Tweet Half a century ago, I remember my Chemistry teacher telling me that she was struggling to work out whether I was as stupid as I appeared to be, or very clever and trying to hide the fact by pretending to be stupid. I thought that she was being very perceptive in her second interpretation, but that's not a proposition which would necessarily gain unanimous support. What brought the thought back to me yesterday was Theresa May's interview in which she was asked about the second Scottish independence referendum, when she followed her now customary approach of ignoring every question and just restating the same thing over and over again (in this case that "now is not the time").
It is, to follow the theme with which I started, entirely possible that she believes that to be an adequate answer to the question "when, then?" after the first iteration, however it is formulated. Or perhaps she believes that the rest of us will accept it as an entirely adequate response because she's the boss and she's said it. In either case, I'd have to conclude that she really is as stupid as she appears to be. But what if we give her the benefit of the doubt and postulate that she is actually very clever, just pretending to be stupid? (And I'd really like to be able to do that; assuming that the Prime Minister really is as stupid as she seems to be is not exactly a comfortable position for any country to be in.)
Is there any way in which we might we be able to conclude that there's some underlying cleverness at work? Well, I suppose that if she really believes that the Brexit negotiations are doomed to fail (as she apparently thought was the case before the vote itself) and has turned the whole exercise into a trap into which Johnson, Davis, and Fox have unwittingly rushed and are in the process of hoisting themselves by their own red white and blue petards, that might be quite clever. She could just be waiting until they're all absolutely tied up in knots before reinventing herself as the white knight riding to the rescue of the UK to save us from ourselves by cancelling the Brexit project. Or perhaps she has a cunning plan to allow Scotland to stay in the single market after all, thus revealing to the Scots that she's had their best interests at heart all along, but couldn't say anything for fear that those evil Europeans would be able to use her words against her. That might turn out to look rather clever too.
Sadly, try as I might, I can't believe either of those. In fact, I simply can't find any scenario which works better than the simplest assumption of all.
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