intransigence   43

The Mass Psychology of Brexit
Balint’s distinction has an obvious application to Brexit. The Leave camp tended to cling to such objects as the nation, the community, the family and friends but also race: people ‘like us’. The Remain camp sought out the wide open spaces of the global market. At least, that’s how things look at first sight. But in the course of this prolonged, irresponsible experiment in group psychology, a strange inversion occurred. The Leave campaign, originally motivated by security and familiarity, turned into the de facto proponent of risk – as tariffs, trade deals, waiting lines, passports, ancestral obligations and the like were thrown open to renegotiation. Meanwhile the Remain campaign, originally motivated by the exciting horizons of the continent, was drawn back to the comfort of the status quo ante. Each group found its unconscious in the other.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  England  history  empire  exceptionalism  disaster  MayTheresa  intransigence  failure  narcissism  O'TooleFintan  BalintMichael  Leave  Remain  object-relational  psychology  LRB 
20 days ago by petej
The EU knows it, so do our own MPs – Theresa May is finished | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian
The bankruptcy of May’s overseas enterprise has been coming since the day she set up shop in No 10. The squandering of credibility started almost at once, with the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in 2016. Only someone with a tin ear for European sensibilities would have given the top diplomat job to a man known on the continent as a rogue peddler of anti-Brussels propaganda.

Then there was the early negotiating period, during which EU leaders thought May’s robotic, inscrutable manner concealed a deep, strategic intelligence. They came to realise that there was no mask. The inanity – the reciting of “Brexit means Brexit” even in private meetings – was not the cover story for a secret plan. It was the plan.

The point of no return was the summit in Salzburg last September. May was invited to make the case for what was left of her “Chequers plan” to European heads of government. It was late. They were tired. There were other difficult matters to attend to. And instead of speaking candidly, persuasively, passionately or even just coherently, the British prime minister read mechanically from a text that was, in substance, no different from an op-ed article already published under her name in a German newspaper that morning. It was embarrassing and insulting. Many European diplomats say that was the moment when Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and others realised they were dealing with someone out of her depth, unable to perform at the level required for the job that needed doing.

A similar story is emerging from last night’s summit. May was asked about backup plans in the event that parliament rejects her deal a third time. She had nothing. She restated her determination that the deal should pass. This infuriating obtuseness is grimly familiar on this side of the Channel. Cabinet ministers recognise the experience of being desperate for some glimpse of the prime minister’s calculations. People who want to support her have needed some window into the workings of her political brain, maybe just a peek at her soul. They get nothing. It is hard to build trust with someone so closed and hard to stay loyal.

There was a Salzburg-style moment for pro-European Tories on Wednesday night, when the prime minister went on television to berate MPs for obstructing her deal. The spirit was demagogic, even if the style was typically charmless. Here was a besieged leader, emerging from her bunker, presenting herself as the champion of her people against a rotten parliament. This did not go down well with MPs of any stripe. But it was most counterproductive with moderate Conservatives who have voted for May’s deal twice already and both times seen her respond to defeat by borrowing ideas and rhetoric from the hardliners who have given her nothing but humiliation. She rewards enemies of compromise by becoming ever less compromising.
UK  EU  Brexit  EU27  Article50  extension  noDeal  softBrexit  referendum  PeoplesVote  MayTheresa  leadership  summit  intransigence  incompetence  failure  politics  dctagged  dc:creator=BehrRafael  EuropeanCouncil 
4 weeks ago by petej
Theresa May has trashed our democracy and put MPs in danger | Lisa Nandy | Opinion | The Guardian
Yesterday in parliament I spent several hours, with my colleague Gareth Snell, trying to reassert those principles of democracy and find a route through this nightmare, by guaranteeing a role for parliament in the next stages of Brexit negotiations; we were trying to ensure that once the withdrawal agreement is passed we end this desperate tug of war and begin the messy, hard business of compromise and the search for common ground. A few hours later, the prime minister stood up inside No 10 Downing Street and trashed our democracy. She is not fit to be prime minister, does not deserve the support of MPs, and she will not get it.
UK  EU  Brexit  MayTheresa  DowningStreet  speech  intransigence  blame  Parliament  threats  discourse  democracy  populism  LabourParty  dctagged  dc:creator=NandyLisa 
4 weeks ago by petej

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