Tag Archives: boris johnson

’twas the night before Brexit

 

I feel like I should write something to commemorate Brexit Eve, but honestly I feel like everything I want to say has already been said. Three-and-a-half years ago I wrote on this blog why, despite a deep Euroscepticism, I believed people should vote Remain. Then, after the referendum, I encouraged people to get on with making Brexit a success—which, to me, meant fighting for a fair, progressive, leftwing Brexit.

2016 was a long time ago. I’ve since lost my Euroscepticism and become, if not an enthusiastic at least a pragmatic Europhile. Some may say that I’ve given into tribalism, but I’ve come by my feelings on globalization and international cooperation honestly, having seen not just Britain but the world double down on isolation and nativism. From America to Brazil to Austria to the Philippines, the far right is ascendant and seeks to dismantle the internationalism of the last quarter-century. It makes me sad.

I keep thinking about the people who will be celebrating tomorrow. In some ways I can’t begrudge them. Many Brexiteers have wanted this for a long time, working to take Britain out of Europe for years or decades. For them it’s the moment they have been waiting for, a culmination of all their work and the fulfillment of their deepest political desire. Still, given how divided the country is, the raucous celebrations being planned and the celebratory tea towels with Boris Johnson’s smug and utterly punchable face screen-pressed onto them seem crass, at best. A little magnanimity from the Brexiteers would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath; “conciliation” is not one of their traits. Indeed, it is a vice rather than a virtue to most of them.

Then I remember the children who will grow up British but not European. The teenagers who feel as though their future has been robbed from them. The #FBPE Twitterati who genuinely believe the European Union is the key to all future success and that, outside of it, Britain will be but a shell of its former self—a has-been among nations, the senile old uncle to whom no one ever writes but still somehow winds up at Christmas dinner, at least. Anyone who has ever experienced electoral loss can sympathize with them.

For the dyed-in-the-wool true believers, though, it’s even more painful than an election defeat. Boris Johnson might be Prime Minister now, but within five years we’ll have a chance to put him out. Brexit is a once-in-a-generation, if not lifetime, event. What’s done is done. It’s like a Panem reaping: your name has been drawn; you can’t go back. It’s well and truly over—may the odds be ever in your favour.

For what it’s worth, I doubt the worst will come to pass. It seldom does. Whatever the consequences of this foolish retreat into itself, Britain is still one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. That isn’t going to stop being true anytime soon. There will be hiccups, no doubt – I wouldn’t want to be in Dover next month, and God be with us if the prosecco runs out – but it’s hardly the war. You’ll still have bread, and electricity, and bombs won’t be falling on your house. Low bar, I realise, but I’m grasping at straws.

I don’t know what comes next. What do the Remainers put their energies towards now that overturning the referendum is impossible? It will be interesting to see. One thing I hope is that we can move forward. For four years Brexit has dominated the national conversation. You couldn’t turn on Question Time without at least half the conversation being dominated by Brexit. The other half was dominated by racists, and often the two overlapped. Not always a correlation, but rarely a coincidence. There are pressing issues facing the nation, though. Maybe they can get addressed now. Maybe.

My heart goes out to those who are sad, or angry, or bitter, or alternately or simultaneously all three. It’s a tough pill to swallow. If the medicine shortages come to pass, it could also be your last pill to swallow. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. As I said, probably won’t.

To those who are happy, those who wanted Brexit more than they wanted anything—even more than they wanted an all-white royal family—I wish you well as you celebrate getting both. Truly. And I’m sorry for that dig just there. It’s unfair. Not unwarranted, but unfair. Not all of you are foaming-at-the-mouth racists. Just a lot of you. But seriously, party to your heart’s content and your liver’s capacity. Just remember for every verse of “Land of Hope and Glory” you sing one of your compatriots listening to “Ode to Joy” and quietly weeping. You can leave the European Union, but you have to take them with you.

Skylar Baker-Jordan has been writing about UK and US politics for more than a decade. His work as appeared at The Independent, Salon, Huff Post UK, and elsewhere. He lives in Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter or become a supporter by contributing to his Patreon account.

Skylar’s Naughty and Nice List 2019

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It’s the time of year when we deck the halls, don our gay apparel, and kiss under the mistletoe. Yes, from carol singing to your one drunk relative getting a little out of hand, Christmas is a time rife with tradition. One of my favourite traditions is my annual naughty and nice list. After a year away, I’m back, ready to judge the fuck out of people, which is what Christmas is all about.

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Lindsay Graham

It’s really hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment Lindsay Graham sold his soul to the devil, but it was sometime in 2017. Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, used to deride Donald Trump as someone who “lacked the temperament or judgment to be commander in chief,” but now he’s besties with the mango Mussolini. “I have made up my mind on impeachment,” he recently said, adding “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror” in the president’s soon-to-come Senate trial. From principled leader to spineless Trump acolyte, Lindsay Graham’s descent into the hell that is Trumpism has been remarkably sad to watch.

Rudy Giuliani

Named Time Person of the Year in 2001 for his response to the 9/11 attacks, it has likewise been a swift fall from grace for the man once hailed as “America’s Mayor.” Whether going on Fox News and spreading what can only be called state-supported propaganda for Donald Trump or running a shadow State Department in which he conducts the president’s nefarious business dealings with foreign governments—including, yes, Ukraine—Rudy Giuliani has cemented his place in history as exactly what Saturday Night Live portrays him as: a vampiric villain willing to suck dry the lifeblood of American democracy.

Boris Johnson

An unlawful proroguing of parliament. Having the police called following an angry and allegedly violent row with his girlfriend. The fact that he has a girlfriend yet is still married. Hiding in a fridge to escape journalists. A refusal to sit down for an interview with that notorious lefty… Andrew Neal. You’d think Boris Johnson had a bad year, yet the man just won the biggest Conservative majority in parliament since Maggie Thatcher. He’s going to singlehandedly drag the UK out of the European Union next year, which is what he’s wanted forever since he discovered he could hitch his wagon to racism and xenophobia and end up in Number 10. Bully for him, I guess.

Jo Swinson

Much like a Tinder date, Jo Swinson started out promisingly but quickly fizzled to the point I was asking why I even bothered. Elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in July, she started by positioning herself as a prospective Prime Minister and finished the year as not even a Member of Parliament when the voters of East Dunbartonshire sent her packing—for the second time. Lots of things led to Swinson’s swift downfall, including her promise to rescind Article 50 and end Brexit which most voters found patently undemocratic. She will be most remembered, though, as a woman who was pathologically incapable of explaining what a woman even is.

Jeremy Corbyn

No one deserves more credit for the Tories’ recent electoral victory than, ironically, the Leader of the Labour Party. Whether it was watching gleefully as his acolytes vilified and purged the party of anyone to the right of Marx, turning a blind eye to antisemitism within the Labour membership and party apparatus, failing to articulate a coherent Brexit policy, or ignoring warning after warning that he was going to lose yet another election, Jeremy Corbyn has consigned the United Kingdom to five more years—at least—of Conservative rule. Well done, Jez. You royally screwed us all.

Dishonourable mentions: Justin Trudeau, Kanye West, Matt Gaetz

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Gina Miller

There are few public figures on either side of the Atlantic as tenacious as Gina Miller. Once again dragging the Government to the Supreme Court—this time to make sure Boris Johnson couldn’t unlawfully prorogue Parliament to force through his Brexit deal—Gina Miller has continued to be the most vocal and effective champion for parliamentary democracy. It’s ironic, really, that an arch-Europhile has become Parliament’s biggest cheerleader considering parliamentary supremacy is supposedly what Brexit is all about. But then, this entire decade has been an experiment in horrifying irony.

Taylor Swift

She dropped a banger of an album—her best since 2014’s 1989—including the instant classic “You Need to Calm Down,” which has become the newest LGBT anthem. It is her fight for artistic control and women’s rights, though, which has landed Taylor Swift on this year’s nice list. Taking on Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, who have control of the master recordings for her first six albums, took some serious guts. Swift didn’t even blink. A true role model and trailblazer, T-Swift has steadfastly stood up for the rights of artists, especially female artists, to control their careers and the work they produce. I look forward to hearing her new masters when she re-records her back catalogue in 2020.

Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips has been one of the most sensible voices in Labour since she was first elected to Parliament in 2015. Her blunt analysis of Labour’s defeat, written for the Guardian, is essential reading for anyone wondering just what went wrong with Corbynism. “I can’t help but think that the fact we saw only a tiny swing away from Labour in my seat was because of our ability to disagree well, with good humour and a shared vernacular,” she wrote earlier this month, adding that “you don’t have to agree with every word someone says if you have good faith in their intentions.” Phillips’ calls for Labour to stop talking down to the working class and her call for civility in political discourse—especially on social media—is a breath of fresh air and one that should be heeded by all sides of every debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill

There were a lot of heroes to arise from the Ukraine scandal, including the as-of-now anonymous whistleblower and former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Vindman and Hill share one trait in common, though, that makes them both unique among those who testified about Donald Trump’s abuse of power—they’re both immigrants. Lt. Col. Vindman immigrated from Ukraine to the United States as a child, while Dr. Hill, originally from the North of England, became an American citizen in 2002. Listening to these principled national security experts and erstwhile presidential advisers detail the corruption within the Trump Administration while espousing their own patriotism was inspiring, especially at a time when the President and his supporters demonize immigrants.

The Hong Kong Protesters

At a time when democracy is under threat around the world, it is inspiring to see a movement for freedom accomplish so much and sustain itself so well. It started back in June over objections to a bill allowing extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China, but it has mushroomed into a movement for democracy, including universal suffrage and an end to police brutality. China, an authoritarian state which does not tolerate dissent, has responded by gassing protestors and labelling them terrorists, but these freedom fighters are not backing down. Obviously the issues at play here are far more complicated than I can explain in one blog, let alone one paragraph, and I encourage you to check out Lausan, a website dedicated to bringing the voices and perspectives of protestors to the wider world—and support them any way you can in 2020 and beyond.

Honourable mentions: Wes Streeting, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Cuomo

Who made your naughty and nice list this year? Tell me in the comments below! And from my blog to yours, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2020!

Skylar Baker-Jordan is a freelance writer focusing on UK and US politics. His work has appeared at the Independent, Huff Post UK, Salon, and elsewhere. He lives in Tennessee.

So you’ve elected a national joke. Now what?

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Boris Johnson is the new leader of the Conservatives. Photo: LBC/PA

Well, it was as expected. Boris Johnson handily defeated Jeremy Hunt to be the next leader of the Conservatives and, by the time you’re reading this—he still has to ask Her Majesty—will be Prime Minister. A lot of people to the left of Enoch Powell are understandably forlorn right now. Luckily for you, dear British readers, your American cousins have some experience with electing a national joke as our leader. After two-and-a-half years of Donald Trump, allow me to impart some hard-won wisdom:

  • Go get drunk. The day following Trump’s election, I was in Sheffield. I began drinking at 9:00 AM and didn’t stop until the pub closed. The landlord and his girlfriend actually let me in a little early because they knew how I upset I was. Drinking numbs the many emotions you’re likely to feel—despair, anger, fear, annoyance, a dark sort of amusement at the shitstorm that’s to come—and allows you to, at least for a day, forget that you feel completely fucked
  • Keep some perspective. I didn’t do this after Trump’s election, and I regret it. It made my response to his election less effective and equated more to a temper tantrum than anything else. Don’t make that mistake. Keep calm. Trump is repugnant and Johnson is bad, but neither are Hitler. For now, they can both be defeated through democratic means. Despite how it may feel, this isn’t Years and Years. We’re still about four or five years away from that. Things may seem hopeless, but for now our institutions on both sides of the Atlantic remain intact and are functioning at some level, anyway
  • Avoid the “well I didn’t vote for him”/”not MY prime minister” nonsense. It’s tempting to distance yourself from Boris Johnson, especially since only Tory Party members got to vote for him. Talk about how that’s unfair, if you think it is, but don’t throw your toys out of the pram. It won’t win anyone on the right over and, while it will make you feel better, it doesn’t accomplish much, and this isn’t about you as an individual. It’s about the country as a whole. Keep your eye on the prize
  • Keep a journal. It’s hard to remember every outrage and every terrifying action. Keeping a journal where you mention “today Johnson compared Muslim women to letterboxes” or “he used a racial slur today” is helpful to look back on when you need to remember specific details about why your leader is so awful
  • Watch for entryism. You’ve seen it in Labour with the hard left, and it happened with the Republicans over a few years too, where an emboldened far right joined and changed the trajectory of the party. Keep a careful eye to make sure the Tories don’t tick so far right they end up as UKIP mark two
  • Organise. The Democrats were only able to take the House of Representatives back in 2018 because we pounded the pavement and made the case against Trumpism. Grassroots organising has been vital to helping curtail the worst of Donald Trump, whether it’s against ICE—I see regular social media updates from friends in Chicago about where ICE agents are spotted to help immigrant families avoid them—or against his latest dalliance with neo-Nazis. We don’t always win (Kavanaugh), but we always fight
  • Watch how other Tories respond. Tribalism is arguably worse in UK politics than it is in US politics (or, at least it was four years ago). Will Conservative backbenchers fall in line with every destructive policy Johnson introduces, or will the stand on principle when they really do oppose him? Our Republicans have largely rolled over for Trump, so watch to see how Nicky Morgan, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, etc behave over the course of Johnson’s premiership
  • Build coalitions. Keep your eyes on the prize – defeating Boris Johnson. The internecine warfare in Labour needs to end and the party needs to coalesce. Given the real concerns with anti-Semitism, that seems unlikely (and look, hard to blame those against anti-Semitism for not backing down). So look elsewhere. Build electoral coalitions with the Greens and, yes, with the Liberal Democrats if you must. When you’re dealing with a Bannon-backed populist, as Johnson is, nothing matters as much as defeating him. Getting Johnson out of Number 10 and electing a centrist or left-of-centre government is most crucial right now, not ideological purity
  • Chin up. Despite what you might thing, the world keeps spinning. The sun rises in the morning. Ben Mitchell still picks fights on EastEnders. Life goes on, and your day-to-day life won’t change very much. If that sounds like I’m minimising what you’re feeling or the latest groundswell of populism in the Western world, I’m not. But it’s important to keep your wits about you and have some perspective

Don’t be too downtrodden after today. Go ahead and lick your wounds, but tomorrow the fight continues. 31 October is just over three months away, so there’s plenty of work to do in not a long amount of time. Get drunk, and then get to work.

Boris Johnson just proved he is Donald Trump’s stooge

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Boris Johnson literally gets a pat on the back from Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters/The Mirror

There was a moment in last night’s ITV debate between Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson where the yellow-haired muppet told us exactly what kind of prime minister he will be. Poundshop Donald Trump refused to back Britain’s embattled ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, by saying he would “not be so presumptuous” on when Darroch—scheduled to retire in six or so months—would leave his job and that “I alone will decide who takes important and politically sensitive jobs” – a terrifying thought in the best of times.

These are not the best of times, though. They are quite possibly the end times, with Boris’ all-but-inevitable move into Number 10 the opening of the seventh seal, behind the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, the fire at Notre Dame, California earthquakes, and, of course, Joe’s departure from Love Island. The world is already despairing. Yet somehow, the once and future clown of the Conservative Party has somehow made it all worse.

Sir Kim came under fire over the weekend when confidential diplomatic cables he sent back to London, in which he called Donald Trump “inept” and “insecure” and his administration “uniquely dysfunctional,” were leaked in that most reputable and esteemed of publications, the Mail on Sunday. Sir Kim managed to hang on throughout Monday and Tuesday, despite repeated personal attacks by Donald Trump. His position became untenable, at least in his eyes, though when his all-but-guaranteed future boss refused to publicly support him. Boris Johnson’s refusal to stand by Britain’s ambassador to the United States is said to be the driving force behind his decision to resign.

The relationship between Donald Trump and Boris Johnson has long been one of rabid speculation, with many feeling that the erstwhile mayor of London and the current charlatan-in-chief were too cozy. “Boris Johnson is a friend of mine,” Donald Trump said last year after Johnson resigned as foreign secretary. “He has been very, very nice to me, very supportive.” To Trump, being nice to him, being very supportive of him, is what counts. Not right or wrong, or good or bad, or smart or stupid. All that matters is that you kiss the ring.

Boris Johnson knows this, and so last night he gave Trump something he desperately wanted and rid him of that troublesome ambassador. By refusing to support Sir Kim, Johnson basically handed him a P45. Donald Trump could be laughing all the way from the White House toilet.

That Johnson would throw a career diplomat and one of the most senior members of the British Civil Service under the bus to appease the tangerine tyrant is enough to disqualify him from ever even stepping foot on Downing Street. But what’s truly terrifying is what it means further down the road. Last night, Boris Johnson demonstrated two deeply concerning qualities that make the notion of his premiership utterly terrifying.

To begin with is the obvious: when it comes to defending British values and people—whether they’re senior civil servants or run-of-the-mill citizens, as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe would tell you if she wasn’t starving in an Iranian prison—Johnson will always choose self-interest. As of last night, part of that self-interest is in sucking up to the nectarine Neanderthal currently pretending to govern America.

That is deeply concerning for civil servants and the diplomatic corp. Nothing Sir Kim said was wrong, or malicious, or a lie. It was the stone-cold truth. If our diplomats cannot relay their frank and honest assessments without fear of reprisal, then the Foreign Office cannot function as it should. They perform a vital service, and part of their ability to perform that service is the knowledge that there will be no reprisals for their honesty. This is true not just of diplomats but across the civil service. When the women and men trusted with giving expert advice to the government of the day no longer feel confident doing so, something has gone very awry.

Beyond this, though, is the fact that Boris refused to defend his countryman. If Boris Johnson can’t, or won’t, stand up to Trump in defence of his ambassador’s frank assessment of the situation in Washington, it is unfathomable that he will stand up to Trump on foreign affairs or trade.

Trump is a man who has publicly said that he wants the NHS on the table during any US-UK trade negotiations. We already know that Trump wants to push up drug prices in the UK. Trump wants US companies to have more access to the NHS than they already do, which many fear would accelerate a privistation crisis which has been ongoing under the Tory-led government of the last 9 years.

Given what we’ve seen so far, there is no indication that Boris wouldn’t gladly carve up the NHS on a sacrificial alter of Trumpism just to secure a trade deal for his wealthy friends. His first policy announced during this leadership race was a tax cut for the most wealthy, which tells you where his priorities lie. It is entirely likely that Prime Minister Boris, eager to strike a trade deal with the United States after leading a no-deal Brexit, would do whatever it took to get Trump to the signing table.

Once there, I cringe to think what Boris will do to appease his new boss. What we know he won’t do is stand up for Britain’s best interests. He showed us that last night, and because of it, a career civil servant and one of Britain’s most prominent diplomats was forced to resign. Who will Boris throw under the bus next? Probably all of us.

Well, all of you. I live in America. I’ve had two and a half years to get used to being governed by a bumbling blonde baboon. You become somewhat numb to it after a while, probably because you start drinking all the time. Stock up on wine before you can’t get it through the Port of Dover.

The thing is, though, the British people will have it worse than the American people. Donald Trump is clearly the one calling the shots (though I still think he takes orders from Vladimir Putin – every boss has a boss, they say). Boris Johnson has made clear he’ll do as he’s told. You, in return, get Brexit and higher prescription drug costs. And Donald Trump gets a stooge in Number 10.

 

Brexit: It’s time to accept reality and fight for a progressive future outside the EU

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In Campaigners react to the referendum results. Photo: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

It’s done and dusted. The Great British public has spoken, and they have voted—narrowly—to leave the European Union. This is the greatest political upheaval of my lifetime, and probably yours, too. To say we’re in uncharted waters is an understatement; no country has ever left the EU, and there is no map showing where Britain goes from here. The pound has already tumbled to its lowest value since 1985, the biggest fall since Black Wednesday in 1992. David Cameron’s career is unlikely to survive the morning, meaning the country will probably be without a Prime Minister in mere hours. Sinn Fein is already calling for reunification, and the SNP are pushing for another Scottish referendum.

For these reasons, and many more, we should all be nervous. But now is not the time to give into fear or bitterness. Europhiles, particularly Remain campaigners, are understandably heartbroken right now. There has been a lot of tears, a lot of anger, and a lot of disgust at Leave voters on social media. As someone who supported Britain remaining in the EU, I completely agree. It’s devastating. But in the words of Jo Cox, we really do have more in common. There is far more that unites us than divides us.

The In campaign needs to remember this now more than ever. Regardless of why people voted for Brexit—and there were legitimate reasons and concerns—the fact is the Leave campaign has been dominated by xenophobia, racism, and isolationism. Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have set the parameters of the debate surrounding Britain’s vote. They cannot be allowed to dictate Britain’s withdraw.

It’s time for the In campaign to lick its wounds, pick itself up, and get to the new task at hand: making sure that the brave new world we now occupy is not one dominated by bigotry and fearmongering. It is time for us to look not at the past, but at the future. Britain has left the European Union. There is no going back. For the sake of the most vulnerable—the workers who could lose rights the EU has guaranteed, the sick who depend on an NHS free at the point of access, the immigrants who now feel ostracised and unsafe—we cannot throw our hands up and say “you reap what you sow.” It’s time to shift the fight from keeping Britain in the EU to making sure its exit produces a fair and just society.

Part of this is accepting that the majority of voters who voted for Brexit are good and decent people. Yes, the Leave campaign has been horrible, but most Leave voters aren’t. I firmly believe in the goodness of the British people. They are fair-minded, compassionate, and wise. One vote does not define a nation.

We have to ask why working class voters opted to Leave, listen to their gripes and concerns, and directly address them. The Remain camp spent far too much of this campaign dismissing their fears instead of presenting the case for how the EU could alleviate them. We can’t do that anymore. We have to listen. We must act.

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson won tonight, but they do not have to win in the end. Wallowing in self-pity or vitriol is not only counterproductive, but it is a betrayal of the principles so many of us campaigned for over the past few weeks. It is more vital than ever before that we present a progressive, positive alternative to the reactionary, negative politics of Farage. Indeed, UKIP exists for the sole purpose of securing Britain’s withdraw from the EU. Their raison d’être accomplished, those of us in the centre and on the left must now make sure they disappear from power across the country and cease to influence the political discourse.

Britain is great. It was great before the European Union. It was great in the European Union. It can be great outside of the European Union, if only we fight to secure a fair, compassionate future. The worst of Britain may have campaigned to leave, but now is the time for the best of Britain to lead its exit.

So cry your eyes out. Maybe get rip-roaring drunk. Punch a wall if you must. But then, tomorrow, wake up, wipe away your tears, take an aspirin, and ice your first. There’s work to be done, a future to shape, and a country to lead.

Skylar Baker-Jordan is journalist and cultural critic who writes about British politics and LGBT rights. His work has appeared at Salon, The Daily Dot, The Advocate, Pink News, and elsewhere. He founded The Curious American in 2013. He lives in Chicago.

I’m a Brexiter at heart. Vote Remain.

I hate the European Union. It is a bloated corporatist quango run by technocrats none of us have ever heard of who seem to have an utter contempt for the British people and, well, democracy. EU leaders seem committed to further integration and a United States of Europe, except without the republican values of the United States of America. The Eurozone is floundering, the Schengen border area is broken, and—rightly or wrongly—the British people are fed up with the free flow of European migrants into the UK, unable to control who comes into the country or adopt what many, myself included, feel is a fairer immigration system.

As an American, I don’t have a vote in tomorrow’s referendum. As someone trying to immigrate to the UK from outside the EU, a Brexit would, ostensibly, be in my best interests. As a Eurosceptic, I believe it could also be in Britain’s best interests. But if I did have a vote tomorrow, I would vote for Britain to remain in the European Union.

I would vote Remain not out of some love for the European project, or some starry-eyed internationalism. I would vote Remain because the Leave campaign has not done a successful job of demonstrating just what a Britain outside the EU would look like, how it would cope and succeed.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly think Britain could be not only fine, but prosperous, outside the European Union. But “could” does not mean “will”. The Leave campaign likes to say that anyone voting Remain denigrates Britain, that they don’t believe in or trust the ingenuity and tenacity of the British people. Bollocks. I have no doubts Britain could succeed outside the EU. But no country can succeed without a plan, and nobody in the Leave campaign has been able to articulate one short of “everything the experts tell you is a lie.”

Was President Obama lying, when he warned Britain will go to the back of the queue for trade deals. UKIP’s Diane James, on last night’s BBC Debate, said she didn’t care what Obama thought, but wanted to know what Clinton and Trump think. Clinton also supports the In campaign, while Trump is for Brexit, which speaks volumes about the tone and tenor of this referendum. And what about with the EU itself? Is Angela Merkel lying when she says that Britain “will never get a really good result in negotiations?”

The EU could make an example out of Britain for fear that treating it too kindly post-Brexit could inspire other nations to go their own way. And maybe that would be okay, if only someone in the Leave campaign could articulate exactly how they plan on handling that and preventing total economic catastrophe. But they haven’t. Instead of policy, the Leave campaign has offered platitudes about how great the British people are (and you are, you really are) and how everything will be a-okay because we will it to be (it won’t, it really won’t).  When both the Bank of England and the TUC are warning that Brexit will depress wages and probably lead to recession, we should listen.

Instead Michael Gove compares them to Nazi scientists. This is one of the Leave campaigns favourite motifs, the EU as Hitler’s heir. It’s almost laughably ironic, considering how overtly and covertly racist the Leave campaign has been. The bulk of the Leave campaign has focused on xenophobic rhetoric about European migrants coming to steal British jobs and take British homes and depress British wages. This entire campaign has been made about immigration, and it has been framed in the most disgustingly racist way possible. Like Johnson’s comments about America’s “part-Kenyan” president, or Farage’s “Breaking Point” poster. It’s the anti-Muslim retweets of the Leave campaign, the dehumanising language used to describe refugees. I can’t co-sign on any of this.

If another referendum were to present itself, one not premised on far-right racism and jingoistic fervour, perhaps I’d go another way. And maybe, someday, it will. But David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Ruth Davidson, and Sadiq Kahn have all said, which is that Brexit is a one-way ticket. Once the UK leaves, there is no going back to the European Union. At least not without adopting Schengen and the Euro, which most of agree is no in Britain’s national interest. Britain could always vote to leave in another 40 years, but it can’t come back on such cushy terms.

There are a myriad of other issues at play here too, issues I’ve not touched on but have swayed my hypothetical vote. What happens to the border in Northern Ireland? Will the SNP demand—and get—another referendum? How will we protect the hard-won rights the EU and ancillary bodies have guaranteed? These all need to be answered, and the Leave campaign hasn’t.

I’m not prepared to gamble with the livelihoods of the British people or the stability of the country out of some nationalistic desire to reclaim sovereignty. I desperately want Britain to Leave the EU, but the Leave campaign hasn’t presented a viable alternative. You don’t leave home without knowing where you’re going, and Britain shouldn’t leave the EU without knowing what it’s going to do next.

Instead of presenting a cogent, coherent exit strategy, the Leave campaign played to the basest instincts of the electorate and stirred up a jingoistic, xenophobic atmosphere. Because of this, I don’t know what Britain would look like outside the European Union, but I can’t honestly say I think it’s a Britain I would like. So, reluctantly, I ask you to vote Remain.

(Sorry, Alex.)

’tis better to give than recieve. That’s crap. But here’s a present anyway.

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Last week, I published my Christmas wish list, and kindly expected y’all to deliver. What can I say? Greed is good. Boris says so.

Still, they say the greatest gift is giving. This is, of course, rubbish, as the greatest gift is cash so I can avoid returning whatever hideous or useless gift you thoughtlessly picked up on your way to the Poundsaver till. But still, in the spirit of the season, here’s my gift to Britain this Christmas:

  • I give the gift of vibration to Lord Heseltine. Get your head of the gutters, you lot. Not that sort of vibration (though maybe 50 years ago…). Phone vibration. This way, the next time his wife rings him as he films Question Time, Dimbleby needn’t be bothered.
  • Guido Fawkes brought to our attention that Boris’ hair is receding along with his credibility. I can’t do much about the latter, but as to the former, I gladly give Boris a box of Regaine.
  • To the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I give the gift of babysitting. Prince George is adorbs, and I have five nieces and nephews so I can totes handle this, babes. You deserve a bit of a date night, don’t you?
  • I give Lynton Crosby to the University of London Union. He’s great at turning out he votes, and you not so much. I also give solidarity.
  • David Cameron gets a selfie with me, since he’s so keen on being seen with Americans. And since he’s got the Regaine now, Boris can be the flirty blond.
  • Angela Merkel gets a telegraph, since that seems to be the only way she can safely communicate electronically.
  • Putin gets donkeypunched by Uncle Sam. If you don’t know what that means, Google it. Warning: NSFW.
  • I’d like to buy Anjem Choudary a pint. Seriously mate, you need it.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gets this children’s book. Remember what happened the last time Spain messed with a Queen Elizabeth.
  • I give British Gas customers Jack Wills jumpers. You might not be able to afford you energy bills, but you shiver in style with these fashionable fleeces!
  • Katie Hopkins gets a map of Asia. See that big country down to the south? That’s India. It’s a place, you see. And if you look to the northeast, you may be able to locate a lovely Japanese town I think you ought to visit. It’s called Fukue.
  • Alan Rusbridger gets a class on journalistic ethics taught by Louise Mensch. I’ll even throw in a freebie on investigative reporting, since she seems to be the only one uncovering just how badly you’ve British national security.
  • That being said, Edward Snowden gets amnesty here in America, but only if he brings home the documents. And marries my best friend, cos she’s kinda keen.
  • Russell Brand gets a haircut and perhaps a bit of substance, provided he doesn’t abuse it.
  • Laurie Penny gets a mini American flag to waive, as she seems to be here more than I am. You’re not a proper American until you waive the stars and stripes at a street parade. And also eaten a deep fried Twinkie.
  • Rand Paul and Shia LaBeouf both get an English 101 course, which should teach you how to properly cite your sources. And perhaps form coherent sentences. But baby steps.
  • Greg Rutherford gets all the television appearances he wants, and perhaps a new kit deal. Seriously. A boy’s gotta eat.
  • Alex Ferguson gets a villa in Spain or Cornwall or wherever pensioners go to sun themselves. Just steer clear of Florida. It’s like Duck Dynasty down there.
  • Gay and lesbian Londoners and Chicagoans get marriage counselling. We now get to be as miserable as straight people. Ah, equality.
  • Single gay and lesbian Londoners and Chicagoans get tequila. It’ll help numb the nagging this Christmas. Suddenly we have no excuse when grandma asks why we haven’t settled down. Damn.
  • Justin Bieber gets a copy of a biography, any biography, of Michael Jackson. I cannot stand aside and watch history repeat itself. He even had a monkey, for Christ’s sake! No. I won’t be party to this. Justin, we’re here to help, buddy.
  • Chris Ramsey gets my apologies for gratuitously lusting after him, and also an American tour so I can do it in person.

Finally, to all my friends, family, readers, followers, and everyone who has helped make my return to writing this year an enjoyable if tumultuous ride, a massive thank you. I’m still finding my voice, but it’s great to be back. 2014 is going to be tremendous. I can’t wait.