10 January 2019, The Tablet

Laughing till it hurts

Laughing till it hurts

Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain
(Head of Zeus, 240 pp, £11.99)
Tablet Bookshop price £10.79 • Tel 020 7799 4064

Reviewing a book about Brexit in the days after our Prime Minister scraped through a confidence vote and, one presumes, in the days before her Brexit deal is finally voted down, is an act of folly. Hannah Arendt said that in Nazi Germany only a madman could predict what would happen next. The same goes double in Brexit Britain. Then again, here comes Heroic Failure, in which the eminently sane Fintan O’Toole has an idea where we’re headed. Quoting then- Chancellor John Major’s speech about the necessity of economic strictures – “If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working” – he suggests that the “sadopopulist” line post-Brexit will be “it is working because it is hurting”

Brexit, O’Toole argues, is a misnomer. Eexit would be a better fit. It isn’t the British who want to leave the EU. The Scots voted Remain. The Northern Irish voted Remain. The Welsh voted Leave, but pollsters tell us they’ve now changed their minds. Only the English are committed to this act of “wilful self-harm”.

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