The steadfast hammering of the last two weeks on immigration has paid off. For a couple of days the polls have been showing Leave as having a six or seven points advantage, and panic (and enthusiasm) spread.
On the right as well as on the left in the House of Commons, alliances are shaken like Bond’s dry martini. But if Labour has its own flaws constituted mostly by the behavior of Corbyn, who hasn’t gotten really steamed up in favor of Remain, it’s in the Conservatives’ ranks that this referendum has created a fault which might almost be totally impossible to rebuilt, whatever the outcome.
In an extreme re-release of what the “leavers” punctually define as being hysterical catastrophic prophecies, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, obediently supported by the newly living Alistair Darling, his labourist predecessor from the golden years, has announced in the chamber that the exit from the Union will produce a £30 billion hole, which he will have to fill with increased income and succession taxes. The threat of an emergency maneuver is his nth attempt to scare those who, mostly, are also tory voters: those Middle England, land owning and retired, with a surgically cared-for lawn, the white porch and the Range Rover in the garage, concentrated mostly in the south of the country.
The issue has unchained the anger of 57 euro-skeptic members of parliament, among them Iain Duncan Smith, the neo-resigning minister, and Liam Fox, who swore not only to vote against the chancellor’s post-exit budget, but to want to exonerate him from the ministry, as a retaliation against what they consider as being a punitive budget. While Michael Grove, the euro-skeptic colleague at the Ministry of Justice, has already drafted the laws to activate an eventual divorce from Brussels. Summarizing their votes to those of a compactly adverse Labour, it’s clear that Osborne’s ship has sunk before being launched.
Leave is convinced it will be able to negotiate a free trade treaty with the E.U. without being a part of it.
Wednesday, on the Thames, near Tower Bridge, there was a spectacular exploit, something halfway between a historical commemoration and a publicity stunt, that would have made Francis Drake proud. Nigel Farage, the Ukip’s leader, helmsman of a fleet of pro-Leave fishing boats — British fishermen are mad because of fish quotas set by the E.U., which they consider draconian — was engaged in a verbal clash via megaphone against various pro-Remain boats under the admiralty of Bob Geldof, the multi-millionaire Irish Baron.
Farage’s act of piracy set out to reach Westminster by river in order to protest against Cameron, the premier, who Wednesday held his last Questions to the Prime Minister before the June 23 vote. The skirmish was fiercely fought, and fortunately it was only verbal. No one sank. But it looked like Dunkirk, the hasty withdrawal carried out at the start of World War II, masterfully recast as a victory through proper historical narration.
Naturally, so much emotion is owed to the continued polls, which, although incarnating contemporary social society’s most Onanist aspect, they are less and less reliable. In spite of the fact that everybody knows the polls calamitously failed on two recent occasions — the Scottish referendum in 2014 and, especially, the political elections in 2015 — we cannot avoid to Pavlov-ishly react to each of their updates. And then, even though they could be contradicted by a large Remain victory, a last-minute hysterical switchback is part of this liberal-democracy’s entertainment euphoria.
But one thing seems clear. In comparison to Europe, this Great Britain reminds us more and more of Nanni Moretti’s Ecce Bombo. Between being apart and not being at all, it looks like it prefers the latter. Surely now, everybody is noticing it more.