The horror, the horror, of No Deal
Has any September felt more “back to school” than this one? After six months of lockdown, home schooling, clapping for the NHS, empty trains, banana bread baking, Zoom calling and tumbleweed blowing through offices, the old realities are back with a bang. The biggest of these is No Deal Brexit.
In truth, the prospect of crashing out of the European Union with no agreement never went away. We just spent the last six months ignoring it while dealing with the more urgent issues of Covid19. Now the departure from the EU is resembling the journey to Mr Kurtz’s camp in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: “Nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight.”
Nobody I know is prepared for a no deal exit from the EU. There are three main reasons for this:
1. As a paid up member of the so called North London metropolitan elite, I mix almost exclusively with Remainers who cling to the hope that something will be done to avert this tragedy. BTW most of the leaders of British industry also fall into that camp;
2. The Government has said it won’t happen, specifically Boris Johnson said in 2017: “There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal”. Now he is saying: “No deal is a good deal for the UK”;
3. It is difficult to plan for something when you don’t know what it will look like. Business is going upriver into uncharted territory with no guidance, like Marlow in Heart of Darkness, brilliantly recast as Major Willard in Apocalypse Now. At one point Willard asks a stoned out US soldier to direct him to his commanding officer. “Ain’t you?” comes the answer.
Suddenly we have to “serious up”, as our American cousins say, albeit less politely. How do we communicate for eventualities which are both impossible to contemplate and only a few weeks away? Somebody has to write a guidebook and it can’t just a repeat of the famous Mr/Colonel Kurtz quote: “The horror, the horror.”