Thursday, 24 May 2018

Trains, boats and planes

Many years ago, I had a boss who regularly used to say that “if we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs if we had some eggs”.  His point, albeit repeated ad nauseam, was a valid one: people always come up with new obstacles and dependencies which prevent them getting on with the task in hand, and as soon as one dependency is resolved, there’s always another one.  And sometimes, they’re even circular.
It was the Foreign Secretary who brought this to mind this week, with his expression of a wish to have a new aeroplane to fly himself and other Brexiters around the world doing new trade deals.  Suitably painted, (presumably in union flags – but definitely not grey, apparently) this would project this undefinable thing called ‘soft power’ in ways which would make people fall over themselves to do new trade deals.  He’s got form on this as well; it’s not so long ago that he was calling for a new royal yacht with the same objective in mind. 
They told us that Brexit would be easy; that the rest of the world would be falling over themselves to do new deals with us if only we supported Brexit.  But now it seems that we need a bit more than that.  If only we had a royal yacht we’d be able to do lots of deals if only we had a shiny new aeroplane as well.  I don’t doubt that if we gave him both, he’d come up with a host of other essentials which are prerequisites for doing the deals of the century; failure will never be his fault, it will always be everyone else’s for not giving him the proper tools for the job.
Meanwhile, in a faraway universe whose existence Brexiters continually deny, those countries which were supposed to be lining up to do deals with the UK are actually lining up to do deals with the EU.  Apparently, from their clearly misguided perspectives, a market of 600 million is more attractive than a market of 60 million.  Who in their right mind would ever have thought that?  Even worse, those antipodeans don’t even realise that they are supposed to get new yachts and aeroplanes first, so that they can project their ‘soft power’.  If we would only buy Boris a plane and a boat, he’d be down under like a shot projecting a bit of this ‘soft power’ stuff, and then they’d fall into line and understand that they need to talk to their former colonialists and masters first, not those beastly European types.
Alternatively, the UK could make a positive effort to try and engage with the rest of the world on terms that everyone else understands, rather than demanding that they all fall into line with the UK.  Just a thought.

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