We asked two comedians on opposing sides of the EU Referendum debate to duke it out over the future of the nation. Here’s Andy Zaltzman’s take:
Time being the uncompromisingly stubborn one-trick pony that it is, 23rd June will soon be amongst us. A day when the nation will awake, sniff the air, and say to itself: “I love the smell of referendums in the morning.”
As a lifelong democracy fan, I have been doing all my usual preparations before for a big vote. Pencil gripping, X-writing, and making a binary decision about an issue of infinite complexity, are all crucial polling-station skills that can crumble under the pressure of the ballot box. I have put in the hours in my practice voting-booth at home, as well as running numerous computer simulations of what will happen after Britain stays or leaves the EU (most resulted in a war with Ecuador, which may have been caused by a software glitch).
“I am quite lazy and Brexiteering seems like it would involve paperwork”
In the end, I have decide to vote to stay in the EU, partly out of affection for a grand old continent that could do with a bit of TLC, partly because I am quite lazy and Brexiteering seems like it would involve a tedious amount of admin and paperwork, and partly because leaving the EU would be, in the words of pro-celebrity Prime Minister David Cameron, “a leap in the dark”, whilst staying in the EU would only be a leap in the slightly-less-dark. And a leap which, having been leapt, could be rather more easily un-leapt in a few decades’ time.
Perhaps the decisive influence on my decision, however, has been the date of the referendum. The government, no doubt cynically, chose a deeply emotive anniversary for the EU megavote – precisely 355 years to the day since the signing of the marriage contract between British King Charles II, and Europe-based top-quality princess Catherine of Braganza.
He was a keen wig-wearer, party animal, and champion adulterer. She was a huge God fan with an impressive collection of priests. It was a match made in 17th-century monarchy heaven.
“Trouserial ‘trade deals'”
It was also a Brito-European alliance that endured until death did them part. And it was the kind of Brito-European alliance that the government wishes to inspire people to support – the British part of it spent much of the time checking out the alternatives, and indeed conducting some extremely intimate trouserial ‘trade deals’ with other interested parties. The European side of the partnership learned to put up with what was a far from ideal situation. Clearly, in a subliminal way, the government is encouraging us to believe that this is the kind of relationship we can expect, demand and enjoy if we stay in the EU.
Admittedly, the marriage ended childless, provoking a rather stroppy and somewhat chaotic aftermath, but, for a long time, Mr Britain and Ms Europe found a way of co-existing, a little awkwardly, for the greater good of all concerned. The Brexit campaign must be worried. If this stirring anniversary does not catapult at least 98% of the nation to the ballot box with a ‘BrStayInTheEU’ pencil in their hands, nothing will.
Andy Zaltzman will perform ‘Political Animal‘ at London’s Udderbelly Festival on June 21 (EU referendum special) and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, alongside his new show ‘Plan Z‘ (both at The Stand) throughout August.