It happened by accident, as my favorite discoveries on Twitter tend to. I can’t even remember how I saw a tweet from Ian Dunt, the editor of politics.co.uk, Parliament watcher, and host of the Remainiacs podcast. It’s not difficult to discern where Dunt’s inclinations lie: his tweets are full to the point of bursting with exasperated white hot anger at the malevolent incompetence on display in Parliament and coming from that address on Downing Street. He wears his heart on his tweets.
He has also been live-tweeting the intense, nerve-wracking parliamentary process of late stage Brexit with almost forensic detail. His commentary is slipped in between his reportage. I find it all completely riveting.
It’s not just Mr. Dunt’s style that I find riveting though. I realized early on during the week that Brexit was originally scheduled to happen that his Twitter feed was the most detailed blow by blow account of what could end up being the undoing of that canary dying in the miserable coal mine of our current morass in the Western world, where we are awash in brazen incompetent liars successfully moving people to join them in their often fascist fantasy world and absolutely destroying the decrepit machinery of the world that wasn’t working too well in the first place.
Brexit was the harbinger of the still unfolding Trumpocalypse, the robin of the authoritarian spring in Eastern Europe, the symptom of a disease that has been wracking the body politic since the financial crisis. Many of us expected a political crisis to follow the financial one, way back when. Not many of us thought it would take a decade to metastasize before we then suddenly get diagnosed with Stage IV populist cancer. It was the utterly irrational convulsion of the Brexit referendum that felt like an inspiration and an impulse that gave spiritual energy to other such convulsions.
I’ve over over over generalized a lot of political and economic history there, but that’s what humans do. The real world is so bewildering and overwhelming that we have to simplify somehow, we develop heuristics that makes things easier but are frequently wrong wrong all the time. I am in no way saying that Brexit caused all of these ills. It was just the first blatant sign that all was so far from well, you could be forgiven for calling the whole thing fucked beyond repair and throwing your hands up in despair. The hits kept coming after that, like Trump getting elected and literally anything that Trump has said or done since then. Viktor Orban is bad. Poland is devouring itself. Slovakia tried. Turkey has gone mad. Venezuela is imploding. Israel somehow cannot rid itself of a criminal prime minister who literally caucuses with terrorists. Syria is a locus of human misery that can’t be fixed because so many don’t want it fixed. So is Yemen. Saudi Arabia just flat out murders dissidents in other countries. I don’t need to recap the entire list. It’s been a shitty fucking last few years.
But now that we are on the pointy end of Brexit, now that we have missed the original Brexit day, now that the House of Commons is actually finally doing work and No Deal appears to be increasingly no dice and Brexit and the Brexiteers’ rancid lies are wilting on hard contact with reality . . . Hope stirs.
6 MILLION people signed a petition to revoke Article 50 and stop the Brexit process entirely (listening to people is not Theresa May’s thing, so that won’t happen just yet). 1 MILLION people put their bodies in the streets to say much the same thing. And while it is not at all possible to rule out Theresa May doing her damnedest to hold on to anything that resembles power for as long as she can (ably abetted by Jeremy Corbyn, the most clueless idiot to ever dare to dream of being Prime Minister) and fucking this all up, there is growing momentum behind a second referendum to let the people vote again, even among the trade unions at the heart of the Labour party, this time with the lies of the Brexiteers fully exposed in the glaring stage light of reality by the merciless quality of high-definition cameras.
In 2016, eons ago, the Brexit referendum result was a massive shock. Now, it is an example that no one wants to follow and something that has a non-zero, non-trivial possibility of being completely undone. Not by magic and not easily, nothing like this could be easy, we assuredly do not deserve easy, this is a reckoning for our many past failures. But the flailings of the House of Commons are, against all odds and in the most aggravating way, providing some nourishment to hope. It feels like jinxing it to even be talking like hope has any justification whatsoever, but I am rooting so so so hard for it as are so many other people. And that has seemed to have accomplished something over the last two weeks. Not much, it basically all still looks like chaos, but it isn’t Brexit, not yet and maybe not ever. We can cancel the apocalypse, even without giant nuclear powered robots (hopefully still with Idris Elba’s help).
God Speed People’s Vote and good luck Ian Dunt, stay hydrated.