‘Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.’

Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

08 August 2017

On the Record | Brexit cunning leaves Eurocrats nonplussed

Please see my latest wire for The American Spectator, ‘Brexit cunning leaves Eurocrats nonplussed’:

Baldrick, of Blackadder fame, a member of Team Brexit? Who knew? For the uninitiated, Blackadder is a British comedy series, starring Rowan Atkinson (of Mr. Bean renown) in the title role, as various scheming rogues through the march of history. Tony Robinson plays his dogsbody Baldrick, who in times of crisis invariably says, “I have a cunning plan.”

Baldrick’s “outing” as the fourth Brexiteer — the three UK Government principals are David Davis at Exiting the European Union, Liam Fox at International Trade, and Boris Johnson at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office — comes courtesy of this Politico headline, “Brussels fears Britain’s ‘Brexit chaos’ part of cunning plan.” EU officials are nonplussed at the cool nonchalance of their Westminster counterparts. “Trade attachés in particular who know their British colleagues as tough, canny negotiators are suspicious of the seemingly fickle and aimless procrastination from the British government,” Politico reports. “The Brits’ chaotic early posture in the Brexit talks has left them wondering whether London is pulling some sort of deft ploy — a strategy of pretending not to have a strategy.”

One EU official is worried that when negotiations resume in September, the British team is “going to swamp us with [position] papers on the fault lines — exactly the issues where they know we [the EU27 countries] are divided.” Further remarks from the Maltese prime minister will encourage Brits anxious over their government’s competence to pull the country out of the European Union. “People who say the Brits don’t know what they are doing are wrong,” Joseph Muscat told the Dutch daily de Volkskrant. “I have lived in Britain, I know the British mentality. A non-prepared British government official simply doesn’t exist.” But Brexiteers shouldn’t get cocky. “A seasoned EU diplomat said that if London had constructed an elaborate ruse to gain the upper hand in Brexit, it had fooled even the British negotiators,” according to Politico. “If it is indeed a mise en scène, this diplomat said: ‘It would be an extremely sophisticated one.’”

As I conclude:

In the end, all we can do is wait and trust in the skill, strategy, and foresight of the Brexit negotiators. As Blackadder fans will attest, poor Baldrick’s cunning plans were outlandish nonsense, meant to evoke scorn from his superior and laughter from the audience. And Brexit is no laughing matter. But Baldrick is just the sort of patriotic “everyman,” common in English theatre, who voted for Brexit and whom the Government serves: he is full of ideas for making good — for himself, his family, and his nation. As long as his cunning never tires, never fear, for Britain will prosper. “It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people,” Adam Smith wrote of the ruling class of his day. “Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.” Trust in the people animates Brexit. No wonder the EU is flummoxed.

Read more . . .

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My thanks to editor Wlady Pleszczynski of The American Spectator.