BThe wounds of rexit are always bleeding. The UK can not "return to normal" regardless of whether a deal has been closed or not. Normal in Britain is now a civil war without bloodshed. The belligerent parties can not sign a peace treaty and pretend that the rational Britain of the national myth continues as it has done so far. The country is dead and gone, but vociferously our prime minister is trying to repay his guilt by promising to "bring the country together".
The language of war was the language of Brexit. The rights raids the dressing box for the uniforms of the Battle of Britain. The Prime Minister condemns half of the population as Quisling, who advocates betrayal and surrender. Dominic Cummings' hero Bismarck led three wars to unite Germany. Cummings talks as if he's ready to trigger one to break Britain. The paranoid fear of internal enemies, once confined to the right-wing and far-right policies, now defines British conservatism.
Call the Conservatives far right and you have to expect a howl. "You can not compare the Brexit referendum with Trump's election," they explain. "One can not say that it is racist to worry about immigration." "One can not say that Farage and Johnson are extremists."
Despite all the censored cries, the conservatives believed in a small government, the avoidance of ideological intoxication and of tradition. Now they do not do it. In 2005, the authentic National Socialist British party was standing on a manifesto stating that nothing should stop us from leaving the EU. Britain must "maintain sovereign physical control of its borders" and anything that prevents us from regaining control is the lies of the "political and liberal media elite". Yesterday's BNP manifesto is today's conservative party platform.
As Paul Stocker says in his Brexit story and the mainstreaming of extremism, the wider world view of the right is the new consensus. The "nation" is the alpha and omega in politics. Foreigners, whether migrants or EU leaders, are the scapegoats for any failure. The "people" are no longer composed of all their fellow citizens. Membership is restricted to those who abandon nationalist politics. In the meantime, all you have to do is listen to Johnson to know that the paranoid style of the far right has become a conservative style. The standard position of their politicians and journalists is to cause chaos by representing the parliament, the judiciary and the civil service as sinister forces conspiring against their own country.
Clichés about riding tigers, geniuses and bottles and Pandora and her box are unfortunately inevitable. The snobs will not be able to control the mob they have unleashed, even if they want to. Johnson says he is a "liberal conservative." But the voters he needs and the only ones he's likely to get are anything but. He must address or lose her. Brexit certainly did not mean the Brexit of millions who voted in favor. Any study of their attitudes highlights the majority participation in Brexit as a bond with opposition to multiculturalism, far-flung feminism and immigration. The leaders of Brexit have prepared them to consider all obstacles as elite conspiracies. If they tell them to calm down, they will not be noticed. In their ruthlessness, the right-wing leaders have rejected the ability to instruct their supporters to respect the rule of law and parliamentary democracy.
Almost every day, Nigel Farage explains why the Brexit war can never end. Look at his speeches and you'll see how Farage Johnson treats like a dominatrix who treats a submissive person. He strokes him first and calls him "Boris". He praises the "élan and optimism" that Johnson has brought to Downing Street. He agrees to Johnson's promise to complete Brexit by October 31, and simulates when Johnson says he'd rather "die in a ditch" than break his word. And then comes the promise of pain. Already "half to three quarters of Tory MPs" are traitors in Farage's eyes. If Johnson joins them, if he "marches people to the top of the hill" and brings them back by refusing to allow a Brexit without an agreement, Farage will crack the whip and his party will split the Tory vote.
I look for my fellow citizens and see no simple way to national reconciliation on our side. They (we) know that a majority now supports their whereabouts in the EU. They (we) believe that Brexit is also a serious attack on national interest and a blatant distraction that aggravates our old problems and brings new problems. Whatever happens, they (we) will turn the Liberal Party into a pro-European campaign group and Labor will do the same if we get the chance. Any loss of jobs and closure of businesses, any university without a teacher, and any hospital or nursing home where employees have been fired, will fall prey to Brexit scams. And they (we) will say, "You never promised people that."
Whatever you think of the case of Remain, you should accept that the advocates of Brexit have never made the tough decisions out of stupidity and mendacity. Either we protect the economy by complying with the EU rules we do not have a say in (in which case, why do we go?), Or we suffer a hard exit (which will hurt like hell). This election will never stop as long as the EU exists as a legislative body.
Advocates of Brexit can defend themselves against telling the truth about the pain they said he would never come up with by creating enemies and denouncing the betrayal. If they convince enough that the country is at war, they can reject wishful thinking and the direct lies they considered irrelevant. In wartime, we expect the civilian population to bear part of the suffering. Only fifth columnists undermine the morality of the people by saying that the victims are themselves in debt. From the right-wing point of view, war without end of career is preferable to ending its responsibility.
• Nick Cohen is an Observer columnist