Number 10 continues to talk about an “Australian arrangement” as code for “no-deal Brexit”, which is analogous to the nuclear industry referring to radiation as magic moonbeams.
In the midst of an economically devastating pandemic, the prime minister is banging on about being “incredibly confident” that the UK will “thrive with or without a free trade agreement with the EU” without giving any indication of how that’s supposed to happen.
The godawful mess of test and trace? World-beating. We’re gonna have it. Super, smashing, great. Oh hang on, that was before Cummings quit. So are ministers finally going to admit it’s a shambles?
Nope. If they find themselves having to defend it publicly? Get set for more of the sort of Trumpian bluster the American people have just rejected.
Trumpism crashed and burned across the Atlantic when it careened into the reality of the pandemic and the economic tsunami that followed. The “blue wall” states that narrowly delivered Donald Trump the presidency; Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, decided they’d had enough and returned to the Democratic fold. It was tight, particularly in the case of the latter, but it was decisive. Arizona, and even Georgia, joined them.
The bleats and the lawsuits and the tweets continue but the game is up. The Trump train hit the buffers.
Johnson’s still has a lot of track; four years of it if his party doesn't engage in one of its periodic bouts of regicide (and it might). He shows no signs that he plans to divert from the same dead end, promising feasts while delivering famine en route, and then pretending that gruel is a three-course blow out at the Cinnamon Club paid for by a lobbyist.
It’s a curious way to proceed. Smart CEOs do the exact opposite. They’re not immune to trying to spin silk purses out of sow’s ears but they know it’s tough to pull off when everyone can see the numbers. They also like to temper the outlook part of their trading statements with caution so they can boast about exceeding expectations when it comes time to report results.
Were one of the savvier ones in Johnson’s position, they would now be talking about “challenging trading conditions” or some such.
That’s a phrase we’re going to be hearing a lot of from British companies that either export to or import from the EU. They’re going to be at the sharp end of the hard rain Johnson’s government is bringing down on the nation’s head while pretending it’s sunshine.
In a best-case scenario, they’ll be dealing with a suffocating tangle of bureaucratic red tape at customs as their trucks wait in the vast pile-up that threatens to scar Kent for months on end.
In the worst, they’ll have to handle the voluntary imposition of economic sanctions on its people by a British government that insists the nation is going to “prosper mightily” in the midst of an economic double whammy, one part of which is entirely self-created.
Of course, politicians aren’t CEOs. They need to gee up the voters, and you don’t do that by saying you’re “cautiously optimistic” when you’re making so much money that it’s embarrassing.
But it’s one thing to sepia tint the picture that you’re painting, quite another to pretend a bag of rocks is a pot of gold.
Pigeons sometimes take a little time to come home to roost. But they usually come home in the end. Presumably, Johnson’s next attempt to stave them off will be to blame the EU for the approaching crash (and there’s one coming even with the threadbare deal that now looks like a best-case scenario). A dip into the culture wars (another favourite of Trump’s) in an effort at deflection? That’s a possibility too.
But the endless game of blame-shifting is starting to get tiresome too. Trump’s finally finding that out. It’ll happen to his mini-me in the end.
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