The Plastic Hippo

February 18, 2016

Witney hold `em

Via Getty Images Alamy

Via Getty Images Alamy

Even if we disregard the blatant lies, the avarice, the duplicity, the arrogance and the sheer incompetence and if we forget the broken pledges, promises, pleas and piffle and if we ignore the bluff, double-bluff and triple-bluff, it is still possible to feel some sympathy for the Rt Hon David Cameron MP. It cannot be easy for a two-bit chancer, snake oil salesman and card-shark to invite himself to the biggest crap game in Europe and expect to be taken seriously.

It was Aneurin Bevan who first conjured up the disturbing image of a politician walking naked into the conference chamber but as unpleasant as the prospect might be, the other 27 European leaders might demand that Dave gets his kit off to make sure that he is not concealing a marked deck, loaded dice, and a switch-blade or wearing x-ray specs. A Prime Minister that is happy to gamble the future of Europe against his own transient and uncertain political career is capable of any amount of underhand skulduggery. Without a shirt on his back and clutching fistfuls of IOUs, Cameron has spent months scuttling around Europe desperate to cut a deal to save his sorry derrière. He might be a shallow embarrassment but he is our shallow embarrassment and at least deserves our pity.

Unable to see beyond the next privatisation or self-inflicted crisis, Cameron promised a “definitive” referendum on UK membership of the European Union. This solemn pledge was made when opinion polls confidently predicted another hung parliament and a continuation of the disastrous coalition between vicious Tories and the now extinct Liberal Democrats. Simply to break even, Cameron had to raise the stakes to see off the challenge of xenophobes, little Englanders and racists threatening to take votes in Tory marginal constituencies. Knowing full well that a referendum would never take place during a coalition government, he now has to go through the motions after unexpectedly gaining a slim majority.

The promise was of full-on treaty change, massive reform and ever widening European division. Realising that he is holding a busted flush, snake eyes Cameron has dropped the anti. He will fold and walk away from the Brussels crap game waving his winnings at a grateful British public. The massive reforms will include an end to benefits paid for the fifth, sixth and subsequent children of Transylvanian shepherds currently working in Redcar steel mills. This bold action will reduce the national debt by about the same amount as the cost of Mr Cameron`s travel and catering bill accrued to secure the deal and will significantly reduce the temptation freely offered to Romanian waifs seeking a life of ease on Teesside.

Full-on treaty change will ensure that the European parliament will not be allowed to impose impertinent and unnecessary scrutiny and regulation of the City of London thus maintaining the honourable reputation of that noble financial institution as the finest, most relaxed illegal gambling den on the planet. Knock twice and tell them Dave sent you. As an added bonus, Cameron will return with a guarantee that the vast fishing fleets of Lerwick and Stromness will now be able to catch herring up to one millimetre smaller than previously allowed under draconian EU red tape. The generic term “kipper” will be abandoned in favour of the more accurate description “Scotnat”. An indebted Scottish public will once again embrace England and a delighted English public will embrace Europe safe in knowledge that faceless bureaucrats in Brussels will no longer be passing laws forcing us to discard bent bananas or adhere to basic human rights.

Victory assured, Cameron will scurry back to London to present his deal to a rather odd cabinet in the hope of curbing his minister`s natural instinct to climb up and down the curtains and then eat the furniture. The rest of Europe, having thrown the Prime Minister a biscuit, will turn to more important matters. With the US led coalition dropping bombs on hospitals, clearly an unfortunate accident involving a little bit of collateral damage, and Russia dropping bombs on hospitals, clearly a crime against humanity, the grown-ups will discuss the tide of refugees just beyond Europe`s hastily erected razor wire. Hoping for something approaching safety, maybe something to eat and a hospital not about to be bombed; traumatised children curse their fate at not being born to a Transylvanian shepherd. Some of the more pragmatic European leaders might also take a glance eastwards to an almost forgotten Ukraine and the ambitions of a gambler not afraid to force feed some Polonium into the foie gras. An ever closer European union never seemed so sensible.

Cameron will jet into Northolt and will hopefully resist the urge to wave a piece of paper for the benefit of a Pathé news camera proclaiming that it will all be over by June. Having forced the European Union into an existential crisis that it really doesn`t need at the moment; Cameron needs to convince a small group of fairly incompetent ministers that it would be a good thing to stay in. It`s not as if the populace are up in arms and taking to the streets, apart from small groups of illiterate pond life who regard voluntary baldness and obesity as a statement of national pride. There does not seem to be any serious party political rancour or aggression and the reasons for leaving the EU remain tenuous at best. There are, of course, plausible arguments regarding sovereignty and the security of borders but these valid points tend to be expressed by “older” citizens who remember an England defined by the village green knock of leather on willow and Muffin the Mule. The anti-social youth, not allowed a vote on their future if under 18, might have different ambitions.

Cameron, in wishing to squash a threat that never materialised, has dealt himself a terrible hand and has wilfully ignored the warnings of unintentional consequence. “His” referendum is not a poll of national will, but an internal Conservative spat within the parliamentary party. Up until now, the champions of severing union with Europe have been limited to fading and rather crooked failures and the occasional eccentric oddball. If the best that the “leave” campaign can offer is Liam Fox, John Redwood, Bill Cash and the extremely amusing caricature Jacob Rees-Mogg, then it is obvious that we will all be spending Euros at Aldi by Christmas.

Now that hustler Cameron is back from the crap game, the big operators come into play. The crooks and the oddballs will give up their seats at the poker table to be replaced by the serious gamblers. With the likes of Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson holding the cards, the upcoming entertainment would be both fascinating and utterly hilarious apart from the fact that the future will be determined by internal animosity within the Tory cabinet.

The fate of the UK, Europe and therefore the planet is to be decided by the outcome of an Eton wall game or a boat race between Oxford and Cambridge.

I bet both boats sink somewhere off Kos and nobody will bother to rescue the floundering survivors.

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