The hyena’s view

hyenaI smiled at the reference to Theresa May’s “Chequers Brexit compromise plan“. Whether or not it is accurate to call it a “compromise” is open to debate. The term has overtones of a strong negotiating position which are inappropriate. It suggests that May has a range of options. It implies that she’s in a position to play a game of give and take. In reality, what came out of the Chequers meeting was, not so much a compromise negotiating position, more a reluctant and partial acknowledgement of how little scope for negotiation the UK Government has. It was a compromise only in the sense of hubristic delusion seeking an accommodation with harsh reality.

But it was the word “plan” which provoked most amusement. What was set out in the statement issued after the Chequers meeting doesn’t amount to a plan. We might call it a wish-list, but for the fact that the list contains so many things that are unwanted by and/or unacceptable to so many of the parties whose agreement is essential if the “plan” is to mean anything at all.

When Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell gave the ‘Chequers Accord’ a cautious welcome as showing some signs of a dawning appreciation of reality, I suspect what they had in mind was the final paragraph of the statement which pretty much accepts that the “plan” is going to fail. It is just so characteristic of the whole Brexit shambles that a document which purports to set out a firm negotiating position concludes by making it clear that nothing is firm at all. The list of demands is immediately followed by a declaration of readiness to retreat from those demands, or abandon them completely.

Donald Trump sees this. He is not a clever man. He is, however, possessed of a conscienceless animal cunning such as might allow even a person of low intellect to survive and prosper in business and, apparently, US politics. He is a quintessential bully who acquires the sensation and superficial appearance of strength by placing himself in opposition to weakness. He would not be where he is did he not have an unerring instinct for weakness in others. When Trump evidently regards the British political elite with the casual contempt of a predator for its prey, that is an assessment we can trust.

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