Brexit is a mess because of giant political egos

It is normally an iron law of politics that there is always a deal to be made.This rule holds particularly tru...

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 4:26 PM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 4:26 PM

It is normally an iron law of politics that there is always a deal to be made.

This rule holds particularly true when it comes to negotiations between nations.

All countries employ talented, intelligent and inventive diplomats to ensure that there will be an agreement.

So why is this not the case when it comes to Brexit? It is not that there is a lack of political understanding of the possibility -- indeed the need -- for a deal, at least on the part of the 27 countries that will remain member states of the European Union after the UK leaves.

Nor is there a lack of talent on the UK's side. The negotiating team is brilliant, committed and energetic. Or at least the civil servants are: The problem is the politicians.

I remember taking my son -- then four -- to Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in London. He observed in silence the parliamentary give and take from the Visitor's Gallery. But afterward, when asked by his Member of Parliament, Tessa Jowell, what he had thought of the whole thing, he responded thoughtfully: "If we behaved like that at our nursery we would have time out."

The baying, the catcalling, the noise was all to him bad behavior that cried out for discipline. For a long time politics restricted its childish behavior to these limited set pieces. But that is no longer true. The only way to understand modern British politicians as they address Brexit is to realize that they have infantilized politics.

Firstly, there is the banality of the discourse. Former senior civil servant Sir Martin Donnelly quipped that leaving the European Union because trade might be better outside was "giving up a three-course meal [now]... for the promise of a packet of crisps in the future."

Faced with this well-expressed and logical point, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox responded that Brexit is "a little more complex than a packet of Walkers."

In another era, the refusal to engage intellectually and instead to resort to something more worthy of the playground would have been roundly mocked. But standards have slipped so far in British politics that these days there appears to be stiff competition for the most laughable statement of the day.

Earlier that same day, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had compared the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland -- over which violent war was fought -- to the one between the London boroughs of Camden and Westminster, which not even local councillors could accurately sketch. It is all a depressing reminder that the main quality currently required for senior political office in the UK is narcissism.

Secondly, that narcissism -- writ large -- is the driving force of the positions of political parties.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party -- which props up Theresa May's minority Conservative government -- is using its position both to extort money from the Prime Minister and to champion a so-called hard Brexit -- ignoring Northern Ireland's vote to stay in the EU.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Nationalist Party is using the issue to argue for a second independence referendum.

The Conservative Party uses it to have a collective nervous breakdown -- slowly and in public -- while its fringe of europhobic Brexiteer backbenchers pushes for a bigger, bolder, madder, faster Brexit.

And what about the opposition Labour Party? You would have to be a saint not to want to exploit the writhing agonies of the government and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn never misses an opportunity to kick the government when it is down.

Some of this is entertaining, but most of it is horrifying. Britain, after all, faces its single most important decision in peacetime. Do the political parties show any recognition of this? Do they show that they care about the country, its people and its businesses? Of course they don't. This is a narcissist's paradise. It's all, and always, about them.

The tragedy is not simply in the outcome -- a bad Brexit means a Britain that is permanently poorer. But it is also a tragedy in the process -- because there is a practical and pragmatic deal to be done.

Could Britain live being out of the EU, but in the Customs Union and the Single Market? It would mean Britain would have to take rules from the EU and contribute to its budget.

But we would be out of the EU as the referendum demanded. A compromise? Yes, but in a very British way, we would be making the best of things and muddling through.

Will it happen? It should. But how can we get there? Maybe my son was right all those years ago: Childish behavior needs the sanctions of a good parent. British politicians -- of all parties -- need to be made to sit on the naughty step until they decide that they should work together to get the best deal for everyone in Britain, rather than the deal that positions them closest to the front door of Number 10 Downing Street.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 83°
Kokomo
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 83°
Rensselaer
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Fowler
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Williamsport
Overcast
78° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 79°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 78°
Delphi
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 81°
Monticello
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 81°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 81°
Nice calm evening & night ahead.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74992

Reported Deaths: 3044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15963725
Lake7632275
Elkhart488385
Allen3937163
St. Joseph354682
Hamilton2803104
Vanderburgh199713
Hendricks1901108
Cass17969
Johnson1767118
Porter133839
Clark124447
Tippecanoe122111
Madison98765
LaPorte92130
Howard90565
Kosciusko86212
Bartholomew80147
Floyd79146
Marshall79022
Monroe75930
Delaware73852
Dubois70012
Noble68429
Boone68346
Hancock67038
Vigo66810
Jackson5885
Warrick58630
LaGrange55910
Shelby55827
Grant52830
Dearborn50828
Morgan48334
Clinton4403
Henry38520
Wayne37710
White37210
Montgomery35421
Lawrence35027
Harrison34123
Decatur33832
Putnam2908
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25134
Jasper2452
Franklin24314
DeKalb2354
Gibson2284
Jennings22612
Steuben2113
Ripley2087
Carroll1932
Fayette1907
Perry18612
Starke1787
Posey1770
Orange17324
Wells1712
Wabash1703
Fulton1692
Jefferson1652
Knox1590
Whitley1546
Tipton14311
Washington1421
Spencer1363
Sullivan1341
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1234
Newton11810
Adams1022
Jay920
Owen911
Pulaski831
Rush804
Brown741
Fountain742
Blackford652
Ohio655
Benton620
Pike560
Vermillion550
Parke521
Switzerland520
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren231
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events