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As I understand it from reading Fox, the game has three basic rules: the importance of not being earnest; a one-upmanship that presents itself as a joke but that has a hard edge of self-assertion; and the lack of interest in reaching a conclusion. The approach of British prime minister Boris Johnson's regime to the Brexit negotiations meets all three tests.

The dominant linguistic mode of MBTY, says Fox, is "fake lightheartedness". This, along with mock anger and pretend outrage, is Johnson's USP. His mastery of phoney nonchalance is what so many of his compatriots love about him and what makes him the Maradona of Mine's Better Than Yours. Hence Johnson singing Waltzing Matilda to his officials last Thursday evening as the talks broke down, to show he was ready for the "Australia-style" arrangement that is his empty euphemism for no deal at all.

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This irritated insouciance is mirrored in the breathtaking refusal to prepare for the bureaucratic deluge: the 215 million additional customs declarations, the data systems needed to keep 220 million tonnes of freight flowing across the UK's borders. Yawn.

Jokey-but-serious one-upmanship so permeates Brexit discourse that it has crossed species into pandemic-speak: "world-beating" Britain "leading humanity's charge".  

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This is why the trade talks have been dogged by mutual incomprehension. Instead of seriously mapping out a realistic future, the British side has been playing MBTY. But the EU neither understood nor cared about this game. It has been playing a different match, with entirely different objectives.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 12:20:35 AM EST
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((Youtube ue7wM0QC5LE))

You tube seems to have changed the way you embed videos... can't get this one to render


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 12:35:14 AM EST
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by Oui on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 04:53:35 AM EST
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It was just a lark?

As it now goes down the wire, the choice comes down to hard Brexit or whatever deal Barnier negotiated with some minor adjustments (and a photo-op with Johnson and a fish). Given the UKs inability to formulate its negotiation positions internally, it is going to be mostly Barnier's team that have written the texts.

That choice in return comes down to what Johnson really, really wants. And given that he is all phoney nonchalance, who knows?

I am reminded of Henderson's Failure of a mission, where Henderson - the Brittish ambassador to Germany in the late 30ies - lays out their plans to embolden the peace wing of the nazi party through the Münich agreement and how it failed because they hadn't understood that Hitler was leading the war wing. Sometimes history does come down to individuals, mostly men with to much power and to little sense.

by fjallstrom on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 09:48:30 AM EST
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For Hitler, if it was a choice between a war and him losing his leadership position, it was no contest. I suspect the calculation is similar for Johnson, as the Tory party can be pretty ruthless about getting rid of a leader no longer perceived as an asset.

So does Johnson want to be a Churchillian wartime leader, indeed a leader whose leadership role is only sustainable through war, or a more conventional PM who brings home the bacon in terms of an international deal, and then must face the consequences of secular decline dressed up as making Britain Great again in the form of inane claims to "world leading science", bestist country in the world, greatest contact tracing app in the WORLD?

The latter role is more that of a snake-oil salesman and petty patriot, a role well suited to the minor talents of Health and Education Secretaries Hancock and Williamson. But perhaps Boris thinks he has done all that in his prior incarnations as journalist and Mayor. Perhaps, now he wants to be the real deal - a wartime leader in the mould of his mentor Winston Churchill?

If that is the case we can brace for "THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN" all over again, against imaginary foes if necessary, or makey uppy ones like the evil Soviet European Union, hopeful of the USA riding to the rescue once again, with Russia or Turkey or the Middle east refugees weakening the Union prior to a successful British assault on BE Day, when the hated Union will be dismembered into its constituent parts.

History doesn't often repeat itself with the same cast of villains,  but sometimes the roles can be mockingly reversed. Witness the State of Israel's pogroms against the Palestinian people, having been founded on the horrors of the Holocaust.  Brexit is Britain's Balfour Declaration asserting its right to become an independent nation having been subjected to the imagined horrors of European subjugation for too long.

Boris can only have his place in history by going to war. Otherwise he is merely one of a long line of mostly short-lived Tory PM's managing a declining nation into oblivion.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 12:52:02 PM EST
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"Boris can only have his place in history by going to war. Otherwise he is merely one of a long line of mostly short-lived Tory PM's managing a declining nation into oblivion."

I disagree. Boris is already guaranteed a place in history as the person who pulled the UK out of the EU. Whether there is a deal or not, whether there is a general economic collapse or not, whether the US manages to take over England's food supply system or not--in any case the UK will in three weeks officially be out of the EU.

Theresa May is an example of one of the long line of useless PMs, and will be overlooked in the books.

by asdf on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 05:48:25 PM EST
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Well Cameron set the scene by organising the referendum in an attempt to deal with internal party divisions, May continued the process by insisting on a hard Brexit outside the Single Market and Customs Union, Boris got her deal across the line with minor amendments, and now, under his watch, the final formal acts of Brexit are taking place as the transition period expires.

However other than winning an election on endorsing "an oven ready deal" he subsequently threatened to reneged on, he has done little but preside over a corrupt and incompetent regime, mishandled Covid, enriched his chums, undermined civil liberties, and accelerated the break-up of the UK. I suspect he will want a more positive legacy. Winning a war would do the trick, but first he must find an enemy he can defeat.

The EU, for all its faults, doesn't appear to be willing to play the fall guy. If the EU cannot agree the implementation of the Covid recovery plan and budget at this summit, they will also want a a distracting controversy... It's easier to maintain a united front against Boris, than to agree to compromising the Single Market and legal order of the EU.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 9th, 2020 at 07:20:57 PM EST
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