One of the biggest surprises to emerge from Brexit is the discovery that Conservative right-wingers are all Eagles fans. We know this because they invoked the band’s best-known song, Hotel California, in order to complain that customs and trade deals with the EU would still leave the UK liable to some control by Brussels.
“So, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” said one of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s headbangers, the former Brexit minister David Jones, quoting Hotel California’s most famous line while resisting the temptation to break into song.
Since we might now be heading towards if not a soft Brexit then at least a soft-rock Brexit, here is a guide to other Eagles tracks that are likely to feature in the Brexit playlist.
Take It To The Limit. This was not one of the records Theresa May selected for her Desert Island Discs appearance in 2014. Interestingly, among the predictable choices of classical music by Mozart and others there was no British pop record. Dancing Queen by EU member Sweden’s finest export, Abba, was her only choice from the singles charts. Since then, some have wondered if that gave away her true position on Brexit. Is she really a Europhile at heart? But now May seems to have The Eagles’ Take It To The Limit on repeat, although the song has been renamed Kicking The Can Down The Road because of her repeatedly deferred Brexit decisions, despite the
29 March 2019 date for leaving the EU looming ever closer, in order to prevent open warfare between Tory Brexiteers and Remainers.
Desperado. David Davis, who is becoming as long-winded as his title of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union while managing to say nothing of substance, is the undisputed desperado of the cabinet. The Eagles’ second most popular song, according to Rolling Stone magazine, neatly reflects Davis’s current position. With a well-leaked fanfare he recently threatened to resign only to be bought off by May with a non-concession. A former SAS Territorial, he is, according to a tweet by Conservative Brexiteer MP Nadine Dorries, “trained to take people out”. Whether Rambo Davis gets so desperate that he takes out May or his nemesis, Chancellor Philip Hammond, remains to be seen.
Lyin’ Eyes could have been written about the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whose problem with the truth is legendary. “You can’t hide your lying’ eyes, and your smile is a thin disguise,” sang the Eagles about beautiful women they saw in an LA bar, but it also accurately describes smiling, dissembling Boris, whether he’s telling the porky about £350 million extra a week for the NHS post-Brexit, or as London mayor promising to eradicate rough sleeping by 2012. It doubled under his leadership.
The Last Resort is the Eagles’ great eco-song about screwing up paradise, which is what a lot of people fear will happen in the UK without EU directives on pollution and wildlife conservation. But the title also echoes the threat by Conservative Brexiteers to unseat May and install a Boris, a Jacob or a Gove if they don’t get their preferred clean break from Europe, no matter what the economic costs to Britain. That could be sooner rather than later.
Roger Ratcliffe has worked as an investigative journalist with the Sunday Times Insight team and is the author of guidebooks to Leeds and Bradford. Follow him onTwitter @Ratcliffe
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