Pro-Brexit supporters will now have to wait until January to see if Britain leaves the EU. Picture: NurPhoto WIktor Szymanowicz
Pro-Brexit supporters will now have to wait until January to see if Britain leaves the EU. Picture: NurPhoto WIktor Szymanowicz

In January, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage spoke before the European parliament sporting a tie bearing the phrase "Non Illegitimi Carborundum", which, loosely translated, means "Don’t let the bastards grind you down".

That the phrase is Dog Latin — it has no meaning in real Latin and is in fact a Latin-English pun — says much about the state of the Brexit project.

The real threat is exhaustion. Just get it done, say (some) Remainers who have been ground down by years of lies, fiddling and madness. Everybody is worn out, in both Britain and the Continent, which is what British people used to call Europe.

Yet, faced with more intransigence and sulking from Boris Johnson, who had vowed to take the UK out of Europe with or without a deal by October 31 — a lose-lose outcome — EU leaders pushed out the departure date to January 31 2020.

Only French President Emmanuel Macron opposed the extension, saying the EU had underestimated Johnson and that he had the makings of a great leader. Had Macron fallen into Johnson’s cauldron of Kool-Aid? Or is it something else — a long, deep memory of exhaustion, perhaps?

Every town in France has a memorial to its dead from two world wars. In some places, entire male lineages were wiped out.

In May 1917, having been "ground down" by a pointless offensive in Flanders in which it lost 120,000 men in just two days, the French army mutinied. The British generals, horrified that their ally might sue for peace with Germany, urged the French command to fix it.

And they did. Twenty-three mutineers were shot; another 250 were executed, in graphic fashion, by their own artillery.

A century later, the EU — perhaps the greatest peace treaty in the history of humankind — is threatened by little more than ego, prejudice and ignorance. No surprise, then, at Macron’s willingness to let Britain trudge off into the gloom of its own making.