David Davis and the suicidal robot – a Brexit parable

Brexit continues to hang over everything, soaking up money, promise and resources which could be spent on advancing the country. The Brexit case unravelled further by the day, but David Davis seemed unperturbed as he resiled step-by-step from the promises, express or implied, made before the referendum.

There is the stench of national death in the air, its symptoms ranging from lost jobs and lost opportunities down to pollution of public discourse such as we have never seen.

The picture of Death comes from Terry Gilliam’s Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Death makes several attempts to kill Munchausen as the film progresses, apparently succeeding at the end. It was but a play, it appears, “only one of the many occasions on which I met my death” the Baron says.

Gilliam’s Munchausen has a fantastical plot in which apparently certain doom is constantly averted by good fortune and the powers of the Baron’s skilful sidekicks.  Brexit has the apparently certain doom, but Baroness Mayhausen has only the illusions and none of the skilful sidekicks – only David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox.

The air is thick with the possibility that the UK will, at the end, evade Brexit. One measure of that is the increasingly shrill and nasty shouting from the Brexiteers who, without any economic argument, fall back on abuse. You get a flavour of their intellectual force from tweets like this:

This tide of stupidity was met with answers like this:

 

David Davis patronises the House of Lords

How did a patronising oaf like David Davis get anywhere near control of our destiny? In one short appearance before the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, he described Michel Barnier as “quite a principled man” and said “For a lawyer, Baroness Kennedy, you are being very vague” (that’s Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, QC, FRSA that this sugar salesman was insulting).

David Davis brought to the committee that curious mixture of the contempt for doubters which is endemic among Brexiteers and his usual look of one trying to explain why he is five hours late home.

He also said this:

if enough American banks in particular say that they are going to go to Paris — good luck to them — or Frankfurt, even better luck to them.

How much tax income, quite apart from anything else, is Davis flushing away with these careless statements and positions?

Boris Johnson tells the EU to “go whistle”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the EU Brexit negotiators could “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay a large sum to leave. He also said that there was no plan to leave the EU without a deal. Davis promptly contradicted the latter. The former was met with disdain by Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, who said “I’m not hearing any whistling… just the clock ticking”.

Steve Bell put it like this:

Digby Jones weighs in

At about the same time, Digby Jones, Lord Jones of Birmingham, tweeted optimistically about trade deals with the US and Australia which were, he said, “in the bag”.

Deluded or dishonest? It is hard to tell in the face of bollocks like this. David Allen Green dismembered the assertion scientifically.

I remember meeting plain Mr Digby Jones as he then was, in the 80s. As we were waiting for him to come into the room, a colleague said “Why does one always expect that businessmen from…”. No, perhaps I won’t go there – while not of the “woodpile” variety, the story contains at least two -isms which are no longer deemed in good taste. Jones turned out to be the living embodiment of my colleague’s impolite generalisation.

Every day a new back-track

Every day, it seems, uncovers some new implication of leaving the EU which was not considered even by the Leave promoters, still less by those who casually ticked Leave at the referendum.

We are apparently leaving Euratom, which earns us billions, employs large numbers of people, and keeps our place in the world of atomic development. Ministers already talk of associate membership but that will, apparently, cost us more than the status quo.

David Davis casually let slip that the UK would concede both a large exit Bill paid to the EU and continuing payments after Brexit. As the common, and by now rather tired, quip has it, you didn’t see that on the side of the bus before the referendum.

Labour plants its flag here….or here…or somewhere

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked whether Labour was in favour or not of remaining in the single market and customs union – the biggest single issue of our time. One can understand why, as a political matter, Corbyn declined to give an answer – for as long as he sits on the fence, he can play the people, particularly the young people, who have shielded their eyes from the conflict between Corbyn’s spending plans and his support for Brexit. At a time of crisis, this as an act of gross political irresponsibility.

We know what position Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell takes on Brexit:

Oh, sorry, wrong picture – that was McDonnell’s position last October. He is in favour of a hard Brexit this week, apparently.

McDonnell also casually offloaded Labour’s commitment to axe university fees:

I guess that commitment saw Labour through the election – who knows how many impressionable youngsters cast their vote on the strength of that promise?

Tony Blair plays Cassandra

Tony Blair pushed aside the door of his crypt to warn of the risk posed by Brexit followed by a Corbyn government. The combination would, he said, put the UK “flat on its back”. He is, of course, right. The Labour left loathe the man who gave Labour three election victories in succession, and nothing unites them faster than hatred of Blair. Little Owen Jones, like a poodle doing tricks for his master, had this to say:

A school debating society would be embarrassed by this level of debate. To engage with Blair’s arguments would help clarify what Labour stands for in the Brexit arguments but that would expose the fact that Labour is not itself clear what it stands for and, indeed, sees an interest in obscuring its position.

Lord Adonis invokes Hitler

Lord Adonis said that a hard Brexit was as bad a political decision as the appeasement of Hitler. It is not actually a bad comparison – the government, reflecting the opinion of the majority of its citizens, doing what seemed at the time to be the right thing in European relations; there might even be an implied hope in the comparison that we would realise our mistake in the nick of time and resile from that position. Adonis ought to know better, however, than to invoke Hitler as a comparison for anything in politics.

The assertion brought out the stupid in droves. Steven Woolf, the UK MEP best known for his fist-fight with a fellow MEP, expanded what Adonis had said by bringing in genocide as well. Iain Duncan Smith, semi-finalist in the contest for the most stupid person ever to hold government office (Angela Leadsom is the clear winner at the moment) was “astonished and appalled that someone who considers himself to be intelligent should have selected such a comparison”. IDS seemed uninhibited by the fact that he once praised Boris Johnson for invoking a similar comparison.

The Repeal Bill: who will wield its powers?

The government published its Repeal Bill, designed to effect a smooth transition by preserving laws and regulations which owe their efficacy to our being in the EU. It was instantly condemned, not just for appearing to make light of the task ahead, but for the unprecedented transfer of powers from Parliament to the executive. No-one seems to have thought through the worst of it – by the time this transfer of powers takes effect, Corbyn may be Prime Minister and John McDonnell Chancellor of the Exchequer.

What could you not do on the path to socialist nirvana with powers like that? Corbyn already talks of expropriating property; McDonnell says that Grenfell Tower victims were “murdered by political decisions”. McDonnell, of course, knows a thing or two about people who murdered others for political reasons – he has their phone numbers, birthdays etc.

Putting the con into conspiracy

The Tory Party began to look like Carry On Julius, as conspirators ranged against Theresa May and against Philip Hammond, the only grown-up in the room. Here’s David Davis working out exactly where to plant his dagger:

Davis and Johnson circled each other like jackals round a pending corpse, making common cause in spreading stories about Hammond. A Hammond comment about the cost of public sector pay – a manifesto topic and a proper subject for a Chancellor of the Exchequer – became “Hammond says public sector overpaid”. Whatever Hammond said about women driving trains, it seems very unlikely that this colleague of some successful women and father of daughters would say that “even a woman can drive a train”. The gullible and the stupid, along with people who ought to have known better, swallowed it all and piled their scorn on Hammond, just as Davis had planned.

What is disconcerting is seeing intelligent people, people whose worst nightmare would be Johnson or Davis as PM but who won’t vote for Corbyn’s Labour, becoming eager collaborators in the plot to discredit Hammond. Do they stop and think, I wonder, about the implications of a Johnson or Davis victory?

A character reference for David Davis

David Davis got some compliments from Dominic Cummings – Davis is “thick as mince” and “lazy as a toad” Cummings said. Cummings was the Director of Vote Leave who had the idea of plastering lies on the side of a bus to win the referendum, so you would not take his word for everything. I’m never sure, either, why mince is chosen as a measure of stupidity. The sentiment won wide acceptance, however, and you can perhaps see why:

Mr Davis goes to Brussels

David Davis went to Brussels for a quick chat with his opposite number, Michel Barnier. Much hilarity ensued from the resulting pictures, with comparisons drawn between Barnier’s well-prepped looking team and Davis’s apparent lack of papers. It was but a photo-op it seems, but whoever advises the government on media matters seems to have missed the point – the key part of “photo-op” is the “op” bit.

A poky little room. A wide-boy with a spiv’s grin and con-man’s eyes – what does that remind me of? Oh yes:

Most of us only come across people like this at motor showrooms, estate agencies and when the builder sucks through his teeth before explaining why it’s gonna be a big job, a lot of work, could do yer a deal for cash, know wot I mean?

Unscarred by his earlier brush with social media. Digby Jones came back for more – and got it, from me among others:

What does all this look like to Michel Barnier and the 27 states / 500 million people he represents?

Ben Jennings saw it like this:

Dave Brown gave us this:

We are stuffed, aren’t we? Represented by clowns and shysters on the world stage, each of them more concerned about his or her own career than the national good. Rot the lot of them.

Was anything amusing?

There is always someone around to give lifestyle guidance on sex. “What is holding you back from having your ideal orgasm right now?” someone asked, and this was the best answer.

Someone else countered by suggesting that she move further back in the bus.

Two Russian policemen argued over which of them would give a ticket to a large bear riding without a helmet in the side-car of a motor-bike

 

A robot security guard said goodbye to this cruel world:

Given a task, the robot plods along a pre-destined path without thought, neither noticing nor caring that disaster lies in the way. Let’s call the robot “Davis”; the Article 50 negotiation is the pre-destined path; the disaster is Brexit.

Cartoons the property of their respective artists, acknowledged in the text. Tweets belong to the named tweeters. Video assumed to belong to the organisation(s) named on its slate.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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