One is a reality TV show on a small island featuring strange bedfellows, squabbling, mass dumping, tribal loyalties and its own unique lingo. The other is called Love Island.
The latest series of Love Island captured the interest of 3.4 million people across the UK. Meanwhile approximately another 3 million have either emigrated or died of boredom as a result of the Brexit debate (please note this is fake news). Nevertheless, there are some common themes.
1. It’s hot
Let’s start with an obvious one. Love Island just wouldn’t be the same if it was a bunch of people huddled up around a campsite in the arctic. Just think how many gratuitous shots of bikini thongs or flexing abs we’d miss out on. Brexit is also heated. It’s a tricky, sweaty, situation for a government tasked with uniting a “divided” country and negotiating the future relationship with the EU, not helped when various campaigning factions fan the flames by insisting that their interpretation of the referendum result is the only way forward. The only way to cool down the debate is to have an open public consultation process on the proposed direction of travel so that it’s not just those shouting the loudest who are heard.
2. Tribes, tests and teamwork
Anyone who hasn’t watched Love Island always asks: What’s the point? Are these sexy 20-somethings put into a glamorous villa solely to flirt and fornicate on live TV in order to win the cash? Having tuned into the programme for the last few weeks, I was surprised to learn it’s more nuanced than that. The idea isn’t that the most passionate, sexually-charged couple wins; in order to survive Early in the series, awkward Dr Alex and Samira survived as a “friendship couple” because they were open about their platonic feelings for each other. The same pragmatism applies to Brexit. Beyond the polarised factions which exist to either drive forward the Brexit they want to see, or reverse the process altogether, most people understand that we all have to live together as companions, on this small island we call Britain. Which is why Brexit must be a compromise.
3. Mass dumping, and new arrivals
Islanders reach their expiry date on the show when they are voted off, and there’s a revolving door of spangly new hotties who enter the villa. Same goes for our politicians on Brexit (minus the spangly hottie bit). As a result of the government’s Chequers plan - a notable compromise between the calls from the “hard Brexiteers” who want to remove the UK from the single market and the customs union, and from others who want to have a continued trading relationship with the EU – a number of politicians pulled their own ejector seat cords, including Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. With the most inflexible politicians out of the mix, it’s time to move beyond personality politics.
4. The lingo
The turns of phrase used by contestants on Love Island have become its hallmark. Grafting means working to impress someone, cracking on is all about proceeding with a love interest, and getting mugged off is feeling undervalued by others. Brexit needs just as much translation. In case you missed it, the term single market refers to a group of countries (EU members and a few others) who agree to allow free movement, goods, services and capital between them, while customs union is an arrangement between countries who do not charge tariffs on imports or exports with each other. The European Economic Area (EEA) is a group of countries who aren’t members of the EU but participate in the single market and follow its rules. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a free trade area which means for all non-agricultural goods.
5. Strong and stable wins the race
Consistent favourites since the earliest episodes of the show and this year’s winning couple is stationery salesman Jack and actor’s daughter Dani Dyer, who were matched on day one and have been unaffected by sexy new arrivals or lie detector challenges. They’re strong, and they’re stable, because they went through the journey together, and shaped their own terms for their relationship. The “strong and stable” Brexit once championed by the Prime Minister failed because it was a political vision imposed from top-down. Love Island might be done for another year but Brexit will keep going, so if we don’t start having a more open conversation, we’ll have to live with the consequences of a divided country, embittered politics... and citizens who feel mugged off.