Thursday, 22 April 2021

Cheese, tea and uncomfortable chairs


One has only to remember her infamous speech about cheese to realise that bizarre, Liz, and Truss are words that sit together in an entirely natural way. Indeed, any mention of the UK Trade Secretary without using such an adjective would be, well, bizarre. The story which emerged this week when the media were briefed by her ‘allies’ (and ‘bizarre’ would also be a fitting description of the thought processes of anyone who thought that such a briefing was a helpful act of friendship) that she intends to pursue the UK’s trade talks with the Australians by tying the Australian Trade Minister to an uncomfortable chair and making him face her for 9 hours of talks until he agrees to her demands is wholly credible – even including my little embellishment about the use of rope and knots. I’m not sure which is supposed to be the most punishing aspect of this – the uncomfortable chair or spending 9 hours face to face with Liz Truss discussing the import and export of cheese. On balance, I suspect that the uncomfortable chair is an unnecessary extra.

In fairness, the Brexiteers did promise us a buccaneering approach. Being ‘trussed’ to an uncomfortable chair could be considered merciful compared to being made to walk the plank or being keel-hauled, those methods of persuasion favoured by the buccaneers of old (although it’s possible that those approaches are merely being held in reserve). It’s an astonishing way to approach trade talks with a supposedly friendly independent state, although whether the Brexiteers understand that Australia is independent rather than still a colony is an open question. Attempting to bully other countries into opening their borders to UK exports whilst simultaneously demanding that UK purchasers only buy British-made products suggests that they have learned little since the imperial parliament unilaterally defined the terms of tea imports to the Americas. Perhaps one of Truss’s ancestors had a hand in that, too.

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