By Anja Holgersson

Just when you thought the Brexit madness had reached its peak and couldn’t get any weirder – Rhodri Marsden releases his disco concept album “The Hustle: A Brexit Disco Symphony”. Yes, it’s exactly as strange and funky as whatever you are currently imagining. Marsden himself describes the project as “…a sarcastic eulogy for our collective sanity.” Within its first week of existence it made it to #27 on British iTunes. Oh well. Let’s do the Brexit-boogie, here’s the breakdown of all eight songs of the album!

  1. Piece of Cake – The album kicks off with a sample of an interview in 2017 with MP Liam Fox, where he claims that the free trade agreement between UK and the EU will be “one of the easiest in human history”. The song Piece of Cake picks up on the utter absurdity of the situation and the lyrics are just various descriptions of how simple Brexit will be. It’s a satirical work of wonder and it ends with a sick guitar solo accompanied by a soundbite of Boris Johnson admitting that getting a deal actually won’t be easy. What more could you ask for?
  2. Freedom of Movement – Just as the name suggests, the baseline of this song encourages movement. While you’re shaking your tail feathers, consider the freedom of movement. It is an essential part of the EU that gives all citizens of member states the right to work and live in other countries in the Union. On October 14th there was a proposal for a new immigration bill in the Queen’s speech. The bill would both end free movement and create point-based entry system, similar to Australia’s. The song in itself is a disarray of disco, with a ton of horns and the lyrics “You can’t set up home in Budapest or Rome. You think that’s hot? It’s really, really not!”
  3. Let’s Go W.T.O – Brexiteers have set their hopes to the World Trade Organisation, believing that the UK will still be able to have access to EU markets using the W.T.O. Many economics aren’t so hopeful though, and instead believe that this could be detrimental to the British economy. Already, UK exports have taken a blow, and there is a risk of higher EU tariffs looming ahead. Anyway, is there any smooth way of creating a W.T.O-version of the YMCA-dance?
  4. Backstop – Backstop immediately brings thoughts to the classic disco track Street Life by Randy Crawford, but of course, with a massive Brexit spin. The sample section in the song when various politicians just repeat the word “backstop” over and over feels like a fair representation of the news for the last few years, seeing as it is discussed so often. The backstop concerns the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Being the only physical border between the UK and EU, and considering its violent history, deciding on customs agreements and border controls is vital. The most recent solution, presented in early October refuses a hard border, instead allowing Northern Ireland a four year period of remaining in the single market for agriculture and industrial goods. This would limit the risk of breaking the Good Friday Agreement and escalating the animosity of the neighbouring states. At the end of this period Northern Ireland would be able to decide for themselves whether to continue a similar arrangement or not. Many seem to cautiously approve of this scheme. However, the DUP (Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party) disapproves, and that causes some real issues for Boris Johnson. Considering that Johnson has a minority government, he might just need the votes of the DUP in order for his deal to pass.
  5. Canada Plus – Canada plus is a nickname for the free trade agreement between the UK and Canada. However, somewhere in the Brexit madness politicians just started adding pluses, meaning that the latest version of an agreement from the European Union unofficially goes by the name of the “Canada plus plus plus” agreement. Canada plus is easily the grooviest song on the entire album, with suave vocals and sensual whispers of “Plus! Plus!”. Also, it ends in a crescendo that is so dramatic it ironically makes me think of Eurovision.
  6. Alternative Arrangements – “Nobody knows what they are but that’s okaaaaaay…!” You’ll find me in the closest discotheque crooning the lyrics of “Alternative Arrangements” on the 31st of October. The song refers to Boris Johnson’s hope of finding an alternative solution to the previously mentioned backstop. Although, a leaked report in September says there is no deliverable alternative to the backstop, meaning that the whole thing is a bit of a fairytale. Who’s surprised?
  7. No Deal – The alternatives to reaching an agreement with the EU would be either to ask for more time to negotiate or to exit without any deal. Seeing as Boris Johnson has famously said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than to ask for an extension, earlier it looked as though he would prefer a no deal. In September however, MPs passed a law, the “Benn Act”, essentially forcing Johnson to ask for a delay unless MPs can approve on a deal. Seeing as Boris Johnson has promised to exit on the 31st, not following through on his promise might affect his support in the likely upcoming general election. A no deal could potentially be very destructive to the UK. In the previously leaked document “Operation Yellowhammer”, there is a list of “reasonable worst-case assumptions” in the case of a no deal. They include disastrous details of delays in customs, shorter supplies of certain foods and also a lack of certain medicines. “No Deal” as a song is slightly less upbeat than the rest and more mellow, maybe rightly so considering its potential consequences.
  8. Hard Is Better – While the title is suggestive and the song upbeat, reality of the matter is quite different, as is often the case in all things Brexit. Earlier there has been a lot of talk of a “soft Brexit” versus a “hard Brexit”. A soft Brexit would result in close cooperation with the EU without being a member, similar to Norway’s relationship with the EU. Critics argue this would make the UK subordinate to the will of the EU. A hard Brexit instead would in theory lead to more regulation and global free-trade deals, causing many to say that “Hard is Better!”.

The Hustle definitely delivers on its promise to “go out in style”, let’s see if the United Kingdom manages to do the same. You can find the album at https://article54.eu/ or on Spotify.

Cover photo: UK Parliament

Anja Holgersson is studying the bachelor program in Peace and Development studies. She’s a Brexit-remainer, funk fanatic and cinnamon bun connoisseur.

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