Notes From the Margins…

All the Devils Are Here

  • February 09, 2019
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It’s been a hell of a week, hasn’t it?   It’s fine for us to compare the EU to Hitler, the Soviet Union, the mafia, and a dictatorship.  It’s ok to accuse the EU of torturing us by ‘administering punishment beatings’, as the sixth form yob who bizarrely became our last foreign secretary once declared.

It was absolutely fine for Farage – in his full Alan Partridge-meets-Oswald Mosley posturing mode – to tell the former president of the European Union Herman van Rompuy back in 2011 that he had the ‘charisma of a dirty dishcloth,’ a ‘funny name’, and that he came from a ‘non-country’ – Belgium.

But it’s another matter when these foreigners start getting theological with us and telling Brexiters that there might be a ‘special place in hell’ for them.

So Farage was up in arms – up in arms I tell you – describing Tusk as an ‘arrogant bully’ and promising that a post-Brexit Britain ‘sounds like heaven.’   Next up was is the DUP’s Sammy Wilson – a politician who always looks as though he’s just staggered out of a bar after a very long lunch – reaching for his inner Paisley and describing Tusk as a ‘devilish euromaniac’ whose ‘trident wielding cabal’ has ‘fanned the flames of fear’ in an attempt to prevent the UK from reaching ‘the paradise of a free and prosperous Kingdom.’

Devils, tridents, flames, heaven and paradise – it’s all getting a little crazeee here, isn’t it folks?  And topping off the zaniness was Jacob Rees-Mogg.  On Thursday Rees-Mogg penned a piece for the Sun, in which he declared that

Mr Tusk’s arrogant and high-handed approach assumes the public did not make an informed decision to Leave.  He is saying that 17.4million people are stupid and got it wrong primarily because they are objecting to the system that he benefits from.

Well no he didn’t.  His frustration was entirely aimed at people like…Rees-Mogg – an MP who still looks more like Tim Burton’s idea of what a certain kind of British politician should look like than a real person.  Tusk’s actual words were: ‘ I’ve been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.’

It goes without saying that the people who did that will never admit to it, so Rees-Mogg did what Brexiters always do – he tried to whip up some nationalist victimhood by completely misrepresenting Tusk’s words.  So far so normal. But then the Moggster, as is his wont, tried to dazzle Sun readers with a little Etonian erudition, so we get this:

Sadly, Mr Tusk’s theology is not very good either – circles of hell are not reserved for people we disagree with. They should go back to their Bible studies for another look – or perhaps  I should send them the catechism to remind them of the teaching of Holy Mother Church.

So we’re bringing the Holy Mother Church into this now?  Yes we are.  And yesterday, Rees Mogg, still wearing that ill-fitting man of the people suit, could be found singing the old World War 1 song  ‘ the bells of hell go ting a ling a ling for you but not for me.’

I wouldn’t be so sure myself, but if Rees-Mogg did end up in hell, you can be sure he’d make sure his money was suitably reinvested elsewhere beforehand.

But it’s all jokes, right?   Well it is for them.  For millions of us, watching this go on day after day, we can only feel, like Mephistopheles ‘ Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.’

But if Brexit is hell, let’s never forget that this is a Tory hell.  A hell that was brought to us by the Cameron government, whose successors have fanned the flames.  If you had any doubt, consider the astounding interview that Sayeeda Warsi gave to C4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy last week.




I saw Sayeeda Warsi speak on a panel about Islam and young Muslims at the Bradford Literary Festival last year,  and I was quite impressed by her.   She was so honest, intelligent, outspoken and thoughtful  that I kept asking myself ‘what are you doing  in the Tory Party?’

Anyway at around 41 minutes into the interview, Guru-Murthy turns the subject to the Cameron government and the referendum and asks whether ‘this was done essentially to keep the Tory party together, wasn’t it?’

The following exchange occurs:.

Warsi: Of course, and I think even if you speak to  David [Cameron] about this, he will say that I’m not sure that anybody in the Conservative Party expected that we were going to win that election, and therefore there was a bit of placating of our own side in the run up to that election, in the hope that, thereafter, would we or would we not deliver that referendum? I’m not sure.

Guru-Murthy:  Because you thought there’d be another coalition, and the Lib Dems would deny you a referendum?

Warsi: Absolutely.

Guru-Murthy:  So it was a promise you would never have to deliver on?

Warsi: Absolutely.  That was the sense that I got, yeah.

Guru-Murthy: Isn’t that just the most reckless awful politics, to have done that? To have gambled the country’s future like that?

Warsi:  Yep, it is.

Guru-Murthy: Shouldn’t someone say sorry?

Warsi: I’m not sure sorry is enough.  I think that the best way we can deal with it is to make sure that we deliver a Brexit now which, one, keeps the country together, but in the long term, make sure that we remain a vibrant successful nation.”

So here we have a former Tory cabinet minister admitting that her party gambled the future of the country by promising a referendum that it did not believe in, in the hope that it would not have to deliver it, simply in order to gain power.

This isn’t what ‘David’ has been saying himself.  Cameron still insists that he has ‘no regrets’ about the referendum and presents it as a high-handed ‘promise to the British people.’

Many of us have thought differently for some time.  Warsi’s frankness made it clear that we were right.  Yet even then, having fessed up to her party’s shocking cynicism and fecklessness, she goes on to praise Theresa May,  and insists that she is the one to ensure that we remain a ‘vibrant successful nation.’

Which explains why she is in the Tory party.

And in a way it also explains why we are all in political hell right now, and why all the devils are here.  And if we ever manage to drive them away, we should never forget who brought them forth.



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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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