May. 2nd, 2017 10:22 am
chickenfeet: (Default)
[personal profile] chickenfeet
 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  This is a really outdated 19th century notion that needs to be ditched.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.

Date: 2017-05-02 03:47 pm (UTC)
gramarye1971: chamber of the House of Commons (Commons Chamber)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
It's the whole sovereignty is virginity fallacy all over again. As if Article 50 were some sort of hymen reconstruction surgery to restore Britain's virtue from decades of mauling by the rapacious Europeans. Not that I have all that much love for Geoffrey Howe, but it does make me want to go back and dip into his memoirs a bit.

These days, I frequently think of Edmund Dell's assessment of Harold Wilson's desperate, angry pleading with Lyndon Johnson over Britain's shambolic international financial position in the 1960s: like a suicide threatening to cut his throat on his neighbour's doorstep. In May's case, though, I'm reminded more of Wile E. Coyote attempting to blow up the Roadrunner and not noticing (or caring) that the dynamite has lodged itself underneath him instead.

Date: 2017-05-02 11:39 pm (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
I think you're absolutely right. I read a couple of good articles/opinion pieces on Brexit as nostalgia for British Imperialism, but it was months ago so I don't have links handy.

Date: 2017-05-03 07:21 am (UTC)
questioncurl: hollow sculpture of words (Default)
From: [personal profile] questioncurl
This seems spot on, at least from my (also outside the UK) viewpoint. I did GCSE History, which ended with the UK joining the European Union and there was a strong flavour of 'we have left all that embarrassing imperialist nonsense behind; here we are after WWII, sadder and wiser and still hopeful about a shared European world' and everything I've read about Brexit seems expressly designed to erase that chapter's lessons.

Date: 2017-05-03 12:31 pm (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
A lot of us wot voted 'in' also see it as delusional!

Date: 2017-05-03 01:56 pm (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
Yeah, the ZOMG! Things will all implode tomorrow and you're all too thick and working class to see it!' was pretty counter productive!

Date: 2017-05-04 10:18 am (UTC)
nanila: me (Default)
From: [personal profile] nanila
I didn't understand why the Remain campaign was so negative either. "Let us keep the peace and stability we've worked so hard to build" would surely have been better than "O NOES economic instability". Most people in the UK experience "economic instability" on a daily basis. You know, by not having enough money to afford basic necessities.

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