OPN 191003 Boris Johnson-1570104309421
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson shuffles his papers as he delivers his keynote speech to delegates on the final day of the annual Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex, in Manchester, north-west England on October 2, 2019 Image Credit: AFP

The British Medical Journal is a respected peer-reviewed journal that issues studious papers on medical and clinical conditions. And in the current edition, a doctor has warned that political upheaval is taking a serious toll on the mental health of Britons.

Dr Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq Katsu reported the case of a male patient in his 40s who suffered hallucinations and delusions when his mental health deteriorated rapidly shortly after the Brexit referendum. It’s the first reported case of Brexit-triggered psychosis.

The patient said he felt ashamed to be British, and was eventually admitted to a psychiatric ward after he spend more time consuming social media, couldn’t sleep and became worried about radical incidents. According to Dr Zia, the patient lived in a constituency that voted to leave the European Union, he felt intimidated and overwhelmed, and eventually was treated for his condition with a brief admission to a psychiatric hospital and with a course of olanzapine, an antipsychotic medication. He has recovered and was last seen by Dr Zia in June, the BMJ reports.

I feel for this patient. Indeed, I am deeply worried he may relapse, given all that has happened over these past two months, since Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative party, has taken the reins at 10 Downing Street, seen his majority reduced to minus 43, lost most of his votes in the House of Commons, tried to suspend parliament and was found by the United Kingdom’s supreme court to have misled Queen Elizabeth in seeking that suspension, and is now threatening to ignore the rule of law by refusing to ask for an extension to Britain’s EU membership as mandated by the Benn Act that makes a no-deal Brexit illegal.

For most political commentators never mind average Britons, the list of events coming in quick succession are enough to do anyone’s head in.

More on Brexit

Never have so few done so much to so many. Never in the field of political endeavour has a Prime Minister lost control of his parliament so quickly, meaning that the combined forces of opposition Members of Parliament, who are united only by their determination that the Brits will leave with a Brexit deal, are essentially running the nation.

Effectively, Boris Johnson is the leader of the opposition, has no majority to control the course of events, and is determined to wreck centuries of political convention by overriding those with a majority by pushing ahead with a no-deal Brexit come October 31.

On Wednesday, Johnson addressed his annual Conservative party conference and detailed his plans to negotiate a final deal in a bold take-it or leave-it gambit with Brussels and the EU27.

Simply put, it seems as if that Brexit psychosis has spread. Johnson’s plans for border checks on both sides of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are delusional, not in touch with reality, and are symptoms of a mindset that is overwhelmed by self-importance, self-harm and self-obsession.

To suggest that the Northern Ireland regional assembly — which has not met for three years and can’t agree on a relatively simple issue such as the cultural role of the Irish language — should have a pivot role in determining the length and nature of the relationship between the British-administered province and the Irish Republic, and by extension the rest of the EU, is simply wishful thinking.

‘Tunnel’ talks

This proposal is a non-starter, goes nowhere near meeting the bare minimum required for the EU to negotiations to reach some sort of a final proposal before October 19, the deadline set by the Benn Act, and certainly not by the next European Council summit two days earlier.

These proposals are supposed to trigger a two-week period of “tunnel” talks, where both sides would effectively shut themselves away and use it as the basis to hammer out an agreement. No, these proposals are enough to commit British negotiators to a rubber-lined cell as they are so removed from reality.

Right now, the prognosis is that there is a confrontation coming that will be nothing like seen so far in the House of Commons. The Benn Act required Johnson to ask for an extension by October 19. If he doesn’t, he’s breaking the law of the land — a remarkable position for the prime minister to be in. If he doesn’t, he’s lost the respect of his party and is effectively a leader waiting for the axe to fall.

The combined opposition are determined to put off a general election until a Brexit deal is reached, possibly over the next three months. Johnson is determined to hold on until that election then stand as the man who stood for the will of these 52 per cent in trying to get Brexit, thwarted by that combined opposition.

In the coming days, there are going to be a lot more olanzapine prescriptions written by Dr Zia and others — unless, of course, it’s one of the many medications that will be in short supply as a result of Brexit.