“Brexit” by Joseph Heller

Image result for catch-22
US Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Hayden K. Hyatt

This unpublished work, believed to be a sequel to Joseph Heller’s great satirical novel Catch-22, was recently found in the late author’s papers. It is recreated here with permission of absolutely nobody.

“It’s simple,” said Doc Daneeka. “Corbyn says if they want to have meaningful discussions about where we go from here, they simply have to rule out a no-deal Brexit.”

“That’s it?” asked Yossarian. “They can just rule it out, and we’re all fine?”

“They sure can. They just have to rule it out, and we can have cross-party talks.”

“That’s all they have to do to avoid food shortages and 40-mile lorry tailbacks in Kent?” said Yossarian. “They just have to rule out a no-deal Brexit, and we can start putting together a plan B?”

“No,” said Daneeka. “Then we can’t start putting together a plan B.”

“You mean there’s a catch?”

“Sure there’s a catch. Catch-22. In order to have cross-party discussions, they need to rule out a no-deal Brexit. But to rule out no-deal Brexit, there need to be cross-party discussions.”

There was only one catch, and it was Catch-22. It specified that no-deal Brexit was a catastrophe, and had to be ruled out before any meaningful discussions could be had. But the only way of ruling out no-deal Brexit was to have meaningful discussions. A cross-party agreement on a deal, or a promise to revoke Article 50, were the only way to rule out No Deal and were possible through cross-party discussions; but cross-party discussions were not possible until No Deal had been ruled out.

Yossarian, deeply moved by the awesome simplicity of this clause, exhaled; a long, low, whistling noise. “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed. It had a beauty about it: the two halves of its construction matched each other perfectly. There was no way in, no cracks in its surface. It flitted in and out of his understanding, like a trick painting that looked sometimes like an old crone and sometimes like a young woman.

“It’s the best there is,” Daneeka agreed.

Yossarian walked to the mess. Lt Milo Minderbinder grabbed him by the shoulder. “May’s offering negotiations!” he said, happily. This surprised Yossarian. “I thought she wouldn’t budge?”

“Sure she’ll budge!” said Milo, beaming. “She just says that the opposition have to agree to all her red lines, and she’ll discuss anything they want!”


“It’s very simple. If everyone agrees that we won’t extend Article 50, enter a customs union, stay in the Single Market, or introduce any legislation that would prevent No Deal, then May is prepared to be flexible!”

“But those are the only things that anyone else wants,” Yossarian pointed out.

“Well, sure, but they just have to be flexible about that.” It was Catch-22 again, Yossarian was sure.

At the hospital, Yossarian bumped into Clevinger, the CID man.

“They’re trying to kill me!” Yossarian told him, calmly.

“No one’s trying to kill you,” Clevinger replied, furiously. The last time they had met, Yossarian had said the same thing, and Clevinger had told him he was crazy.

“Then why are they stopping my medicine supply?” Yossarian asked.

“They’re stopping *everyone’s* medicine supply,” Clevinger cried. “They’re trying to kill *everyone*.”

Yossarian looked at him. “What difference does that make?”

“Who’s ‘they’?” Clevinger persisted. “Who specifically do you think is trying to kill you?”

“All of them,” said Yossarian. “Every single one of them.”

“Every one of who?

“Who do you think?”

“I don’t know!” Clevinger yelled.

“Then how do you know they’re not?”

Clevinger went purple with rage and frustration. He really thought he was right, but Yossarian knew he was wrong, because every day strangers he didn’t know were trying to break the agreements which got him insulin for his diabetes and food for his table, and it wasn’t funny at all.

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