Schrodinger’s Brexit soap opera

Dr Patrick Carvalho
Insights Newsletter
12 April, 2019

Saturday morning, reading the news, sipping the first coffee of the day in my sunlit balcony: Life is good and simple.

Until I remembered my promise to take my daughter shopping for a new unicorn doll that morning.

– “Let’s go, daddy!”

– “Yes, sweetheart. We are leaving. Just hold on a bit,” I said, trying to buy some time.

– “Dad, stop Brexiting. Let’s just get out already!”

All right. I have to admit that made me pause… Since when did my little one know about Brexit, and more importantly, since when did “Brexiting” become a real verb?

According to Urban Dictionary, an online slang glossary guide, Brexiting is the act of “saying goodbye to everyone at a party and then proceeding to stick around”.

Fair enough. That is the tragicomic state of Britain’s self-imposed tribulations.

The United Kingdom, the fifth-largest economy in the world and once the largest empire in history, and the birthplace of the Magna Carta, the Industrial Revolution and liberalism, has been reduced to an embarrassing political soap opera.

The situation is so acute that even Tony Blair seems a credible and sensible commentator.

Speaking on a radio show about the Brexit negotiations, the former prime minister cleared the drama plot: [Spoiler Alert!] “… the choice is ultimately between a pointless Brexit, in which the UK stays closely tied to the EU and becomes a rule taker, or it sets its own rules and must accept the corresponding pain. The government has been attempting to find a middle ground that does not exist.”

If only British lawmakers could find a way to be in and to be out of the European Union at the same time.

That’s an outcome only possible in Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, where a cat placed in a sealed box hit by electromagnetic radiation can be simultaneously alive and dead.

But quantum physics superposition is not an option in the political realm.

British lawmakers need to face the consequences of leaving – or not – the European Union. It is not a matter of compromise but accepting the reality of mutually exclusive choices.

The longer they dither, the longer the melodrama will last.

In the meantime, I decided to stop dithering myself and take my daughter out to buy her a unicorn doll – before she changed her mind and asked for a furry kitten instead.

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