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Brexit-on-the-Lyne; Between a Granite and a Hard Place


Wednesday 1 August; to Peebles


Posterboy ‘May be yes, May be no’ Ben declared, at his latest photo opp at the Charwood Grill, “I am absolutely clear that we do not know where we’re going. We have no final destination and no plan of how to get there.”


“But PM” interjected John Jacob Moggy Nosewipe (to give him his full name), “we know we are going to take back control of our riding guidelines. No more petty regulations about riding in straight lines from pettifogging, unelected bureaucrats in Orchard House.” Fearing that R M was going to get into top gear, ex-Attorney General, Jude the Guid interrupted’ “Nanny here Moggy, remember regulations are here to protect us and keep us safe.”


“Enough already, the riders have spoken, we must fulfil the wishes of the majority of those who bothered to vote, and head off into God knows where. A CTC ride means a CTC ride and we want to have our cake and eat it,” we all chorused together.


Michel Barnstormer provided the first test of Brexit Secretary David ‘Red Card’ Lambie’s negotiating position when he explained to him at Loanhead, that a ‘Road Closed’ sign meant this was a red line which the EU would not let us cross. Red Card was non-plussed, “but we wanted to come this way.” The Scottish Government delegation, led by the Cabinet Secretary for Thwarting the UK Government at Every Turn, Ian Buchan, proved a little more nimble in finding a detour round this road block.


Negotiations on a Brexit deal continued to face head winds at every turn, especially across Auchencorth Moss. But with Posterboy ‘May’ breaking us up into small teams, he was able to report to Parliament, at an away day outside the public toilets in West Linton, good progress on reaching a divorce settlement. Slogans on buses would now read “Minus £350m per week for the next 5 years.”


“Is this a hard border or a technologically assisted border?” piped up Yvonne the Stowaway as we crossed from Midlothian into the Scottish Borders. Being from Northern Ireland she would have an interest in such matters. “We need some regulatory alignment of custom and practice while riding. We don’t want to breach the Good Friday Agreement established with the Picts after the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685.” Having said this she promptly disappeared.


“Oh, this is far too soft a Brexit” the hard Brexiteers among the riders complained as we tootled along the Lyne in the drizzle, enjoying the view, and the river, and nature all around us. “We’re looking forward to the Granites; hard, hard stuff, where our true CTC character of grit, determination and enjoyment of austerity will shine forth and we will prove ourselves worthy of our forefathers in Harrogate who founded the CTC 140 years ago.”


Lunch was taken in the pretty Peebleshire town of, wait for it, Peebles, where those Leavers among us still suffering from post-colonial delusions had colonised a children’s play park for our exclusive use. Visit Scotland, Or Anywhere rep, Cathy ‘Smiley’ Riley and International Secretary for Finding Somebody, AnyBody Who Might Do A Deal With Us, Senga enjoyed a working lunch discussing the prospects of a trade delegation to Japan. This working lunch appeared to continue into a working tea, but it is not clear whether it continued all afternoon.


Our negotiating position and skills were further tested as we tried to scale the granite face presented by the EU, without any idea whether we wanted a hard or soft Brexit or just wanted to jump off the cliff. Health Secretary, Rachel Ferguson, decided to strike out on her own. She wanted to find out, in the likelihood of a No Deal scenario, whether there was a pot of medicines under a rainbow somewhere. Evidence soon mounted up that this was not going to happen, so she returned to the true Brexit path of scaling granite walls in the face of all evidence that this is a hard grind and there are no sunny uplands. Once you get to the top, you have to descend.


There were however four convinced Leavers, who thought the only answer lay in racing to the top in order to reach the promised land that much sooner. They obviously thought that ‘May be’s’ latest plan was like, as the colourful phrase has it, ‘polishing a turd’ and they would rather go off and chase unicorns.


The Remainers made their dubious way up the granite wall, hoping against hope that something might turn up. Would those who always hug the left of the road gain some momentum and start throwing their weight around? Would ‘May be’ do a Duke of York and, having led us all to the top of the hill, lead us down again? Or would the Scots think, ‘enough of all this, we’re out of here?’


Given the small number who gathered at Dolly’s to have their cake and eat it, it looked like there was a majority for the option of ‘we’re out of here’. Many of them were quite wet. But those who gathered to discuss the day’s events thought away-days of this sort were a worthwhile exercise. At least one had a plan for a couple of days, even if it did need polishing.