A clip of Guardian political columnist Rafael Behr is making the rounds on Twitter after he summed up the maelstrom of Brexit in less than two minutes of pure fire.
Behr appeared on BBC Politics Live alongside MEP Ben Habib, Labour candidate Faiza Shaeen and The Daily Telegraph’s Madeline Grant to talk about Brexit, the result of the Peterborough by-election and the future of the Conservative party.
The show’s host, Jo Coburn posed the following question to Behr: “Is Labour’s position on a second referendum becoming clearer?”
“No, because there’s clear division across the party…within the leader’s office, between different MPs,” he began, in what goes on to be a succinct and savage take-down of the political circus surrounding the Brexit process.
I think we need to zoom out a little bit and ask what’s happened here. You had an argument in 2016, in very broad terms, in which – and this is a very important, very, very important point to make – no one, including people who voted remain, no one really understand exactly what withdrawing from the European Union would involve.
That was as true of people who voted remain as it was for people who voted leave.
You then triggered Article 50 and you had a process, a moment where Britain’s slightly abstract, weird, not very detailed, broadly fact-free debate about relationship with the European Union had a kind of bump into reality.
And someone had to go – the government ministers had to go – sit opposite the table from Michel Barnier and get schooled in the reality of what in actually means to withdraw from the European Union.
That process ended.
And on Brexiteers?
Most Brexiteers looked to the outcome of that process, and what it actually said about the strategic reality of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, freaked out, said, ‘We don’t like that. We don’t like the terms that come out of that. We reject it.’
And now, after the brush-by with reality, our European Union debate has just sort of sailed off and now you have the Brexit Party essentially talking about the process just like it’s 2016 again and in total defiance of the actual reality and all of the evidence base you have accrued over the last two/three years and the Labour Party sitting back from that and going, ‘Maybe, if this whole house burns down, a Tory whole project, we can walk across the ashes and become a government,
It’s basically embarrassing for every other country in the world looking at this and goes, ‘That is a country that doesn’t even believe in economic and political gravity anymore.’
His no-nonsense approach to Brexit and its brief historiography has impressed many online
For his part, Behr took the newfound attention in his stride, and after he noticed that the BBC clip went viral, he tweeted:
If I had known that people would be sharing a clip of me on the telly - and I'm very glad they are - I might have ironed my shirt a bit better before going on.