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Brexit Derangement Syndrome in the Nude

An Anti-Brexit demonstrator stands outside the Houses of Parliament in London, England, January 8, 2019. (Henry Nicholls/REUTERS)

Every person interested in Brexit derangement syndrome has spent recent days becoming acquainted with one of the finest specimens of this malady to date. A Cambridge academic called Dr. Victoria Bateman has just become famous in the U.K. because of a lecture she delivered in January that has just gone big online. The lecture wasn’t in the Cambridge University economics department where Dr. Bateman can usually be found, but at a live music venue in the city.

There, Bateman delivered an hour-long lecture about how awful Brexit was, including some remarkably unoriginal claims such as that the whole Brexit process is really like the Wizard of Oz and in particular the Yellow Brick Road. What made these otherwise un-insightful remarks get some attention was that the whole thing was delivered naked. Yes, Dr. Bateman delivered the lecture as naked as the day she was born, except with the words written on her naked body in marker pen: “Brexit” (top of chest) “leaves” (right breast) “Britain” (left breast) and “naked” (roughly on the stomach area). Those of a strong and bored disposition can see the whole performance here

It turns out that Dr. Bateman has been at this for some time, though has only just now really gotten the attention she has obviously long wanted. After the referendum in 2016, Bateman reportedly turned up to a Cambridge University economics faculty meeting similarly naked and with the same words scrawled on her body. On that occasion around 30 economists had gathered to discuss teaching materials and courses. Perhaps unwittingly, Dr. Bateman produced one of the most British moments of all time. As the Telegraph reported back then:

‘Ms Bateman, a lecturer has researched the development of the European economy, sat at the two-hour meeting without anyone mentioning her nudity they just went on with a normal meeting about tripos and marking.

‘Nigel Knight, director of studies at Churchill College and the chair of the meeting, glanced at her and then said to his secretary: “I think we need some cups for the coffee” and everyone else just stared straight ahead.’ 

Since achieving some online fame, Dr. Bateman was also this week invited into the studios of BBC Radio 4 where she stripped naked in an interview with veteran presenter John Humphreys. Ordinarily stripping off naked on the radio would be as meaningful as protesting as deliberately smelling bad on television. But cameras caught the scene in the radio studio where, among other things, a naked Dr. Bateman challenged the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg to a naked debate about Brexit. While she laid down this unlikely challenge both her interviewer and his colleague appear to have looked at their interviewee a lot less than they normally would, and seemed to have found the screens in front of them uncommonly interesting.

Anyhow — Bateman has succeeded in making more people look at her, and perhaps a few more people will even have listened to her. But her sudden rise to fame is really explained by something else. There seems no end to the rage of those still campaigning against the public’s vote of 2016. But for the public themselves, almost nothing could better typify the derangement of a considerable portion of our elite than a Cambridge University academic haranguing people while naked and imagining that the public see her as anything more than a very British loon.

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