Change doesn’t come for free. It’s a common misconception that moving from one way of doing things to another can be done without a lot of effort. Over simplification is used to persuade people to make a change because their reluctance may be difficult to overcome. This is drama being played out big time in the Brexit debate. Week after week, Brexit supporting politicians come up with bland statements to try to offer assurance and comfort to their supporters. Last year, Liam Fox said; the Brexit deal will be the “easiest thing in human history”. David Davis was criticised for his “simple and easy” Brexit claim. Former Ministers have said trade talks should be “easy”.
Rather than relief this insipid populism sends a shiver down the spine of anyone who has had to do serious negotiations in the past. Agreements and Treaties, by their nature, bond those who sign for a significant period. If they didn’t do that, they would be worth the paper that they are written on. All Treaties between States are, in fact, a pooling of sovereignty. Such arrangements bind States to act and behave in a consistent manner, even in disputes.
As if it was a business, signing a mediocre contract can be an impediment and a danger to future success. So, words matter, and they matter even more when they are put down in public to a loud fanfare. That said, every practical business has contacts. Every successful State has Treaties. It really is an embodiment of the John Donne’s words: No man is an island entire of itself. We do not thrive when isolated from others, especially neighbours.
For all the reasons above the attack on British civil servants, over the weekend, was one of the most short-sighted folly’s that hard-line Brexit MPs have made so far, this year. At a time when huge efforts are going to be needed to act with agility and creativity to draft a vast array of detailed texts, its not wise to hit the people you need. It shows that those MPs who acted in this way have little comprehension for the impact of their actions.
In summary, this year has started with little achieved and a long journey ahead with not much time remaining. All in all, a time when doubling or tripling of efforts are going to be needed rather than the insipid populism that is coming from senior politicians. If Brexit happens under these circumstances, then some experts’ negative predictions wont just be predictions.