If only Brexit came flat-packed like an IKEA bookcase!


THE DEATH, AT THE GRAND OLD AGE OF 91, of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad should say something about Brexit. Oh, if only the endlessly complicated falling-away-from-the-EU could be assembled like one of those ubiquitous Billy bookcases.

Sadly, the Brexit bookcase seems to be the antithesis of the flatpack Swedish affair, a piece of furniture so commonplace that there are said to be 60m in the world.

The ubiquitous IKEA Billy bookcase

In contrast, there is only one Brexit bookcase: a big elephant-sized affair, lumbering and cumbersome and the cause of endless bickering among the relatives about where it should be put.

Ardent Brexiteers are often heard complaining bitterly that they still aren’t getting things their way. Heavens! If they make this much fuss about winning, just imagine the noise if they’d lost that bloody referendum.

Chief among the complainers is  Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, often to be found stamping his little brogues while teething on the silver spoons in his mouth. It escapes me why the media fawns over this gruesome young fogey, an Edwardian throwback seemingly smuggled into the 21st century through a gnarled loop in time.

Only yesterday, Rees-Mogg was heard to boast that he had never been to Ikea. Well, bully for him; if not Billy for him, as ‘twere.

JR-M, the young fogey who has never been to IKEA

It’s no surprise that Rees-Mogg has never visited one of the giant Swedish warehouses. Firstly, he’s far too rich to need cheap furniture; second, Ikea is far too European for his tastes. And third? Oh, DO shut up, that’s more than enough about JR-M. Like his rival Old Etonian Tory attention-seeker Boris Johnson, he needs no encouragement.

[Incidentally, a BBC Radio 4 trailer the other day began: “Why Boris Johnson. . .” I forget the rest but surely those words were more than sufficient. Why indeed?]

At least we have David Davis looking out for us – where would we be if the Brexit Secretary turned up at the negotiations looking like the sort of bluff chancer you wouldn’t trust to run the raffle at your local golf club? Oh, hang on a minute. . .

As for the Edwardian throwback JR-M, I don’t wish to admit to sharing anything with the man whose full name I am tired of typing but Ikea doesn’t exactly lift my spirits, either. A visit usually starts well enough: I trail along, nodding at this and that with a remarkable simulacrum of enthusiasm only to feel, two pr three hours later, as though I were stuck in the very flat-packed bowels of hell.

Maybe after reading this my wife won’t suggest another visit for a while, perhaps a century or two? Mind you, the famous meat balls are a powerful inducement.

So, as the Tories argue about whether to put Theresa May into one of those handy blue Frakta bags and fly-tip her somewhere out of the way, it strikes me that the role of Ikea in our attitude to Europe has not been explored enough. Why DOES a country that fell bigtime for Ikea find it so hard to love Europe?

That’s a mystery worthy of Wallander – another Swedish import we took to our hearts.


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