Brexit Bullldog — a Lament

You will have spotted that things have been a bit tricky for the government recently. The Chequers ambush, resignations, ‘pairing-gate’, the ambush of Theresa May by the ERG (by the way, given that they’re not in any real sense European and don’t seem to benefit from any sensible research, I think we should refuse to call them the European Research Group – it’s like those authoritarian countries that change their name to Democratic Republic of….Pure satire). Then we had Trump thrown in. And football isn’t coming home after all.

But never mind all that, what’s going to happen about Brexit Bulldog? It’s been nearly two weeks, and I am already bereft. For me, Brexit has few upsides. Well, no upsides, actually, but we find our consolations where we can. And, apart from the creation of the New European newspaper, with its joyously random culture pages, the one positive that I’ve been holding onto has been the fabulous characterization of David Davis as the upbeat and hopeless Brexit Bulldog on the hilarious Dead Ringers on Radio 4. Why that show isn’t on prime time television at such a politically turbulent time I really don’t know.

Brexit Bulldog, the Master Negotiator, armed with his Toblerone and a talent for quixotic quests against perfidious Johnny Foreigner, has been a rare shining light for those of us who can see nothing but doom ahead. My whole family, the 10-year-old and the teenager as much as their grandmother, has been rolling about laughing at his adventures.

Last season there was his encounter with Dante’s Inferno, having been sent to hell after blundering his way through negotiations with gangsters and insulting European hoteliers to the extent that they gave him a car with no brakes (“There’s a man here who looks like Michael Gove with horns”; “Tell Boris it’s not as fun as it sounds”; “Oh it seems a bit like my place at the negotiating table in Brussels”).

This year he nearly starved to death as he and his gang followed Wetherspoons’ example (they announced a ban on foreign beer) and tried to survive just on British produce. Just before the real Davis’s resignation, Brexit Bulldog attempted a heist at EU HQ to pay for the Brexit dividend – using Iain Duncan Smith as a decoy, since he has practice bringing things to a standstill with his Universal Credit project. Somewhat presciently, before his real-life counterpart quit the cabinet, Brexit Bulldog drove off a cliff. In another sketch, he moved to Panama to sell erotic amulets: “You’re on your own, PM.” If you are a fan, forgive the recaps, but I find them comforting and consoling. You can at least give me that.

I’m not the only one to be sad. Dead Ringers producer Bill Dare Tweeted: “Touched by the many messages of condolence regarding David David, Brexit Bulldog. We will feel his loss (and predicted it.)”

Brexit Bulldog was one of the rare things that allowed us to laugh at Brexit rather than cry, and it even (whisper it) develop a bit of affection and pity for Davis, which his real-life character does not necessarily inspire. For that, alone, he should be just as upset as we are about the demise of Brexit Bulldog.

The week after he quit, we had “not the Brexit Bulldog” wondering why, having decided to leave the cabinet, he doesn’t still have all the benefits of being in — the show gives us more clarity than the 10 O’Clock News. The other political characters are also great – the wobbly-voiced and desperate Theresa May trapped in a nightmare premiership, the camply gossiping, backstabbing Michael “The Govemeister” Gove, the ridiculous Boris Johnson (but wait, maybe that was the real thing). But I shall be in mourning when I listen to Dead Ringers next time, hoping, waiting, for Brexit Bulldog to re-emerge to once more show us the true face of the bumbling Brexit gang. RIP.

Suna Erdem

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