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Brexit Britain sets itself up to learn the hard way
It was sadly appropriate that Denis Norden, the star of the British television show It'll be Alright on the Night, died in the same week as the EU's Salzburg summit took place. The working assumption of many in Britain has been that the Brexit negotiations will ultimately "be all right on the night". The national philosophy of muddling through will prevail once again. After all, national humiliations and catastrophes only happen to people who are unfortunate enough to live on the other side of the Channel.

Salzburg delivered a serious blow to this kind of complacency. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Brexit negotiations could indeed fail. Both the EU and the UK are now talking seriously about the threat of "no deal"- with Britain simply crashing out of the EU in March.

Jeremy Hunt, Britain's foreign secretary, has warned the EU not to misread the situation, by under-estimating Britain's strength of will. But, in reality, it is the UK government that has consistently miscalculated during the Brexit negotiations - by over-estimating the strength of its hand.

If this persists, I fear that Britain is heading towards what counsellors call a "teachable moment", otherwise known as a traumatic experience that forces people (or nations) into a fundamental reassessment.

The UK has experienced similar moments in the postwar period. The failed Suez invasion of 1956 was a mortification that underlined the fact that Britain was no longer an imperial power. Calling in the IMF in 1976 was a humiliating illustration of the UK's economic weakness. A Brexit debacle could lead to another painful moment of realisation, highlighting the practical limitations on British national sovereignty.

I have responded to the article as follows:

Excellent commentary, but also somewhat naive. In reality the EU position (no less than the British) is constantly evolving, and Brexit is an excellent opportunity to lay down some lines in the sand - to discourage any others - and to fortify what might have been some shifting sands in the past.

It's not purely about power, it's also about self-preservation, and here the EU has as much to lose as the UK. Brexit provides a wonderful opportunity to show unprecedented unity of purpose, at a time when there is much for the EU to be dis-united about. It provides a wonderful illustration of the benefits of membership, at a time when some recalcitrant members may be tempted to threaten to leave.

After the UK's experience, it will be a very long time before any member, however unhappy, will be tempted to trigger A.50. It's like shooting yourself in the foot, when your original problem was but in your big toe. Greece may still be feeling humiliated by it's treatment by the EU, but it will have nothing on the humiliation felt by the UK by the time the EU is finished with it.

Gideon must of course express some sympathy for the UK's complaints of Commission "inflexibility", but it is in reality nothing more than the rigorousness required of an institution set up by Treaty by 28 Sovereign states and which requires a consensus by 27 to proceed. Do the British really want to be held hostage to a referendum in Ireland required to change some aspect of the Single market or Customs Union to which they themselves signed up as a member?

The amateurishness of the UK government's approach defies belief and almost guaranties an catastrophic outcome. The EU simply has no one competent to negotiate with and hasn't had to depart from its opening positions. Suez mark II is a kind description.



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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 24th, 2018 at 04:54:35 PM EST
the problem being that Suez has been all but edited from history as UK public and politicians understand it.

Everything is still Churchill gruffly declaring, "Very well then. Alone !!" with only the memory of the victory 5 years later to vindicate him.

They forget that, at that stage of the war, we were losing. And losing badly. Dunkirk was still the final humiliation of a chaotic defeat in France rather than the plucky rearguard action mythology later painted it. The Atlantic convoys were being sunk wholesale.

But no, we only remember the Battle of Britain, Sinking the bismarck, the Dambusters, our starring role in D-Day. Even Arnhem (FFS!!!)

Suez?? Wassat????

My FB timeline is filled with rah rah screeds about Britain having saved Europe in WW2. How we won the falklands while giving the world rock and roll.

Realistic or even moderately optimistic assessments of our post-EU futue simply do not feature.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Sep 24th, 2018 at 06:39:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because for convinced Brexiteers, its not about economics. It's about national pride. It's about once again being a major power in the world in your own right - dealing with the EU and other major powers as an equal.

It's about forgetting that winning WWII was only possible with US and Soviet assistance. It's about forgetting the EU's role in helping the UK remain the 5th. largest economy in the world.

It's about English being the lingua franca of the world. It's about Queen and country, the Commonwealth, about Oxbridge and a class system desinged to rear "natural rulers" with an entitlement to rule.

Forget Suez, IMF, Scottish independence, Irish troubles. Especially forget Brussels bureaucracy, multilateralism, and boring diplomacy. The world needs us!

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 24th, 2018 at 07:16:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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