Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Keeping one's head in a crisis

The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU told Parliament yesterday that anyone who voted against the government bill on withdrawal was voting for a chaotic Brexit.  In the light of events so far, and in particular his own performance to date, it’s tempting to ask whether there actually is any other type of Brexit, whichever way they vote.  Chaos seems to be the order of the day, and it’s largely self-inflicted.
It looks like another attempt to blame someone else – anyone – for the failures of a government which gives every appearance of having not a clue what it wants in any degree of detail, but continues to maintain that whatever it is, the others should give it to them, because, well, UK.  There was another example of blame-apportioning a week or so ago, when William Hague argued that the government shouldn’t blame the voters even though it was really all their fault; by not giving the Tories the bigger majority which May had assumed would follow the election, they were going to end up having to pay more to leave the EU.  The mechanism by which the size of the government’s majority affects the amount of money owed to the EU was not spelled out of course (it would be interesting to see him try), but the electorate is the latest convenient scapegoat.
In the meantime, the leader of the Scottish branch of the Conservative and Unionist Party, said last week in relation to Brexit: “My real fear is that if there’s a short-term economic hit, we don’t bounce back from it”.  It’s an interesting definition of ‘short-term’ to say the least.
However, whilst her party, government, and ministers thrash around spending more time debating with each other than negotiating with the EU27, the not-at-all-robotic Prime Minister continues to talk serenely about smooth transitions, strength, and certainty.  It reminds me of someone I once worked with who, at a particularly difficult time in a large and complex project, said to the project manager, “if you can keep your head whilst all around you are losing theirs, you haven’t got a (expletive deleted) clue what’s going on”.

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