Heaven, hell or purgatory: 3 outcomes of the Brexit crisis

by Hugo Dixon | 26.07.2018

The word “crisis” derives from a Greek word meaning judgement. A crisis doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. It can also mean opportunity. Indeed, at the day of judgement, people don’t necessarily end up in hell. They can also go to heaven – or get stuck in perpetual purgatory.

So it is with Brexit. Hell is the crash-out self-immolation beloved by Jacob Rees-Mogg and his gang. Purgatory is the Brexit being pushed by Theresa May, in which we follow EU rules without a vote on them and don’t even get full access to its market. Heaven is avoiding Brexit entirely.

We are not yet at the day of judgement. But we could be there by the autumn or early winter. At the moment, all three scenarios are possible.

The prime minister’s perpetual purgatory has taken a huge knock over the past month. Nobody likes her Chequers proposal. Boris Johnson resigned over it. The EU won’t agree to it. It is, indeed, a miserable way forward.

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But May is still sitting in Downing Street. Some “son of Chequers” –  involving more humiliating concessions by the prime minister and piles of fudge – may yet emerge from the horse-trading. And Parliament may hold its nose and approve it.

The good news is that the chance of ending up in “heaven” is also going up. The campaign for a People’s Vote is gathering steam. Doctors, nurses, midwives and students are backing it. So are Tory politicians such as Justine Greening and sports stars such as Gary Lineker. The Independent and The Economist have come out in favour.

Asking the people what they want at the end of the Brexit talks would be the democratic way of resolving a political crisis. But Parliament first needs to agree – and neither Labour nor the Tories are yet in favour. So we are still the underdogs in this fight.

And the really terrible thing is that the chance of “hell” is also rising. There’s no majority in Parliament for Rees-Mogg’s plan to take us over the abyss. So this is not the most likely scenario.

But the Brexit extremists are ramping up the blame game – trying to shift the responsibility for the mess they’ve landed us in on supposed enemies of the people both at home and abroad. They are devious, ruthless and determined.

We have to fight them and May all the way so we end in “heaven”.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

6 Responses to “Heaven, hell or purgatory: 3 outcomes of the Brexit crisis”

  • A much more logical, and viable form of “purgatory”, and one that would be readily acceptable to both the EU27 and the EFTA countries, (so I understand) would be to rejoin EFTA and be a full member of the EEA – plus staying in the Customs Union, so as to defuse the Irish border issue. Not very far from the Chequers proposals, but much clearer and more manageable in the time available. It’s not my preference, but it is at least a reasonable compromise for those who reckon we should aim for that above all else. Politically any further referendum has to offer something other than Remain, obviously, and the only reasonable alternatives are EEA/EFTA, and Leave with minimal continuing ties to the EU. A 3-way choice using a transferable vote, as Justine Greening suggests – dead easy to organise.

  • On a theological level, I think, has the catholic church stated over the last year that Purgatory no longer exists? (Sorry if it is limbo – I can’t be bothered checking up on the current nonsense spouted by the church, believing that all states are equally preposterous).
    Just as very few people knew what they were voting for in 2016, practically no-one knows the rules of either EFTA or the EEA, or what ramifications the UK would effect, coming out of one big organisation and entering another.
    Another referendum would be futile if another simplistic binary question were asked; even Greening’s choice of three options wouldn’t allay the squabbling and back-biting. Instead of settling the question, Cameron and May have turned the UK into a nightmare version of the Tory Party writ large, and this will continue for decades, whatever happens.
    Labour, much as I admire JC, is no better, and the prospect of a change of government fills me with no enthusiasm if the same policies are enacted – other thanto get rids of this current pack of incompetents and snake-oil salesmen.
    The main loser is this never-ending clown-show is the reputation of the UK itself; that will never be repaired, either in these shores or in the rest of the world.

  • A 3-way vote would be a death warrant for remain, Richard, even if done French style with a delayed final run off, though that would be better

    Each extra leave option bolsters the Leave position in the minds of voters, increases the total number of Leave voters and depletes the Remainers, some of whom migrate to the various options on the Leave side. The common error is to assume there is a fixed number of Leavers who divide up between the Leave options – it doesn’t work quite like that.

    See my article here



  • As a viable option, why not just cancel the exit and stay in? To be sure there will be some bruises to be faced up to. Not only will our own fanatics have to be contained, it will take some artful talking to be let off the hook for the millions (billions?) spent and wasted by the EU and businesses for no purpose. Sadly, none of the perpetrators of this massive fraud will be punished, rather they will demand compensation, or something. It is clearly the best option and one we should pursue.

  • You’ve overlooked an important point about Purgatory. It is never perpetual. You always get out of it in the end, and the only exit leads to Heaven.

  • Although that would be the best option by a huge margin the referendum happened. It shouldn’t be ignored. So to respond democratically to the June 2016 decision the public could be given another chance to vote.
    The justification would be that the previous vote was taken by a public not well-informed and seriously misled by some of the claims, particularly from the Leave side, who have also now been found guilty of electoral criminal activity. Further justification would be that sometime soon the government will negotiate some sort of understandable plan which can be put to the public so they can decide what they want. And of course a vote later in time supersedes an earlier vote.