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Saturday, March 03, 2018

Decoding the politicians

It is rare for a politician to speak plainly, especially when the subject is one of huge contention in their party. We were lucky therefore to get any clarity at all from Theresa May's speech yesterday when she finally spelt out that the UK's access to the single market will be reduced after Brexit.

It was a speech nevertheless that sought to 'have its cake and eat it' as John Crace explains in the Guardian. In that regard it is unlikely to take us any further along in the negotiations with the EU. Many of May's red lines will have to be erased if she is to get a deal, not least those around the Northern Ireland border.

What struck me about John Crace's sketch however, was his highlighting of one particular phrase in the speech:

Having successfully spelled out at length all the reasons why leaving the EU was a terrible idea, May moved on to the details of how she planned to achieve her “Managed Ambitious Divergence”. Or MAD for short. Though what she really appeared to be doing was making a desperate plea to the EU for help. She wanted a customs union as long as it wasn’t called a customs union. She was happy with the European court of justice as long as it could be called the British European court of justice. So could the EU just accommodate her a bit and give her everything she wanted? And while they were about it, any ideas for resolving the Irish border problem would be gratefully received.

The idea that our approach to Brexit should be one of "Managed Ambitious Divergence" or MAD is such a gift to sketch writers and satirists that one has to wander if it was inserted into the speech by some malevolent aide without the Prime Minister's knowledge, as it is difficult to conceive of Theresa May having the wit to have done it herself .

In my day MAD as an acronym was attached to the nuclear arms race and stood for 'Mutually Assured Destruction'. Somehow it seems apt to resurrect it in this way.
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