Brexit hits the fan

Brexit discussions, if they can be graced with that seemingly decent description, are hitting the fan. And the people who have precipitated this are none other than the British Prime Minister and the British Foreign Secretary. One must ask what on earth, or, perhaps more appropriately, what in the hell are they doing? Do they think the EU will disappear in a puff of smoke when Britain Brexits? Shame at the stupidity of dragging Britain back a century turns to disgust at putting the country in the position of blame-thrower for a self-inflicted wound. That wound is turning septic.

You probably know but just to recap, in a nutshell, Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt – who appeared sensible when he came to Singapore recently – have both made speeches at this eleventh hour of negotiation saying ‘any problems caused by Brexit are the fault of the EU; any problems post Brexit are the EU’s doing’. Charming. Britain has got to live with Europe long after the names May and Hunt have bitten the dust. If the idiocy of Brexit is ever to work relations must endure.

The secretive, entrenched way in which the Prime Minister has conducted the negotiations has failed because of a complete misunderstanding of how today’s communications work. There were two ways to handle a Brexit negotiation. One was the five day, closed door, very tough top people negotiation with a compromise agreed and stuck to thereafter. Possible if you locked them up and deprived them of food and water until the agreement was reached. Probably against all the human rights laws we so ardently cherish. It can still be done and occasionally is.

The other way was to have a completely open, transparent public media negotiation for three months followed by a proposal on which the British took a vote, whether Referendum or, better, General Election. This transparent route is how to educate the electorate on what they are about to decide. In the event, neither way has been used. A drawn-out, leaky, stubborn and increasingly acrimonious to-ing and fro-ing has led to a poisoned relationship to start Brexit.

Where on earth have these people learnt their negotiating skills? Who ever briefed them on the problems of Brexit before they started the hare of a referendum? If this is how Britain is to conduct itself from now on it should link up with Venezuela. At least it will learn how to fire a gun. And how to block the arrival of food aid which looks increasingly likely to be needed post Brexit.

The grey mood of discontent that has permeated the Brexit discussions has turned to black. Theresa May is down a hole from which there is no exit. The top diplomat has burnt his bridges for post-Brexit relations with Europe to the point where members of the EU simply won’t listen to him. The sky may not reflect war clouds but they reflect today’s equivalent, ostracization. That is not what Brexit was meant to be about. It is not what avoids the queues of traffic to and from the Continent. It is what causes dissent, bad feeling and confusion.

In 1952 the headline in the evening paper said “Thick fog in Channel”. The sub editor underlined it by adding “Continent isolated”.

Well Britain certainly is isolated now.

Brexit discussions have hit the fan.

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