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James Millar: Everyone has rolled over and accepted Brexit except the SNP – and that could save them

As time ticks by, more people will tire of the effects of Brexit and puzzle at why almost every political party is doing nothing.

The impact of Brexit continues to be felt across the UK (Image: nito/Shutterstock)
The impact of Brexit continues to be felt across the UK (Image: nito/Shutterstock)

As the border guard stamped my passport on my way out of the EU after an Easter holiday, it felt more like a blow to my body.

I was performing my own personal Brexit. My first since Brexit.

I ought to have been glad to turn my back on a continent that seemed to be largely laughing at the UK and its residents.

While buying stamps for my postcards, the shop assistant couldn’t help but snigger as she realised her mistake, put the euro stamps back and plucked out the more expensive ones needed now we’re out of the EU.

Perusing the pizza menus in Venice, I was intrigued by the most expensive item on one particular list – the Brexit pizza. The waiter laughed as he explained that, for your €15, you got an empty plate.

This in Italy, the country that Brexiteers insisted would be next out the door in the stampede to follow us out of the EU.

The Italians, just like the Irish, Danes and Hungarians and everyone else who was believed to be ambivalent about the EU, have looked at the nonsense that’s played out over here and determined that, when you buy a Brexit, you get nothing in return. But even that is a generous reading.

Later this year, new border checks will come into effect that’ll add around £400 million to the cost of doing business with the continent. The UK Government claimed this is a £400 million saving, given that it had initially estimated the costs at north of £800 million.

But that’s like someone threatening to burn your house down, then expecting thanks when it’s only the garage that’s destroyed. And the car. And the kitchen.

Guilty men and women of Brexit are still trying to distract

It’s unfortunately not an original observation, but it bears repeating – the Brexit discourse would be immeasurably improved by some honesty. There are costs to the policy, whether that be inconvenience at the immigration desks or the new red tape around customs and trading standards.

The stories of Brussels demanding unbendy bananas or curveless cucumbers were exaggerated at best and fabricated at worst. The bill for cross border trade and tax is real, and it’s here.

Whether deluded, daft or dishonest, those who seek to obfuscate or distract from that fact are the guilty men and women of Brexit. And, as their folly unfurls, they are driven increasingly extreme.

See Liz Truss’s recent tour of the US, during which she told a series of audiences where everyone else was going wrong, without addressing the fact that she failed more completely than any other prime minister in history, and her ideology was entirely repudiated. Despite addressing free speech fanatics, no spectator exercised their rights by telling her to get in the bin.

Truss, yet again, pointed her finger at the forces of woke culture and the anti-growth coalition as enemies, despite the fact that both are phantoms. She might as well blame an army of bunyips and the Loch Ness monster for the upending of her ambitions.

The bald truth is that she was wrong. And it’s increasingly obvious that her fellow travellers were equally incorrect.

Brexit is not done

Yet, the body politic has swallowed Brexit. There was dreadful indigestion between 2016 and 2019, but it is now almost universally accepted. Despite the costs and the cobblers, who speaks out against it?

The answer is the equally unpalatable remainiacs on the internet. And the SNP. (Even the Lib Dems are damping down Brexit rhetoric in favour of an increasing obsession with the dog walker constituency whose pets keep swimming in sewage because the waterways are so polluted.)

Only one mainstream party in UK politics is agitating for a return to the EU fold as swiftly as possible. Clearly, there are a number of hurdles to clear for them to get there. Like an unlikely win in an unlikely independence referendum, and then Brussels allowing entry on straightforward terms.

Anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray demonstrates outside Westminster in January 2020 (Image: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock)

But, come the next general election, if you are fed up with the slights of Italian stamp sellers, or the costs to your company to export to Europe, or the verbal sewage spewing forth from those that inflicted Brexit on the nation, then your only option is to back the SNP.

The Nats are clearly in a sticky spot right now. It won’t be this bad for them forever. And, as time ticks by, more and more people will tire of the queues when they go on holiday and the lack of tomatoes in the supermarket at home, and they will puzzle at why every other party is ignoring the cause.

Brexit is not done. And it’ll continue to be a factor in our politics. For the SNP, currently written off, it could be the route back to not just relevance, but dominance.

James Millar is a political commentator, author and a former Westminster correspondent for The Sunday Post