It apparently came from a remark by the rock legend, keyboard player Billy Preston overheard by rock legend Stephen Stills who turned it into a legendary 1970 hit – If You Can’t Be with the One You Love, Love the One You’re With.
A tolerable philosophy for the short-terms loves of a rock n’ roll hero on the road, perhaps, but a harder sell when it comes to the long-term effects of the new political and economic project called Brexit, the British exit from the European Union.
British Prime Minister Teresa May came up with a Brexit formula she called “the Chequers Agreement,” after the Prime Minister’s summer estate. But it turns out, there are too many people who can’t agree to it. The “hard Brexit” wing of May’s own Conservative Party hates it because they say it keeps too many links to the EU. The EU rejected much of it and demanded concessions the hard Brexiteers hate even more.
They say Brexit without any deal is better than what they consider a bad Brexit deal, and threaten to torpedo anything even Chequers-light in Parliament. Meanwhile, a growing number of Brits are worried that the whole Brexit idea is a bad deal and they want a second referendum vote to call it off.
Prime Minister May asks her critics to be “reasonable.” All negotiations, she reminds us, demand compromises and hers, she says, may not produce everything the No Dealers are demanding, but it will, on balance, work. If you can’t be with the Brexit you love, she advises, love the one we’re offering you.
As usual, Mrs. May’s message has gotten muddled. Last Sunday, her Chancellor of the Exchequer added a big “or else.” Phillip Hammond proposed a budget that will end austerity and spread benefits across Britain, but then added, without a negotiated Brexit, or worse, with a No Deal/Hard Brexit, all bets are off.
Immediately there was a public rendition of that mooing, grumbling sound British Parliamentarians are heard to make in the House when they are troubled. And the next day, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson issued a correction. That blue skies budget with all its public spending is going to be fulfilled whether Brexit, hard, soft or scrambled, is approved.
People worried about the end result of the Brexit negotiations wondered whether the proper response to that promise was to laugh or cry.
Gregory Katz covered the murder of John Lennon for Rolling Stone, won a Pulitzer Prize for overseas reporting for the Dallas Morning News and is now the bureau chief for the Associated Press in London, a city he has lived in and covered for more than a decade.