Brexit explained in one very simple analogy about a dirty, dirty skirt.

Confused about Brexit? You’re not alone, friend. Even the people who are supposed to be doing Brexit for their actual jobs have no idea what it is or how to make it be A Thing. So, allow us to present, in the most facile way we can think of – and one that listeners to Mamamia Out Loud will be all too familiar with – the UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit dilemma, in one clumsy analogy about a very messy skirt…

So back in the hazy days of 2016’s northern Summer, the people of Great Britain did something gross. 

They voted on whether – as a nation that comprises four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – they wanted to stay as a part of the continent of Europe, or leave, and stand alone as Great(ish) Britain.

The people who wanted to leave Europe were called The Brexiteers. And they were led by an annoying little racist in a flat cap and an annoying big ginger man with a loud voice. The people who wanted to stay in Europe were called the Remainers, and they were led (although not very convincingly, obviously) by the then-Prime Minister of Britain, a nice-enough posh chap called David Cameron.

The people, much to their future embarrassment, voted with the loud ginger and the flat-cap guy, and in doing so, made such a mess that Prime Minister Cameron had to resign. As a Remainer, he was hardly the person to guide the nation through what is possibly the most complex legal geopolitical negotiation of our era, and so a woman – posh again, steely, good at a hard stare – stepped up to the glass cliff. Her name is Theresa May, and she is Britain’s second-ever female Prime Minister.

Listen to Mamamia’s daily news podcast deep dive into Brexit. Post continues after audio.

You could say (and I will) that PM May was left with a big smelly turd on her lap, and tasked with cleaning it up.

Now, none of the people who dumped the poo there – the flat-cap racist, the loud ginger, any of their posse of victorious pals – wanted anything to do with the clean up. They all backed away slowly, pointing at the mess.

Soon everyone was doing the same. “Gosh,” the Brexiteers and Remainers alike said, pointing at May’s messy skirt. “What a smelly old poo you’ve got there. What an enormous mess. What are you going to do about that, then?”

So they left May to head off to Brussels – where the European Parliament lives – to try to clean it off. This proved much, much harder than it looked. It seemed that all of the millions of stakeholders in this mind-bendingly complicated process were all upset about something different – immigration, currency, what happens to Northern Ireland’s border with European Ireland, trade deals, freedom of movement – and no-one could agree on anything.

“Use the stain-remover,” some of them said, gesturing at the poo stain. “Use the scourer!” Others shouted.

“Maybe you’re going to need a trowel.”

“No, you need a warm cloth and some salt to get that out.”

The only thing that anyone could agree on was that however May was trying to get the shit off her skirt – scrubbing this way, rubbing that – she was definitely doing it wrong.

Every time she returned to the UK Parliament with another plan for how to get rid herself and the nation of the stinking mess, her fellow Parliamentarians would listen to her idea, talk amongst themselves and then have a vote.


Watch: John Oliver on Brexit’s aftermath. Post continues after audio.

The votes kept saying, “No. That’s a terrible idea. Scrub harder.”

This shit-show has now been going on for TWO YEARS AND SEVEN MONTHS.

Last week, May made possibly her last valiant effort to convince her colleagues that she’d finally found the dry cleaners. They all just listened to her beg for 10 minutes – with the croaky voice of a woman whose career is dying inside her – and then said, again, “Yeah, nah.”

Now what the Parliament has agreed on is that May’s got to go back to Brussels to ask for an extension on Brexit. As if the Euro Parliament is the Principal’s office and Brexit is an essay that she hasn’t been able to finish for TWO AND A HALF YEARS because no-one will give her a pen.

And since as far as the rest of Europe is concerned, Britain has dumped them cold and they’ve already agreed to the only terms they’re going to agree on, most likely Brussels will laugh in May’s face and point at her skirt and say, “We think you sat in something.”

The official divorce date between Britain and Europe was meant to be March 29. May is lobbying July 1 as a much better idea.

And we all need to hope that before the auspicious date, that Spotless lady Shannon Lush gets her hands on May’s skirt, because if she doesn’t, the world is facing a NO DEAL BREXIT.

Look, it sounds terrifying, but I can’t tell you what that is because no-one has even the faintest idea.

Another thing that could happen is that the Leader of the Opposition – a man called Jeremy Corbyn, who’s like Bernie Sanders except not as good – gets his way and a General Election is called so that May can finally take the shit-skirt off and hand it over to some other poor bugger. Although, since that’s likely to be Corbyn, who knows why he’s asking for that. 

And then there’s also a large section of the Parliament and population who wants everyone to just admit that people don’t really know anything anyway and that the public referendum on Brexit should happen all over again. Except something different should happen at the end. And then it would be like the shit was never on the skirt in the first place. 

And it was all a terrible dream.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

You can follow Holly Wainwright on Facebook here. And buy her books, here

Listen to Holly, Jessie Stephens and Mia Freedman talking Brexit and shit-skirt on Mamamia Out Loud:

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