brexit limbo
Democracy

Brexit is in limbo: a nation is bored

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has refused to accept any blame for the current Brexit impasse: the “original sin” lies with the UK, he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to accept any blame for the current Brexit impasse: the EU (Withdrawal Agreement ) Bill is “in limbo”, the Speaker announced to Parliament. “That is the technical term, advised to me by the Clerks. I refer Members to the ruling of the Chair on 10 July 2012 and to paragraph 28.58 of ‘Erskine May’.”

This activated the most faithful Roman Catholic Speaker of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg:

I was fascinated to hear that the Bill was in limbo. Theologically speaking, it is reported that Pope Benedict XVI abolished limbo. I wonder whether the Bill is not in the heaven that is having been passed, or in the hell of having failed, but in purgatory, where it ​is suffering the pains of those in purgatory. [Interruption.] Original sin is beyond the immediate competence of my answer on this statement.

..The key thing to remember about limbo is that to enter it, one cannot still be alive, and therefore the Bill is no longer a live Bill.

Margaret Beckett intervened righteously: “..on the question of limbo, I rather thought one had to be pure of soul to get in, so not many people are going to end up there.” To which the Leader of the House responded with further theological exposition:

I think the original understanding of limbo—one that is no longer widely accepted—is that it was a place for the souls of the unbaptised and for those who died before salvation was brought to us at the point of the Resurrection, but I think the understanding now is that that is rather a narrow interpretation.

Sensing an unparliamentary assertion of infallibility in this Protestant Realm in which the Pope of Rome hath no jurisdiction, Sir Desmond Swayne interjected: “I hate to be a pedant, but my recollection is that the souls of the upright and pure who preceded salvation actually ended up in Dante’s first circle. The events of this evening prove to us that we are all much further down in hell already.”

To which Jacob Rees-Mogg responded, infallibly: “I am reluctant to quibble with my right hon. Friend, but Dante cannot always be relied on for the theology of the Catholic Church.”

Semper Eadem.

All this political-metaphysical perplexity was beyond Clive Efford:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek clarification of what the term “limbo” means. The Leader of the House has told us that the Bill is dead, and from that we read that it cannot be resurrected in any way for a future business statement to send it into Committee so that the House can deal with it. Can you clarify that for us?

Speaker Bercow expounded:

If I may say so, the accurate characterisation is that the Bill is not dead, but it is inert. It is not on a journey. It is not progressing or moving from one place to another. It is inert, or alternatively it might be said to be static, but it is not a corpse. Is that adequate for the hon. Gentleman?

​”Splendid,” responded Clive Efford.

Not so splendid, the people sighed, incredulous at the maimed rites spouted by this suicidal parliament. And so a nation waits in political purgatory, a temporal prison-house, bathed in fiery floods or thick-ribbed ice, not remotely inclined to pray for the restless souls of MPs, alive or dead.

Brexit is limbo, and so are we all, roasting and sizzling in sulphur, pricked and tormented, molested to the bone; limbus patrum, until the foul crimes done in this parliament’s days of nature are burnt and purged away.