There’s a classic structure common to many science-fiction or fantasy trilogies, which is perhaps epitomised by the original Star Wars trilogy.
In the first installment, the protagonists are introduced and win a stunning victory over their adversaries against overwhelming odds. There is much rejoicing. In Star Wars terms, Luke and Han rescue Leia and blow up the Death Star.
In the second, the adversary is revealed to have not been as badly beaten as all that. Demonstrating strengths and capabilities unrevealed in the first installment, they largely reverse the gains made and put the protagonists under serious pressure on all fronts. By the end, the situation appears more dire than when the series started. The rebels are driven from Hoth, Han is cryogenically frozen and Luke gets his hand cut off.
In the third installment, starting from an extreme low, the protagonists once again struggle and triumph against overwhelming odds, this time securing a final victory. Some elements of the original installment may be recapitulated in different form. There is much rejoicing. Luke and Leia rescue Han and blow up the second Death Star and Luke redeems Vader who kills the Emperor.
Real life is rarely so neat. Unless you’re Tim Shipman.
When Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, set out to write his best-selling account of the Brexit referendum, All Out War, I doubt he expected to write a trilogy, let alone that fate would hand him the perfect plot arc. The book itself is a masterpiece, richly informed by the detailed access to key figures he was granted and with the narrative arranged compellingly to reveal the twists and turns of what is, after all, the preeminent political drama of our time. Shipman himself, I believe (though am not 100% sure) voted Remain, but it would be very difficult to deduce his own political leanings from the text.
The second installment, Fallout, is equally well researched and written, though it must be said, somewhat more depressing. For one thing, no one really wins, no-one reveals themselves to be another main character’s father (or mother) and it turns out that watching Shipman methodically take apart the seven fundamental mistakes made by the Conservative 2017 campaign is less visually satisfying than watching AT-AT Walkers annihilate the base on Hoth, even if the end result is the same. More asteroid worms next time please.
That, however, should take nothing away from anticipation of the final, gripping, installment of the trilogy. From the turbulence of the ‘meaningful votes’ to the prorogation drama, an insurgent campaign for a ‘People’s Vote’ and not forgetting the firm fan favourites of The Independent Group of Ewocs for Change, Shipman promises us a rollercoaster ride, taking us from the nadir of Tory defeat in the European elections to the triumphant revelation of the exit poll on December 12th, the moment that, at long last, Got Brexit Done.
Amazon declares that the title of the final volume will be revealed on 25th June. May I humbly suggest to Mr Shipman that he consider calling it The Return of the Johnson?
N.B. This post is written without the endorsement or knowledge of Tim Shipman.