recentpopularlog in


« earlier   
While Johnson plays games, the EU is preparing for life without us | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian
There is no reason why Merkel or Macron should fashion a deal to the specifications of a Tory campaign. While Downing Street is thinking about clap lines for a speech, the EU wants legal guarantees that can withstand future changes in the political weather. The two sides are not operating to the same time horizon. Both say they want a deal, but Johnson means a headline to get through the week; Brussels means a treaty to secure the integrity of the European project for a generation.

That misalignment of perspectives has plagued the Brexit process. Eurosceptics constantly underestimate EU states’ readiness to prize collective solidarity over relations with a splitter nation on its way out of the club. It never occurred to them, for example, that an Irish voice could carry further across the continent than an English one. They did not anticipate the difference between a European negotiation among member states (the kind where Britain often got its way) and a negotiation between the EU and an exiting country issuing unrealistic demands backed by improbable threats.

Johnson still has not grasped that shift in the balance of power. He is committed to the fiction that Britain stands equal in global stature to the EU, and wedded to an electoral strategy that treats cooperation as cowardice. The Tories might gain some domestic advantage by ramping up the bellicose rhetoric. The prime minister can scoop the same old cards back up from the table and repeat the same bluffs, hoping to win a new stack of votes. But that weird poker system doesn’t work in Brussels. Johnson never took Brexit seriously enough to begin with. He still doesn’t understand that for the EU, this isn’t a game.
UK  EU  Brexit  negotiations  politics  JohnsonBoris  noDeal  MichelCharles  MerkelAngela  MacronEmmanuel  FarageNigel  customs  borders  GoodFridayAgreement  singleMarket  delusion  dctagged  dc:creator=BehrRafael 
12 days ago by petej
The Imperial Myths Behind Brexit - The Atlantic
A British leadership that wanted to deliver Brexit safely and was not in thrall to exceptionalism might have learned from past mistakes. Suez might have taught it to prefer reality over fantasy, compromise and conciliation over arrogance and vaingloriousness. Partition might have taught it to respect and understand complexity rather than oversimplify difficult problems, to make a plan before setting tight deadlines. Both might have taught it that you should never, ever imagine you’ve had enough of experts.

But to learn from mistakes you must confront them, and exceptionalism means you never do. Successes may be evidence of Britain’s greatness, but failures are inherently un-British. It is worth noting, too, that exceptionalism does not affect only those who support Brexit. As the historian Robert Saunders has pointed out, “The idea that Britain should lead the EU—widely deployed [by campaigners who supported staying in the EU] in 2016—has as strong an imperial heritage as the aspiration to leave it.” What would be exceptional about meekly accepting equal status with 27 others?

Brexit is exposing flaws in the British political system and culture, but they are not new. Exceptionalist thinking has long helped insulate that system from the criticism and reform it needs.

For advocates and critics of Brexit alike, it may be tempting to imagine a golden age in which Britain was competent, reliable, stable, and sensible. Looking at its history, though, if it turns out to be none of those things, we shouldn’t be surprised.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  exceptionalism  delusion  imperialism  WorldWarII  Suez  Amritsar  India  Pakistan  Mountbatten 
8 weeks ago by petej
Brace yourself, Britain, for a long stint of bad government under Boris Johnson | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian
Johnsonism is the comfort of parochialism camouflaged in the language of global adventure. It is ignorance of the world as it is, smuggled in bluff and nostalgia for the world as it once was. The psychological appeal of such a creed is obvious. It is anaesthetic against the disturbing reality of the times. The galling element is its claim to patriotism, when a predictable outcome is degrading Britain’s standing in the world and making many British citizens poorer.

But threats to security and prosperity do not have to announce themselves with sirens, jackboots and breaking glass. Decline can be slow. Blame can be deflected. Rogue leaders can win majorities. Westminster has been consumed by Brexit fever for the past three years, but most people are not paralysed by a sense of national crisis. The sight of Johnson on the steps of Downing Street will trigger a range of emotions, including extremes of horror and joy, but in between there is a spectrum of curiosity, indifference, wariness and goodwill. His record is appalling, but he can be unfit for office and effective at staying there. He can be selfish, incompetent and also gifted
with the narcissistic gravity that attracts followers. There is no problem facing this country to which Boris Johnson is the solution, but that doesn’t rule him out as the answer people will give when next asked who they choose as prime minister.
UK  politics  ToryParty  JohnsonBoris  leadership  nationalism  delusion  incompetence  narcissism  optimism  dctagged  dc:creator=BehrRafael 
11 weeks ago by petej
It’s the autumn of 2020 and no-deal Britain is on its knees… | Martin Kettle | Opinion | The Guardian
So forget about Wimbledon, the women’s football, the cricket and the summer holidays. Grasp instead that this is the month in which the Conservative party will decide to put modern Britain through the economic and political wringer simply in order to save its own skin from the Brexit party. No one voted for this, least of all in 2016. It would surely be better to remain than to have to rejoin.
UK  EU  Brexit  ToryParty  leadership  JohnsonBoris  noDeal  delusion  trade  tariffs  transition  regulation  standards  borders  dctagged  dc:creator=KettleMartin 
july 2019 by petej
Theresa May’s Brexit lost to the ultimate adversary: reality | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian
This has been the greatest source of frustration and shock for the rest of Europe: the spectacle of a once serious country, formerly admired for the coolness of its temperament, racing towards perilous choices while turning its face defiantly against obvious realities. That, plus the tragic irony of history creating a vacancy for visionary leadership and then filling it with May.

There is an almost perfect mismatch between the prime minister’s character and the skills she has needed. She was blunt when she should have been diplomatic; inscrutable when she needed to be candid. When imagination was required, she opted for inane repetition. When she should have reached out, she doubled down. She appeased enemies of compromise in parliament and squandered goodwill in the country.

It can be hard to disentangle the disaster Brexit might always have been from the specific mess May has made of it. There are turnings on the road to failure that she did not need to take, junctions that were missed. She did not have to embark on the article 50 route before knowing where it led. She could have drawn different red lines or changed them when they confined her to impossible choices. But while there were problems with the driver, there were also limits to how far she could get with Brexiteer maps, scrawled in crayon on the eve of the referendum with wild, higgledy lines pointing at destinations that don’t exist.

The result is that the country has been driven round in circles. The parliamentary debate on May’s deal today was a gloomier, paler version of the one that was held in January. For much of the day the Commons benches were emptier than last time. The prime minister’s exhausted voice was hoarser. The deal was rejected by a smaller margin not because it has got any better, but because fear and exhaustion are catching up with Tory MPs, overtaking their belief that something better will come along.

As for the implacables who voted against May, they were not jubilant. They inflicted a defeat, but they know also that there was no victory here for any kind of Brexit. A ruinous no deal is still technically possible, but a chain of events has been triggered that could lead to postponement or even annulment of the whole project. The prime minister’s humiliation could rebound on to every Eurosceptic fanatic who urged her ever further and faster down the road to nowhere. Brexiteers have a dangerous adversary that they cannot name. It isn’t any opposition party, or Brussels, or remainers. It is reality.
UK  EU  Brexit  withdrawalAgreement  meaningfulVote  defeat  HouseOfCommons  Parliament  backstop  Euroscepticism  MayTheresa  politics  nationalism  delusion  leadership  failure  dctagged  dc:creator=BehrRafael  intransigence 
march 2019 by petej
The endless Brexit lies have left us in an Orwellian nightmare
Anyone remember the days when the EU could "go whistle" for its divorce bill? When we weren't going to have a transition or, if we were, keep it to a few months and concede it as a favour to the EU? When free movement of people would end before that transition began? When we weren't going to sign a backstop that put a border in the Irish Sea or kept us in a customs union? When we were going to sign a backstop, but only so we could move on to negotiate our trade deal? When that trade deal was going to be ready to sign a "nanosecond" after leaving? When the transition was to be an "implementation" period to put that trade deal into effect?
UK  EU  Brexit  negotiations  dishonesty  misinformation  delusion  lies  exceptionalism  dctagged  dc:creator=LisJonathan 
march 2019 by petej
Seeking true happiness? Harness the power of negative thinking | André Spicer | Opinion | The Guardian
Perhaps the pessimism that infuses our age is not something we should recoil from or wallow in. Maybe pessimism could force us to realistically consider the worst-case scenario. Pessimism could help steel us against the inevitable anxieties that the future brings. A good dose of pessimism may actually motivate us in our attempts to address the problems we face. Pessimism could console and even free us. When mixed with some optimism, pessimism may help us to think more soberly and realistically about challenges that we face. Although being pessimistic is painful, it is certainly better than harbouring delusional fantasies about sunny uplands of the future.
pessimism  delusion  dctagged  dc:creator=SpicerAndre  psychology  philosophy 
march 2019 by petej
Britain needs a day of reckoning. Brexit will provide it | Nesrine Malik | Opinion | The Guardian
It has laid bare our political class, squirming pathetically and uselessly under the micro-scrutiny of Brexit. To paraphrase Jeff Bezos, Brexit rolled over the log and we saw what crawled out. The cavalier incompetence of David Davis, the dissimulating of Boris Johnson, the utter pointlessness of Michael Gove, the existence of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the dishonest and regressive elitism he represents. We have seen ministers entrusted with the future of the country learn on the job, and then flee the scene – revealing Westminster in general, and the Tories in particular, as a Ponzi scheme, a confidence trick. We now realise that the business of serious politics in this country rewards those whose only skill is keeping up the appearance of having a skill.
UK  Brexit  politics  delusion  decline  polarisation  division  exceptionalism  inequality  immigration  climateChange 
february 2019 by petej

Copy this bookmark:

to read