series “Yes, Prime Minister” with the hilarious exchange between the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister about the then Common Market (prophetic powers by the scriptwriters), which starts with:” I don’t want the truth, I want something I can tell Parliament!”. “Prime Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years: to create a disunited Europe…..” and ends with: “But surely we are all committed to the European ideal?” “Really…, Prime Minister!” “If not, why have we been pushing for an increase in the membership?” “Well, for the same reason. It’s just like the United Nations, in fact; the more members it has the more arguments it can stir up, the more futile and impotent it becomes.” “What appalling cynicism!” “Yes, we call it diplomacy, Prime Minister!”
From an optimistic “there must be a future together and there will be a future together” to a more despondent “Britain was always a vociferous champion of free trade and the single market in Europe…It is a travesty that the Prime Minister wants Britain to leave just now…” Dr Christiani acknowledged, nevertheless, that “despite its basic Eurosceptic stance- (Britain) has also made enormous contributions to the European project”.
On the future of the European Union without Britain Dr Christiani speculated that integration will continue and accelerate but enlargement will be put on the backburner.
He concluded with a quote (in German) from Bertold Brecht:
“Wir stehen selbst enttäuscht und sehn betroffen
Den Vorhang zu und alle Fragen offen.“
“We stand disappointed and watch with concern
The curtain fall and all the questions unanswered.”
Or as the Newspaper “The Independent” writes: “Nothing, in its own terrifying way, has changed. Nothing ever will. Nothing ever can. A nation buried alive by Brexit.”
Still, let us rejoice! The ubiquitous Café Ministerium, decked in flags from Austria, EU, United Kingdom, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland threw a magnificent party which clearly was enjoyed by members and guests alike.
And finally: We all know that Vienna for the tenth time in succession ranks as the unassailed Number One in the World for Quality of Life with London, alas nowhere to be seen.
What is not widely known is that in the World Ranking of Smart Cities Vienna also topped the league in the Number One slot with London right behind us as Number Two. At least some good news for them.