Running a Country on Rhetoric
Simon Kuper in the FT on the enduring flaws in the UK's workings:
"The first flaw is running a country on rhetoric. Brexit was made about 30 years ago at the Oxford Union — Oxford university's version of a children's parliament, which organises witty debates, and where future Brexiters such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were presidents in the 1980s. … The referendum was won like a Union debate: with funny, almost substance-free hot air. Remember Johnson's policy on cake: he was pro-having it, and pro-eating it. In Britain, humour is used to cut off conversations before they can get emotional, boring or technical.
"Oxford Tories built a cross-class alliance with the tabloids, a scaremongering force unique in western Europe. In 2002, their spectre was Saddam Hussein bombing Britain. In 2016, it was Turkey joining the EU. …
"after the referendum, the Brexiters were tasked with managing Brexit. This was like asking the winners of a debating contest to engineer a spaceship. Results have been predictable. The Brexiters cannot wow Brussels with rhetoric, because the EU's negotiators prefer rules. "That is a cultural difference," notes Catherine de Vries, professor of politics at Essex University."
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