The battle for Brexit has become Britain’s own political soap opera but for some it’s becoming a drag

Mark Hughes

New words have come into fashion that seem to capture the nature of today’s UK

Every year the Oxford English Dictionary comes out with new words that have become common parlance.

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Words such as internet and skyping are now old hat.  This year we have a new set including the adjective fantoosh, which means to be fancy, showy, flashy in a disparaging way, implying pretentiousnesss.

We also have bampot: “A foolish, annoying, or obnoxious person; a belligerent or disruptive person. It’s often used as a contemptuous form of address.

What we don’t have this year yet is flextension, although it’s become in common usage.

It sounds like something that occurs in a gymnasium involving yoga but in reality it refers to yet another drawn-out delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union, if it even eventually goes ahead.

Such is the confusion no one really knows how matters will be resolved or whether parties could even split up.


Brussels seeks resolutions


Brussels has graciously consented to give the UK until Jan 31, 2020, to either hold an election – and only a fortune-teller could know where that will lead – pass the withdrawal agreement or call the whole thing off.

The UK Prime Minister could be called fantoosh and bampot over the whole shenanigans surrounding the referendum for the UK to leave the 28-nation free-trading European bloc.

If it does, it will certainly damage other European countries’ economies.

Johnson has strutted, disrupted, lied, sulked and been belligerent ever since the UK voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016. That’s 40 months ago.

He’s fought with colleagues. His father and sister disagree with leaving Europe. Even his brother, a minister in Johnson’s cabinet, walked away from his job, saying the chaos and the threat of a no-deal Brexit was damaging Britain’s status and economy.

Johnson told the House of Commons this weeek: “We will not allow this paralysis to continue and one way or another we must proceed straight to an election. The government will give notice of presentation for a short bill for an election on 12 December so we can finally get Brexit done. This House cannot any longer keep this country hostage.”

Sterling has been on a rollercoaster ride.

After ousting former prime minister Theresa May Johnson insisted he would “die in a ditch” rather than stay in the union beyond Oct 31.

There’s no sign of him in one yet, That would be the action of an unhypocritical Brexiteer, another relatively new word. And it is unlikely to happen now after he was defeated for a third time in a bid to hold a general election he believes he can win – and then take his country out of the EU.

MPs voted by 299 to 70 on Monday night in favour of the prime minister’s demand for an election on Dec 12. But this was below the threshold of 434 votes (two-thirds of all 650 MPs) he needed, under law, to trigger an early poll.

However, in another twist, immediately after he saw his latest push for an election fail,  Johnson revealed he will present legislation to parliament in a new attempt to get MPs to back a  December poll. Now Labour and the third party, the Liberal Democrats agree. By tabling a short bill to amend the 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the PM will now only need a simple majority of MPs to support an election, rather than the requirement to reach the 434-vote threshold.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has tried to cobble together an imperfect deal which at least serves to break the deadlock – and came up with one worse than May’s rejected proposal that led to her downfall.

The problem is that both major British parties  – The minority ruling Conservatives, also known as the Tories – and Labour are divided on the issue of Europe.

This is compounded by the fact that they are also split on the election issue. Labour is wary of it because it wants to go to the polls after what many of them consider to be the deleterious effects of Brexit have come into play.

They, and many Tories, fear a disaster for Britain’s economy. Some mention billions of dollars lost annualy.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has not impressed commentators or members by apparently dithering over the issues.

He’s reportedly pro-Brexit but heavily disliked by some Labour supporters for having woolly policies.


Damaging anti-semitic row


His party also got caught up in a damaging anti-semitic row.

The smaller parties have their own selfish reasons for agreeing to an election.They think it is now their best hope of scuppering Brexit altogether.

The Scottish National Party want to get the election out of the way before their former leader Alex Salmond’s trial on attempted rape and sexual assault charges in January.

They also believe a new Parliament might approve second referendums on both Brexit and Scottish independence.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party also wants to stay in the EU yet be part of the UK – and they were bribed to the tune of billions of dollars in a failed bid to prop up the oft-regarded dismal May.

Now the election has been called for Dec 12, the politicians will go straight into campaigning mode.

They’ll be on the media 24/7 – as if we are not already sick to the back of our teeth of the bickering as it is.

“Frankly, I’m sick of the sight and sound of politics and politicians,” said renowned British columnist Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail, a best-sellingpaper. that has veered from pro-Brexit to remain since a recent change of editor.


Workers’ rights scrutinised


To add regional significance to the issue, a major department of the European Union fears the UK will become a tax haven like Singapore with fewer rights for workers after Brexit.

The UK could turn into ‘Singapore-on-the-Thames’, according to the EU’s Department for Exiting Europe (DfEE).

In a document revealed by the Financial Times newspaper, the department said that the UK’s current Brexit trade declaration with regards to maintaining workers’ rights and environmental protection was “open to interpretation”.

Labour Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said the documents, which reportedly had Downing Street input, “confirm our worst fears”. She said: “Boris Johnson’s Brexit is a blueprint for a deregulated economy, which will see vital rights and protections torn up.

“Under his proposals, this Conservative government has no intention of maintaining high standards after we leave the EU.” And she is on his side regarding leaving the EU.


Singapore element


Singapore is regarded as a tax haven because it charges just 17 percent on corporation profits but nothing on dividends, inheritance or capital gains.

The country has faced criticism for its treatment of migrant workers.

According to Amnesty International, migrant workers do not enjoy basic privileges such as standard working hours, rest days, minimum wage and access to employment benefits.

It is claimed the recruitment fees of foreign workers can be up to 40 percent of their salary in their two-year contract.

Mr Johnson this week told MPs the UK was committed to ‘the highest possible standards’ on workers’ rights and environmental protection.

He said the stance helped to convince 19 Labour MPs to back his Withdrawal Agreement Bill    on Tuesday. But we know he tells lies.

It’s time to get the popcorn out and wait to see what comes next. For now, it looks like there will be use for another new word for 2019 – dof – stupid, dimwitted, uninformed and clueless.

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