Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that Theresa May needs to get tougher about Brexit. It seems to me that the toughest thing for the Prime Minister is actually understanding what Brexit is all about.
A report out at the weekend told of the distinct possibility of shortages of fruit and vegetables on sale, despite bumper crops being predicted this summer. This is down to a muddled response to Brexit, Eastern European workers choosing to leave the UK and the Home Office playing hard ball on temporary work visas to non-EU nationals. As a result, fruit and vegetables could be left to rot in the fields due to a shortage of workers to pick them.
This is yet another illustration of how confused and muddled this government is. On the one hand, ministers are telling us we need to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day.
On the other, they are stopping the people who actually harvest the fruit and veg from entering the country. There are going to be some very hot-under-the-collar, Tory-voting, Telegraph-reading, Pimm’s-drinking tennis fans at Wimbledon if their strawberries are left decomposing in the fields of Kent, rather than being on sale at 15 quid a go.
Of course, a lot of people who voted for Brexit did so out of a sense of nostalgia for the early 1970s. Back in those days, the only vegetables we could buy were tinned peas, dried peas, carrots and potatoes. Everything else was seen as a bit too exotic.
Well, we may soon be returning to those times if we can’t get enough people to get the more exciting veg out of the ground. This is, of course, only the thin end of the wedge. What can we expect next in this frenzy of 70s nostalgia? Re-runs of On The Buses, Mind Your Language and Love Thy Neighbour on TV before it shuts down at 11pm? Bringing back the test card instead of BBC News 24?
If that makes you yearn for a return to more innocent times, can I also remind you that the early 70s saw quite a lot of trouble in Northern Ireland, and if the Government doesn’t get the border issue sorted pretty quick, who knows what might happen?
The two most contentious points at the moment are: should there be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and should we stay in the Customs Union.
Given that neither the Prime Minister nor any other member of the UK Government has a clue about the state of the nation post-Brexit, what chance do any of us ordinary citizens have of grappling with the finer points of our divorce from Europe?
The options for the border are either a soft border, a hard border, semi-soft, medium-hard or soft-boiled. There is, of course, the extreme option of a liquid border, or a moat as it more commonly known.
When it comes to the Customs Union, things get more complicated. Should the UK opt to remain in ‘the’ Customs Union or choose instead to be part of ‘a’ customs union (following the argument so far? Me neither, but apparently it makes a huge difference if it has a definite or indefinite article. Strap in, it gets more complicated yet)?
The third option offered is rather than being part of the or a customs union, post-Brexit Britain would enter into a ‘customs partnership’ with the EU. For those of you who do not know the difference between a union and a partnership, I’d advise you to look up a thesaurus. If you do, you will find that on a list of words with the same meaning as “union”, the word “partnership” will usually appear. Likewise, look up “partnership” and I’m pretty certain that “union” would regularly be offered as an option. It strikes me that the simplest option may simply to stay in the EU and wait for them to throw us out for wasting time and boring them senseless over matters of verbal pedantry.
If this argument in semantics has you utterly confused, I have discovered a fairly easy way of arriving at a satisfactory answer. Find out what Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks about it and take the opposing view. It works for me 99 per cent of the time. These are the things he opposes: the European Union, gay marriage, family planning, women’s rights to choose to have an abortion, suits designed after 1957. Does it work for you too?