Friday, 18 November 2016


Fraser Nelson thinks that our government has a Brexit strategy. This isn't necessarily a good thing.

If, he's wrong, we're screwed. If he's right, we're probably screwed, too, because he thinks that the cunning plan at the heart of the most crucial economic decision for generations is a version of the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). I'm really not kidding:
There is another way to handle these talks. Richard Nixon called it the Madman theory, where you let your opponent think you’re crazy enough to act destructively....

...Mrs May’s best Brexit strategy may lie in her presenting herself as someone who is unafraid of a fight, doesn’t really mind who she upsets – and is, above all, capable of doing anything. 
The full think piece is here (Telegraph subscription required).

What's wrong with this picture? Two things:

First, if your entire negotiating strategy depends on bluff, intimidation and picking fights, it's really important that your opponents think that you are stronger than they are, or they'll call your bluff and give you a good kicking.

In this particular fight, there are 27 of them, versus one of us.

Over half of our exports go to the 27 countries we've decided to pick a fight with. They only export 6.6% of their stuff to us. They know this. But the British government's plan* is, apparently, to hope that the rest of Europe just hasn't noticed that we're bringing a custard pie to a knife fight.

Second, two can play at that game. We can try to convince them that we're a bunch of dangerous lunatics by making Boris Johnson our chief diplomat, but look who we're up against. The man who put the "mad" into Mutually Assured Destruction, Doctor Strangelove Schäuble. The man who was prepared to destroy Greece, just to remind it who's boss. If Mrs May stands up in an EU meeting and starts banging the desk with one of her kitten heels, like a huffy Khrushchev, would you really bet folding money that Doctor S will blink first? I wouldn't.

The upside of all this is that I really don't have time to worry about Trump - I'm way too busy being terrified of how insane British politicians seem to be, assuming that their plans are anything like as crazy as their fans in the media seem to imagine.

*If this is the plan, and not just a piece of Torygraph columnist fanfic, where Theresa May is the stern dominatrix