Thursday, 31 August 2017
On brains and Brexit
If there's one argument in the Great Brexit Debate that I find ridiculous, it's the one where the British negotiating team are described as, at best, well-meaning amateurs - often they're called 'stupid', 'thick' and so forth - facing a slick, organised and ever so clever bunch of Eurocrats. Most of these criticisms come from people who seem little, if at all, qualified to comment themselves.
For a hundred years and more the UK Civil Service has recruited the best and brightest from top universities putting them through exams and turning them into the 'high flyers' of legend. I was chatting to one such at my son's recent wedding - a young man with A levels in science and a first in PPE from Oxford. The idea that the UK's negotiating team lacks brains is plainly nonsense. Even the politician leading the negotiation can hardly be described as thick (degree in computer science, MBA and Harvard post-masters study) or inexperienced (17 years at a big international company several of them at a very senior level - then four years as Europe Minister post-Maastricht).
This doesn't make the negotiating position right. It doesn't mean that we'll get the best deal. Very clever people aren't always successful in these things. But criticising the UK's team for being amateurs, ignorant, stupid or thick is quite simply untrue.