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.

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4 comments:

Ben Dhonau said...

Accepting that your Brexit negotiators are individually not stupid, perhaps you would like to explain why, collectively, they are acting as if they are both stupid and ill informed.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to haggling a deal, do you want Stephen Hawking or Del-Boy Trotter? You decide.

Simon Cooke said...

Ben. This is like the blind men and the elephant. I'm not sure which bit of the elephant you're holding but my bit is fine.

I don't think the negotiating team are either stupid or ill-informed. They may not be pitching it as I would pitch it. They may well be mistaken. It seems to me that an awful lot of effort is being put in by equally 'stupid' and 'ill-informed' people to make out - mostly for political reasons - that Britain's Brexit position is somehow foolish.

Henry Kaye said...

I have no opinion about the talents or otherwise of our team but I do know beyond any doubt whatsoever that the journalists who "report" on the negotiations (or anything else for that matter) have only one purpose in life- and that is to create controversy, distort any reality that there may be and to stray as far from the truth as they can possibly go with incurring legal penalties.