Michel Barnier on how Brexit went wrong

Brexit is over. It’s done. We may not have agreed with it, but there was a democratic vote, and we agree with that. What’s more we think it both inadvisable and impossible for the United Kingdom to join the European Union now. Brexit must be made to work. And the problems of the UK are far more deep rooted and chronic than the sudden irruption of 2016. So much so that EU membership is largely irrelevant to them.

But did it have to be done quite so incompetently? So much so that even many of its erstwhile supporters are beginning to doubt its relevance or wisdom?[1] How did a nation manage its affairs so badly in the crucial years 2016-2020? The reappearance of Michel Barnier on British television prompts memories of that question, and many others. His book My Secret Brexit Diary is excoriating about successive British negotiating teams. He and the EU ran rings around them from the start. [2] In this tiny space we can offer but one extract, but it says it all

When negotiations opened, the media made much of a photo of Barnier sitting with a file full of papers on the table in front of him while David Davis had nothing at all. The reality was far worse. Barnier was astounded by Davis’s “nonchalant” approach: “As is always the case with him we rarely get into the substance of things

How did intelligent, educated men like Davis, Boris Johnson and David Frost play their hand so very badly? They were backed by an superb diplomatic machine, the support of most of the nation, and an overwhelmingly, almost obsessively compliant media. Or is the clue to their downfall in that last?

You see, foreign readers, the British Ruling Class does not need to negotiate. Never had to. Never learned it. Every enemy they come across-miners, europeans, immigrants, teachers- can at once be screamed down, demonised and demolished by a hopelessly partisan, hysterical press and media. So effectively that they are deprived of all legitimate agency. No case they can present is worthy of consideration. To consider their point of view, to empathise(a key skill in negotiation) is to become a Traitor. This works well in Britain, where all opposition has been successfully flattened for decades . But in wider lands, where the writ of the Daily Mail does not run, this attitude causes problems. And so our rulers, so accustomed to getting their way at home, became hopelessly out of their depth when faced with a real world intellectual challenge, which less cossetted statesmen take in their stride.

Now Britain sits isolated from any trading bloc of significance, and the consequences mount by the day. Brexit has to be made to work, their is no other option. But before it can, we must learn about why it has started so badly for us.



#brexit uk #eu

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