The Drake Equation

When was the moment you became afraid, genuinely afraid, for the outcome of Brexit?

Maybe it happened a while ago. Maybe it hasn’t happened yet. I hit that point today.

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We’re less than a week into the Brexit process and the UK has already told the EU that there may be security concerns…nudge nudge…if it doesn’t get what it wants (although that was just a misunderstanding, don’t you know?).

Then the Government was utterly blindsided by Spain gaining a veto over any deal which involves Gibraltar – despite those in the actual know talking about it for literally months prior to the vote.

In response, senior politicians in the UK – a NATO member – are threatening another NATO member with the prospect of actual war.

And the negotiations haven’t even started yet.

As part of my EU Referendum series, back right before the Brexit vote I stated that I didn’t believe the hype that a Leave vote would be the utter ruination of everything.

I even felt that J. J. Patrick’s three part series on the road to a Dystopian Brexit was, if plausible, at least well out on the edge of the probable. At best a warning rather than a prediction.

What I hadn’t, obviously, fully appreciated was the utter incompetence of the UK Government’s Brexit team. I’m not just talking about the bumbling excuse for a clown that is Boris Johnson – such a Titanic Success he’s been – but also David Davis, who nine months after the vote and just days before the triggering of Article 50 couldn’t answer even basic questions about the “plan”.

But even all that is just incompetence. Even that would just lead to the UK being out-negotiated on every major issue by the EU until it either accepts the deal offered or stomps off into the sunset without one.

And this latter option is what looks increasingly likely. It really does look like the “plan” is to walk out of talks and to find some way of blaming the EU for it happening.

But back to that headline. The sight of the UK threatening another European nation with war as a negotiating tactic – for that is what it is, make no mistake there – is deeply disturbing. At heart, I’m a pacifist. War should never be considered an “option” in the diplomatic process, not even the final option. It should be considered to be the consequence of the failure of the last option. Even the threat of a war is one which can rapidly spiral out of control, if one ever presumed for a moment that it could have been controlled.

What’s the strategy here anyway? By launching an attack on another NATO member, the UK would pull in other NATO members, most of them also European. Does the UK want to pull the USA into this to pick an ally? Or hang one side (or both) out to dry?

Is the UK relying on Donald Trump being a rational and impartial mediator in all of this?

As has been noted elsewhere, this shouldn’t even have been any kind of issue at all. Most of the deals of any competence within the EU divorce settlement, including the Gibraltar/Spain border issue, need to be ratified by the entire EU27, including Spain, anyway. At this point it looks as though the inclusion of the explicit Spanish veto was added to the EU’s strategy document for one (or both) of two purposes. a) As a sweetener to keep Spain “on-side” and acting within the whole of the EU27 “as one” and/or b) to test the UK’s plan to see what they’d do and to test the robustness of its strategy ahead of the negotiations.

The UK didn’t just blink in the face of this test. It has shut its eyes, screamed loudly and ran right off the cliff. The EU now knows that the UK has buttons which can be pressed. Westminster needs to ramp down the rhetoric immediately and get a serious grip of itself before it reaches the negotiation table proper if it wants to be taken seriously. From the lack of planning, through the deliberate exclusion of the devolved nations (and Gibraltar) from any kind of involvement in negotiations out to frankly stupid statements like this the UK has done a great deal of harm to its own reputation and the chances of making Brexit bearable, never mind making it a “success”.

And we’re less than a week into the Brexit process. Two years to go.

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One thought on “The Drake Equation

  1. Competence is the key word in all this as it realistically has been for decades for the UK’s economic and social development track record in the modern world. Taking the end of WW2 as a starting point. although the rot had already well and truly set in well before that, (lack of) competence is maybe the only word that can describe the relentless decline of the UK. At a time of huge change within all economies around the world, and even with the one-off windfall that North Sea oil was and which our European neighbours did not have, the UK continued it’s relentless decline compared to Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark.

    So what’s the likelihood that the UK will now become competent and end this charade? Well since the UK ‘elite’ seem to find some of their Basil Fawlty impersonations funny, showing just how out of touch their grasp of reality is, the answer is – none within the foreseeable future.

    Their entire economic plan for the UK has and still consists mainly of two things – firstly privatisation and secondly meaningless phrases (global leader in trade, entrepreneurial society etc etc). All they really want is to live in a pseudo imperial past. Now that moves from being incompetent to certifiable, as the films clips in this story more than adequately show.

    The underlying question at the next Indyref will be – ‘Do you want to remain as part of the UK and not only continue to be held back, but this time be dragged under as well, or by leaving the pantomime that is the UK, make your own decisions about how Scotland develops in the future. ‘

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