To be honest, it’s a miracle it’s lasted as long as it has done. But how many of us genuinely saw it going the distance -Till death do us part?
Forget the 10 years for Ben and Jennifer (not even Batman could save that one), the 8 years for Guy and Madonna and the 2 years for Johnny and Amber. Not to mention the 5 and a half years for Tom and Katie (oh, how we continue to miss TomKat), the nigh on 11 years for Tom and Nicole and, in the unlikely event you need reminding, the almost 3 years for Tom and Mimi. Compared to these, and a few more besides, the 45 year marriage between The UK and The EU has eclipsed the nuptials of many a celebrity coupling.
That’s not to say the course of true love has exactly run smooth. On the contrary. We’ve had a bumpy ride of it. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. We were never especially suited and like a lot of people who tie the knot, we probably didn’t quite know what we getting ourselves into. Mind you, the warning signs were there pretty early on. No sooner had the ceremony taken place and the bouquet been caught by Greece (i bet they regret not fumbling that catch) than we were starting to have our doubts. The honeymoon was over and barely 24 months from saying: “I do”, we were on the verge of saying: “I don’t”.
Instead of playing the disenchanted bride, packing our suitcase and heading back home to mother, we took the unprecedented step of having a referendum. In 1975, unlike in 2016, we made the decision to remain hitched. Of course, had we elected to leave the marriage back then, we’d still have been doing better than the 55 hours Britney and Jason managed to stay together for.
In light of what’s currently happening, I personally can’t help but ponder what would have transpired if, all that time ago, we hadn’t chosen to remain in a toxic relationship, which was already doomed to failure. Certainly the divorce would have ended up considerably cheaper and relatively uncomplicated.
Rather than the £44 billion we might end up having to pay, we’d have hopefully managed to extricate ourselves for a lot less. Fingers crossed nowhere near the $1.2 billion Bernie Ecclestone handed over to Slavica or the reported $3.8 billion Alec Wildenstein settled on his plastic surgery fanatic wife, Jocelyn. Not wishing to be totally unreasonable, as part of any settlement, we’d have happily thrown in the 68 piece antique porcelain dinner service, the heated hostess trolly, the Teasmade or one of the other gifts we received. Negotiations could then have been settled quickly and we’d have parted as amicable friends, while putting the whole thing down to nothing more than a matrimonial mistake.
So why weren’t we brave enough to get out when we first had the chance? Democracy had a little something to do with it. Admittedly, the 67% who wanted to stay in was high compared to the 51.9% who wanted to leave in the more recent referendum. But it wasn’t so resoundingly high that it couldn’t have been gradually chipped away at. When push came to shove, perhaps we were scared of being alone, finding ourselves ostracised by others and wondering who, if anyone, was out there for us.
Unfortunately, we are where we are and it’s an almost untenable position we find ourselves in. A position that is never going to be sorted to the satisfaction of either party. Both sides believe that they’ve compromised enough already and aren’t prepared to compromise any further. From here on in, the arguments are only going to become more acrimonious and the recriminations more severe, leading to...well, who knows what the eventual repercussions will be.
Sadly, as with all divorces that ultimately turn into embittered wars, it’s the children one must feel the most sorry for. And make no mistake, regardless of our age, we’re all children of Brexit now and we’ll end up carrying the burden of the split for years, if not, decades to come.
It’s therefore little wonder that so many of us appear to be presently reconsidering our decision to leave. In the immortal words of Neil Sedaka: “Instead of breaking up, we wish that we were making up again”.
But in my humble opinion that would be a mistake. Exactly as it was a mistake 43 years ago. If we renew our vows with the EU, nothing will change. Before we know it, we’ll revert to petty squabbling and resenting one another.
We just need to learn a lesson from Richard Burton and the much married Elizabeth Taylor. They notoriously gave it another go and within a year, they were divorced once more. We must not allow the same fate to befall us.