Britain has been in a scratchy mood in recent days. Everywhere you go worried civilians are talking about politics and lamenting the lack of a plan for what comes next. On Twitter, politicians and commentators – even those who are friends – conduct ultimately pointless arguments about the referendum that go on so long that eventually no-one can remember what they are arguing about. Everyone needs a holiday.
Indeed, I fear some Remainers have lost their marbles completely. The same people who would have been denouncing calls for a second referendum if they had won are going on marches and calling for the overturning of the biggest vote in British history. This in the face of a choice made by 17,410,742 people that is the biggest vote in British history, I think I am right in saying. It is certainly bigger than the 17,378,571 who voted in 1975 to stay in the EEC and bigger than the vote for any victor in a general election since the Second World War.
“But Leave was won on lies!” it is said by people such as Alastair Campbell, communications supremo in Number 10 in the run up to the Iraq War. I note with interest also that George Osborne’s daft threat of a post-Brexit punishment Budget and tax hikes a few weeks ago if the British dared to choose self-government, has now turned into a corporation tax cut and soothing noises.
What is certainly true right now is that a divided country – in which 16,141,241 Britons voted to Remain in the EU – needs a spot of healing. We need something we can all unite around from different perspectives.
Step forward Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP and promoter of that vile “Breaking Point” poster in the referendum campaign. He has announced that he is resigning and says he means it this time. Last time, after the 2015 general election, he unresigned within days. Now he really does seem to want his life back, and some of the pressure off his family.
Farage’s departure is a great moment of national togetherness. There is something in this announcement for all of us. Remainers will be delighted to see the back of Farage, because they see him as a malign force and a national embarrassment. The majority of Leavers will be delighted too. It is often overlooked that most Leavers (around 13.4m of them) do not vote UKIP and many moderate Leavers regarded him with horror, especially when his machinations and extreme rhetoric tarnished the official Leave campaign. UKIP’s only MP – Douglas Carswell – is also delighted Farage has stepped down, as will be quite a few UKIP MEPs tired of his leadership style.
UKIP more broadly will also join in the celebrating, not because the Faragists are pleased he is gone, but because it is a chance for them to trumpet the work of their leader and present him as the folk-hero who stuck it to the Establishment.
Everyone is a winner, really, even Farage, who gets his life back.
What next? The outgoing UKIP leader says he would like to make a television series on the First World War, but there have been rather a lot of those. Michael Portillo reinvented himself with those rather good train travel programmes. Might Farage consider something similar with an outer space theme?