As the German writer and philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing noted, “seriousness stimulates laughter, and pain pleasure.” Tragicomedy allows works of literature to explore depths and paradoxes of human experience unavailable to strict comedies and tragedies.
Brexit seems to be a tragicomedy, but it isn`t a peace of literature, it`s political reality.
The main characters: a PM Cameron, who promised an in-or-out of the EU referendum back in 2013, if the Conservatives won the General Election, despite the fact that EU matters were considered rather unimportant by voters at that time.
He promised this would happen by 2017 – an arbitrary date set to appease his party, not with any attention what was happening in the EU . A dog whistle campaign and the inherent unfairness of First Past the Post won Cameron the election in 2015, and suddenly he had to deliver on the referendum he never wanted but gave his party to keep them happy.
In 2016 there was a referendum Remain or Leave. Everybody knew the meaning of Remain, but nobody did really know what Leave was standing for. UK like Norway not in the EU but still a part of the European Economic Area? UK not in the the EEA but as Switzerland having a comparable status through bilateral contracts? UK a similar relationship to EU as perhaps Canada? Being totally separated from EU without any contracts? A really unclear alternative.
Now some Brexit figureheads enter the stage as Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove. They told the people Brexit vote meant national liberation, much more money for NHS and the solution for all immigration problems.
Many people apparently believed them. When I asked a person, who`d voted for Brexit, why he did so, I got the answer: “ too many brown faces here“ „brown faces“ ?? and EU ? People from Poland, Germany or other EU countries usually don`t have brown faces and the UK never has been within the Schengen Area. The problems this Brexit voter perceived never had to do with EU. But nevertheless the nationalist and xenophobic propaganda was successful. 52% voted for Brexit.
And now? If you had expected Nigel Farage would lead Ukip to ensure the promised great days or Boris Johnson would head for PM to implement all promises given before vote, you were wrong. These guys shied away from responsibility. Theresa May a former Remain supporter became PM.
You think she would make an effort to keep the damage small, to make clear, what Brexit does mean and perhaps introduce a soft Brexit?
Not even close. She announces “ Brexit means Brexit“ , battles every way to avoid any Brexit debate in Parliament, fighting in the courts to try to prevent Parliament having a vote on the Brexit. She rules out the Norway model, the Canada model. More than 20 months after the vote she lets in the dark, what Leave does mean.
Theresa May surely would be able to negotiate a soft Brexit. But she is a prisoner of the hardliner faction of the Tories. Staying in office and avoiding new election seems to have highest priority above all else.
All this looks like a tragicomedy. But unfortunately it`s bitter reality and it has effects on the future of the UK and Europe.