Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Downing Street suicide pact

Probably for the first time in my life I am very seriously worried by what the government is doing. Worried is a word we use all too often but it has taken on a new meaning for me of late.

There is no doubt in my mind that a no deal Brexit would be unimaginably damaging to the UK. No responsible government should allow it - and a functioning government apparatus would be so acutely aware of the consequences that there would never be any question of allowing talks to fail.

This, however, is where we are headed. This government is playing games and its attitude to the EU is completely inappropriate. Bizarre even. David Davis has misread the EU completely. He is absolutely convinced the EU is only in it for the money. He thinks EU is mounting an elaborate sham simply to extort the maximum amount of money from the UK. There isn't the slightest understanding of the EU's position, its limitations and constraints.

Were that the reality, seeing it in those terms, with the EU cast as the playground bully, it makes sense to make a robust, principled stand. That's what they think they're doing, but it's based on a child-like appreciation of what the EU is. It has no foundation in reality. They have literally created a fictional narrative and are then basing all their responses and decisions on that. There is no logic to what they are doing. Their entire response is based on something which is not real - thus it can only fail.

At the centre of this is David Davis, unimpeded by Theresa May who is not in command of the events or the issues. One suspects May's influences are being heavily policed and she is not getting impartial or even realistic feedback. She has no grasp of Brexit or indeed the consequences and the Brexit Gestapo and making sure it stays that way.

The consequence of this is that we will continue to misdirect our efforts over what ought to be the least difficult part of the process, wasting time we don't have. I rather suspect it is on this issue that Davis will launch a grandstanding stunt. They have convinced themselves that there is no penalty to the WTO option and that, in any event, within days of telling the EU where to go, the "colleagues" will come crawling back giving us everything we want.

This is not going to happen. The EU is not going to tolerate that kind of stunt and if collectively they feel that the UK is not going to engage then there is little point in prolonging the proceedings. The plug will be pulled.

So fundamentally out of kilter is our approach that there is little likelihood of a last minute change of attitude. The conceptual misapprehensions at the heart of government cannot be remedied. There is no feedback mechanism and they function in an alternate reality. Reality cannot intrude. It doesn't even have a visitors pass.

It is therefore of some concern that Brexitologists are distracted and churning over the decoy material. There are a number of leaked papers keeping them occupied, scanning for any hint of coherence. There won't be any and they are wasting their time. UK position papers are seriously deficient and entirely unrealistic. This government simply does not understand that the EU is an amalgam of integrated and interrelated systems. Without recognition of that fact any disparate proposals can only fall flat.

The problem is that government is not consulting any wider than a narrow pool of spads, none of whom grasp the technical issues. Any proposals need to be compatible with the EU's systems and aims - not abstract "blue sky" policy. That means technicians should be steering the proposals, not political advisers. They are not up to it.

Again though, this cannot be corrected. Expertise is unlikely to be consulted because that is the last thing the Brexit Gestapo want. They do not wish to be told that this approach cannot work. They have set about doing it their way and consequences be damned. It therefore seems that the chances of success, or even survival, are remote. Our only hope now is for this government to fall.

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