Observations of an Expat: Brexit and Shakespeare

July 1, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Jack Taylor



Tom Arms

BREXIT has plunged the land of the Bard into a Shakespearean tragedy.

Or to be more accurate, it has plunged it into overlapping tragedies which have left the British ship of state without a helmsman and drifting rudderless into dangerous financial and political waters.

The audience of the Theatre of the Globe is rapt with attention as fatal flaws are revealed in character after character. The British political stage is now a forest of daggers protruding from the backs of leaders and would be leaders.

Scene One: Enter David Cameron, a decent man in an ivory town who had the misfortune to lead the British Conservative Party. Beneath its upper crust veneer of tailored suits and perfection diction lay a party viciously tearing itself apart over the issue of membership of the European Union. Cameron sought to unite factions with a referendum. But from his lofty perch he failed to see that the divisions between Tories was even more trenchantly and viciously mirrored in the nation at large.

Every king has his loyal lieutenant. Enter the mop-haired Boris Johnson who doubled in the role of court jester. Boris, Cameron’s close friend and some time rival of nearly 40 years, suffers from the fatal flaw of overweening ambition. He claims the Churchillian mantle while at the same time admitting an anarchic streak that drives him to enjoy “throwing rocks into glass houses to listen to the shattering glass.”

The former Mayor of London did just that when he stabbed Cameron in the back. With no regard to the damage to the nation, Boris offered his formidable personality to the Brexit campaign. He admits that he was undecided until the last minute. But Boris’s ambition won the day and he opted for out. He gambled that if the Brexiteers won then the path to Downing Street lay open before him.

But he was wrong. The man who would be king had his own treacherous lieutenant. Enter Michael Gove, the rabid Brexiteer who will go down in history as dismissing the dire warnings of a raft of economists with the words: “Experts? The British public have had enough of experts.”

Gove has the charisma of a wet noodle in a lake. He knew it and exploited Johnson’s ambition and PR skills to win the campaign. But when the campaign was won the worm turned. With only minutes to go before Boris announced a Gove-backed candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party and the Premiership, Gove declared that his ally lacked the necessary leadership qualities and lodged his own claim to the throne. “Et Tu Michael,” declared Boris’s politically astute father Stanley.


Michael Gove and Theresa May


It remains to be seen, but Gove’s ruthlessness may be a treachery too far even for the notoriously treacherous Conservative Party. The bookies favourite is now Theresa May. During the referendum campaign she supported the Remain camp, but in a relatively quiet manner which means many now regard her as a unifying figure.

Meanwhile, in the same theatre, on an adjoining stage, the Opposition Labour Party is acting out its own tragedy. Their unelectable far left king, Jeremy Corbyn, has suffered multiple stab wounds. More than 50 members of his Shadow Cabinet resigned in two days and 80 percent of his parliamentary colleagues have passed a vote of no confidence in their leader. Yet Corbyn refuses to die. He continues to stagger across the stage dragging a battered Labour Party which many fear will now split into warring factions.

Britain has no government and no opposition to challenge it.

In the wings Nicola Sturgeon, the feisty red-haired leader of the Scottish National Party threatens secession and Nigel Farage’s xenophobic UK Independence Party is sharpening their swords for an assault on the divided labour electorate. Across the channel, in an equally noisy theatre are Europe’s leaders– angry at being kicked in the teeth by the British and plotting punishment to prevent their own greater tragedy.

This real life play has only just begun. The battle still rages. The spoils—or what is left of them—will go to the last man or woman standing. Let’s hope they don’t forget to turn out the theatre lights.






Tom Arms broadcasts on world affairs for a number of US radio stations including WTKF at http://www.wtkf107.com/. His Weekly Viewpoints discussion programme can be heard at 1830 EST on Wednesdays and his LookAhead at the next week’s main events on Fridays at 1800.


LookAhead Radio World Report for week commencing 4 July:






Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

Tom is also available as a Public Speaker and can be contacted on Twitter andLinkedin


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