For the past several days, negotiators for both the United Kingdom and the European Union have been talking in a so-called “tunnel” — effectively a period of self-imposed silence with the media — to try and move things along towards a Brexit deal.
“Tunnel” is an unfortunate choice of words. For starters, it could refer to the Euro-tunnel, the 50.5km link under the English Channel between Folkstone and Calais that was completed in 1994. When this whole Brexit mess is over — if indeed it ever will be — that Euro-tunnel will remain an engineered testament to British-French cooperation, the ideals of a united Europe and a permanent link between Britain and the continent.
If radical Brexiteers had their way — and they may well indeed have — they’d more likely want to see it flooded, an end to that period.
“Tunnel” too could refer to the single-minded vision that those rabid Brexiteers, led by Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis, share in leading the UK over the edge of those White Cliffs of Dover in their pursuit of a perfidious Albion, a green and pleasant land free of Polish plumbers, French fishermen, German sausages and Dutch herrings.
So far, that club of old Etonians has done pretty good convincing a majority of Brits that all of their political and social woes will suddenly vanish at the stroke of midnight next March 29, and they will live then in a UK Utopia, a land of milk, honey and a properly-funded National Health Service.
When the Brits entered this entire Brexit mess wholly of the making of an inept and privileged few on the Conservative party backbenches, they had no map, no idea of where they were going, no notion of how to get there, knew little of what it would entail, and simply had a belief that on the other side of the mountain, the grass would be greener — and somehow all would be right in their isolated corner of the world.
Tunnel vision? That’s more like the blind leading the blind — and the blinded blindly following.
The thing about being in a tunnel is that the slightest sound is greatly amplified, resonating and reverberating against the solid walls — to the point where it becomes an echo. And the thing about an echo is that no one can tell where it came from, who make the initial sound, and it ends up being distorted.
Sure enough, echoes might sound good inside that tunnel, but once they are exposed to reality and life beyond those confines, they don’t fly, don’t have the same meaning, and are but cries in the wilderness.
That is pretty much what has happened to any thoughts of ideas developed in previous tunnels. They don’t stand up to the cold light of day, the political reality, the echo chambers of political interests and parliamentary scrutiny. Nor to the deaf ears of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who prop up Prime Minister Theresa May and her divided Conservatives.
Only one bass note
Tone deaf? Absolutely. The DUP only hears one bass note chanted in meditative harmony, a trancelike “nooooooooooo” that resonates through Westminster all the way back to Nirvana in Northern Ireland.
We all know the saying that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe there is.
Maybe, all the critics who point out the dangers of Brexit are wrong.
Maybe Brexit might work; planes won’t stop flying; medicines will be available; tens of thousands of car workers won’t lose their jobs.
Maybe Brexit won’t mean that there are thousands of trucks stuck at the channel ports for days or weeks on end; that supermarket shelves in the UK won’t go empty; that British passports and visa rules won’t be difficult for travellers for months if not years after March 29.
And maybe, a hard Brexit won’t bring out the dark men from the shadows of Northern Ireland’s past, who wait for the day where they reach under their mattresses and bring out the AKs once more.
Maybe the naysayers are wrong.
Yes, there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. And yes, it gets brighter the closer we get to March 29.
There is light. It’s an express train heading straight for every Brexiteer who wondered what was down that tunnel.