Poor Theresa May. Since the Brexit referendum announcement of June 2016, Aunty T has been there to lead negotiations with those big, bad, faceless Eurocrats. And now, crestfallen and brow-beaten, she bears the wearied expression of a ghost somehow haunted by its own horrors.
Whether you’re a leaver, remainer or don’t-give-a-flying-f**ker, the whole Brexit ordeal has been inescapable and, seemingly, neverending. We’ve been smothered by a bottomless pit of news coverage, opinion, talking heads, panel-show debates and, predominantly, vacuous guff. Considering this cauldron of confusion and delay (The Fat Controller would have sorted this mess right out) has been bubbling away for 2 and a half years, we seem to know less as more is uttered. And so, as the Bullingdon Boys handed the grenades to May before cravenly disappearing out of shot, Mother Theresa – the Remainer – was to be the ubiquitous scapegoat to unite both sides of the debate; a permanent figure on our TV screens, delivering empty sloganeering with all the conviction of a mollusc in a knife fight.
For many political commentators – i.e. everyone you know on Twitter – the inept handling of our generation’s most critical political moment has presented the opposition with countless opportunities to capitalize. May’s opposite number – marrow enthusiast and friend of the odd political extremist, Jezza Corbyn – is very much a leader for these times: Utterly divisive in every way, with barely any middle ground for nuance. He is the bearded marmite of British politics. For some, the antithesis to the BS politicians who dominate; for others, his Euroscepticism has held the party back. Then there are a sizeable group who believe he is, in actuality, a “Disaster socialist” masquerading as a kindly uni professor. Whatever he represents, he now presides over a splintered opposition with many dissenting voices in his own party. With defecting MP’s from both of Britain’s established parties converging to form the new Independent Group, Britain feels more divided than ever. What do you guys make of it all?
You lot don’t hold back do you? Not if the facebook quotes are anything to go by…
“Guy Fawkes might have been onto something. Get rid of all of them useless tw*ts. Give it to the Queen till end of the season”
“Theresa May’s deal is a compromise designed to please everyone, in a divided nation / Parliament, but has inevitably satisfied nobody. Leavers argue it’s not enough, and Remainers ask ‘is that it’?”
“In the spirit of casting off unelected foreign bureaucrats the Island should have its own referendum on independence. Or just keep allowing that bunch of clowns to handle our international affairs, because it’s easier”
The Gef instagram poll reached out to you – yes you specifically – and the results make for fascinating viewing:
If you could have voted in the referendum, 77% of you would’ve voted remain.
78% of you think Theresa’s negotiating skills were a clusterfu*k
And, in the event of a general election, it’s a 59% to 41% victory for Corbyn.
It seems then, that a slight majority of Manxies want a Labour government. What then, does the Manx Labour Party make of it all? MLP member and magnificently named Bond Villian-in-waiting Ged Power discussed further…
What does this mean for the Man Isle? Manxit?!
Just before Christmas, Chief Minister Howard Quayle reassured us that we were as prepared as we could be for a ‘No Deal Brexit’. Our fuel is supplied from outside the EU and both food and medicine had been accounted for in discussions with the UK. There are concerns over some fruit shortages, although Quayle did not specify which fruits – BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL NOT THE SWEET AND SUCCULENT KUMQUATS – but all in all, we have been told not to worry too much. Which is worrying.
Ged Power isn’t wholly convinced. “The position at the moment appears to me, to be well and truly on the fence. Nobody knows the impact that will hit the lower income bracket. There are many factors to consider: Currency, inflation, exchange rates and the cost of goods. What is the impact on the shelf stacker in Tesco?”
Power’s words echoe the uncertainty at the heart of the entire Brexit process. From day one it has been a laboured exercise in hot air blowing, disingenuous taglines and tediousness. The way Ged sees it, we need to establish our role here. As a Crown Dependency are we simply riding the coattails of the UK? Will we be tarred with the same brush as our neighbours, despite having had no right to vote in the proceedings? He cites the Netherlands decision to blacklist the IOM as a country of tax evasion as a warning sign. There are presently only 5 countries on the EU blacklist at present but with such an acrimonious divorce, could there be a domino effect across Europe?
He does however, see glimmers of hope amidst the precarious gloom of the unknown.
“This is the time for our government to re-evaluate our relationships…it is an opportunity for a culture change in the Isle of Man”.
He is keen to stress that while the guiding principles behind the Manx Labour Party and their UK counterparts are similar, they are not affiliated nor have any direct relationship. Power sees Corbyn as a great communicator and admires his principled stance on fairness for all. However, he does concede that with dissenting voices within the UK Labour party, a Corbyn-led UK government would be a challenge. Chucka Umanna would have, in his view, been more of a galvanising leader during these fractured times. Umanna now, of course, has defected to The Independent Group – their formation serving as a perfect encapsulation of a fractured Britain.
What if Jezza wins?
If, as Corbyn desires, a General Election is called and he then emerges victorious, how would this impact us? Corbyn has long been a critic of “tax havens” and even deemed the Island a “magic money tree” some years back. Closing loopholes would surely have a detrimental impact on our Island economy?
“Whatever happens, I think the Island has to diversify. The Aaron Banks story presented an ugly image of the Island – unfairly so, in truth – but it shows we need to change our image”
Power is engaging company throughout; his is a scattershot mind full of innovative ideas and reasoned opinion. 90 minutes together breezed by as we covered a plethora of wide-ranging subjects. Power muses on the surge in Manx tourism which is at odds with statistics suggesting otherwise, he chuckles at IOM mentionings on The Sopranos and he is at his most animated when he speaks of his hope for revised road safety legislation. He is passionate and creative, leaving with me a revitalized sense of hope. Positivity is infectious and, the overwhelming sense with Ged Power is that, even in the face of undeniable uncertainty, there must be hope.
He speaks of the inspirational Beach Buddies as being examples of instigating cultural change. Perhaps, Brexit will force us to be self-sufficient in food production and to stand on our own two feet? Ultimately, he readily admits this is a prosperous Island, living in a bit of a bubble – certainly compared to the Northern industrial towns or poorer areas of the UK. Brexit may plant a seed of doubt into those travelling abroad and Ged says, this could be our opportunity to capitalise on that. If we make the Island a more attractive place to visit, sell our undeniable beauty, the madcap eccentricity and keep the nightlife / restaurants open later, this could be, in a strange way, a real opportunity for us to seize.
With the Manx Labour Party more than doubling its membership in 2018, a new dawn in Manx party politics may be emerging. Just as our UK equivalents are as fragmented and divided as ever.
It was a blistering sense of injustice and the need to do the right thing that brought Ged Power to politics in the first place. In the aftermath of virtual silence on the implications of Brexit for the Manx contingent, it is refreshing to hear candid concerns and quiet optimism too. The man who holds himself accountable by tweeting under his own name and not hiding behind an anonymous social media presence, summed up aptly with a recent tweet:
“Anybody in Manx media / politics with an opinion on the current UK political crisis?”. We’re all ears…