May. 2nd, 2017


May. 2nd, 2017 10:22 am
chickenfeet: (Default)
 I see a lot of articles and the like about how the leaders of the EU consider the British government position to be "delusional".  I'm beginning to think though that a major part of the problem is that the EU's take on the British government (and a very large chunk of the British people) is also "delusional".  The EU seems to think that the UK is going to negotiate "rationally" where "rationally" means with a realistic (by EU political class standards) understanding of the UK's place in the world and its bargaining power.  I suggest this is a dead wrong assumption.

From my observation point, i.e. as someone brought up in the UK and still with strong ties there but having lived elsewhere for over 30 years, I think this is unlikely.  I'm sure the EU sees the UK as a medium sized political, military and economic power with very little bargaining leverage versus the EU27.  May, and her supporters (a big chunk of the population of the UK), think very differently.  They still see the UK as a "great power" and as very special.  This manifests itself in a number of rather odd ways:
  • An actual belief that the UK is a (more or less) equal partner with the US via the special relationship.
  • A belief that the world (and Europe in particular) owes Britain a huge debt for single handedly liberating Europe from the Nazis.
  • Clinging on desperately to the last bits of Empire in a way that would have made Lord Palmerston guffaw,.  I don't think he cared much for the "Britishness" of the people of Heligoland or the Dodecanese.
This probably isn't a view that too many would articulate in those words but look at the reaction to, say, the Gibraltar issue or the comments directed at Juncker along the lines of "if it wasn't for us you'ld be speaking German" (and leaving aside that he does...)  In short, the government will try to negotiate from a position that seriously overestimates its punching power and will be egged on by the press at every stage.  Paradoxically, the more this approach digs them into a hole, the more they will stick with it.  This does not bode well.

Another stumbling block will be the government's concept of "sovereignty" as something indivisible.  This is a really outdated 19th century notion that needs to be ditched.  The idea that there is an (indivisible) nation that is the only political entity that has the attribute sovereignty is manifestly not true in the modern world and it wouldn't be helpful if it were.  It's even a bit odd that it is such a shibboleth in a rather odd multi-national conglomeration that can't decide what the nation is anyway, at least partly because, outside the fringes, it's not even possible to raise the question and have a rational discussion.  Imagine asking Theresa May whether she is English or British, which of those nations she identifies with and which one is sovereign and whose sovereignty is going to be repatriated from the EU.  I think she's go into a core meltdown repeating "strong and stable" on endless loop until her head exploded.

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