Monday, 26 November 2018

"What have I done?" - is Theresa May channeling Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson?

In Bridge on the River Kwai, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson accepts the challenge of building a bridge in order to improve the morale of his men, to demonstrate British efficiency to their Japanese captors, and out of pride:...

...the prison commandant has treated Nicholson with brutal contempt, and Nicholson wants to place Colonel Saito humiliatingly in his debt. Building the bridge achieves all three objectives, but in doing it, Nicholson loses sight of the fact that completing the task, thus connecting Rangoon and Bangkok, will immeasurably strengthen Britain's enemies. Only at the very end does the British officer realise that vanity has led him to perform an act of treachery against his own country  

How is this different from the way Mrs. May has handled Brexit? Let's give her the benefit of the doubt by assuming that, when she became Prime Minister, she honestly intended to deliver the sort of Brexit voters expected, even if she herself didn't believe in it. At some point, or maybe over a period of many months, she somehow lost sight of the fact that she was supposed to deliver Brexit, and became convinced instead that what she had been asked to do was to deliver a Brexit deal. To her, Brexit now means a document signed by Britain and the European Union which states that Brexit has been - or will be - achieved. Posterity, she seems to believe, will judge her on whether such a deal was agreed, rather than on the contents of that deal. She evidently believes that if no such document is signed, she will judged to have failed her country - whereas, of course, if the deal currently on the table ends up being accepted by both parties, posterity will view her as an incompetent traitor who sold out her country by siding with its competitors. The only real debate will be over what in the name of God she thought she was doing.

Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson realised what a monumental fool he'd been at the very last moment, but I doubt whether Mrs. May is intelligent enough - either intellectually or emotionally - to realise just how shamefully she has behaved. 

As Major Clipton puts it at the end of Bridge on the River Kwai:


  1. Mrs May's repeated claims in the House on the Monday after the Chequers meeting and ever since that she is restoring the UK's sovereignty are simply lies.

    The fake newspapers sing her praises as a brave and dutiful crusader but it looks more like the mission of someone who has lost not only the ability to govern but even the will.

    Yours is the kindest and most imaginative attempt possible to see good in her treasonous actions but it won't do. This isn't a film and she's not an actor.

  2. Sincere question: what does Brexit mean? Does it have a settled meaning? I am sure that I recall Hannan promising all sorts of 'frictionless trade' - along with no-economic harm - and he was surely the apotheosis of Brexit-ness? And given the clarity (I can find no authoritative or convincing economic analysis that would indicate otherwise) regarding the economic harm that a 'hard' 'no-deal' Brexit would involve, isn't a deal better than no-deal?
    I do want to understand the world from the hard exiter's perspective. But as far as I can currently see, that perspective involves an acceptance that the 'national interest' is not only served - but is best served - by acts that entail negatively severe economic impacts.
    I daresay my comment is as welcome as a fart in a space suit - someone else's fart that is.