Downing Street Delusion

Perhaps you’ve also been astounded by the volume of ineptitude emanating from No 10 Downing Street, the home of the British Government, in recent months.  Democracy suggests that we get the politicians we deserve and if that’s true then British society really must be in a bad place. I am in no doubt that the COVID curve balls aimed at all global leaders in recent months are as fast and challenging as it ever gets. Mistakes have and will continue to be made and hindsight will be the only reliable judge of which decisions worked and which did not.

Maybe the onset of middle age which brings clearer views, strong opinions & longer memories inevitably lead to grumpy old man status when it comes to viewing the politicians of the day. Or, maybe it’s just that this collection of government ministers really are the least talented for a generation or more. To best illustrate their astonishing lack of awareness, let’s return to that old topic, BREXIT (sorry!).

This is the precise moment, a matter of days from the next milestone on June 30, where the UK needs to extend its transition from the EU or cancel the exit all together.  The unintended consequences of exit are already deeply challenging for a generation to come but now they will be catastrophic and here’s why. The world has managed extreme conditions before. In the 1940’s, global leaders were able to look back to the end of WW1 and see that their lack of cooperation at the time directly caused the economic and social devastation that followed in the 1920’s leading to the great depression and indeed WW2. Even during the latter part of WW2, global leaders started planning for the post war era knowing that close cooperation was essential if a repeat of the 1920’s was to be avoided. It seems to me that there is a mirror image of the 3 most important challenges facing today’s leaders as there was for their predecessors 75 years ago.

We have a common enemy to prevail against (virus = fascism), we need to create a world order that accommodates utterly different political & social systems (Churchill, Roosevelt & Stalin had to work out how to rub along together) & economic reconstruction must happen in the face of unprecedented government debt levels and broken global supply lines (debt levels now are very similar in relative terms as they were in 1945)  If we are to beat this virus, global cooperation is absolutely & utterly the only way to win out. Here’s just 3 things that we must do; share research, get trade flowing by removing barriers & create early warning systems so virus outbreaks can be stopped. Socially we stand on the highest step of solidarity that we’ve seen since the horrors of apartheid in South Africa were shown 30 years ago.

In 3 short months, human beings have done wonderful things – volunteering, working in adverse conditions, helping harvest crops & just this month demonstrating universal condemnation of racism writ large following the murder of George Floyd. So, let’s now tie all this back to BREXIT.

At precisely the time, the very moment in history when every signpost points toward political and geographic cooperation, when populations are willing to work together putting aside their differences, when global trade must be oiled and greased – what does the UK decide to do? Well, on June 14 2020, it re-affirmed its position that the transition period of exit from the EU (2020) will not be extended or our exit cancelled. Make no mistake, this is no longer about the ‘details’ of whether a trade deal with EU gets agreed by year end or not. Oh no, the unintended consequences of departure is that the UK shows itself to the world as uncooperative, socially exclusive, combative & uncompromising. All the very traits that will, regrettably & unforgivably make the country unable to defeat the very enemy that has already killed over 40,000 people & unable to join the global movement for a social and economic renaissance. #CooperateOrDisintegrate   

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