1/ If you don’t follow Brexit every day, here’s some advice. Let go of any illusions that this drama is about trade protocols, residency rights or the status of the Irish border. Brexit is the story of a proud former imperial power undergoing a mid-life crisis
2/ The rest of the world is left listening to Britain’s therapy session as they drone on about their ex-spouse, unable to see, admit or address their own flaws.
3/ The promise of Brexit was that it would make Britain feel big again. “Britain is special,” the Brexiteers assured British voters, who cast their ballots accordingly. But Brexit has proven that for the first time in modern history, Britain is small.
4/ The false comforts of a nuclear submarines and a U.N. veto (and, ironically, EU membership) tricked Britain into thinking it knows how to negotiate with a much larger partner: it has no clue how to conduct diplomacy as the newly minted club-less middle power that it is.
5/ Accustomed to issuing colonial diktats and chucking liberal bombs into the EU pond, knowing it would only ever be treated like a naughty child, the country has no idea about the give and take of real negotiations.
6/ Britain couldn’t even hire its own trade negotiator: the shortlist consisted of an Australian, a Canadian and a New Zealander. That is not the start of a joke. That is the joke.
7/ Britain’s political and journalistic classes are simply unused to having to consider the opinions of others. It’s no wonder the rest of the country is clueless about what they’ve walked into.
8/ I wish I could say this was surprising (i guess the depth of the mess is), but I’ve spent my life in the shadow of Britain’s identity complex: as an Australian who worked for the U.K. government, the EU and now as a journalist covering Brexit. So, no real surprise
9/ While many Brits have strong emotions about the EU, they rarely have a strong understanding. I feel like a kindergarten teacher nearly every time I speak on the issue
10/ But while Britain’s media were the original misinformation machine about the EU, long before we had Macedonian troll factories and Russian bots. Other Britons don't deserve a free pass: millions consumed those fibs + spineless politicians avoided hassle of correcting them
11/ Given we blame Greeks for blowing up their economy and hold accountable big-spending governments for saddling future generations with excessive debts. It’s time Brits reckoned with what they sowed through 45 years of shallow EU debate.
12/ It is Britain’s unique ignorance that makes Britain so boring. Nothing tells the story better than the sad stop-start diplomacy of Theresa May. The prime minister is an appropriate leader for a shrinking Britain — vague, inconsistent and improvised
13/ May’s frequent mad dashes across Europe underline how the U.K. lost the negotiation before it had begun. She flies across the Continent with fanfare, but only driven by domestic pressures — not a desire to find common ground with those on the other side of the table.
14/ Meanwhile, EU negotiators have laboriously and quietly toured every capital, building up their united front before the talks started. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier could find himself locked in a thousand black cars, and it wouldn’t matter: He’d step out smiling every time
15/ Britain’s political contortions are symptoms of an almost willful lack of understanding: The U.K. doesn’t know what it wants from the EU, and doesn’t really know what it wants from getting out.
16/ Britain for decades demanded and won special deals from the EU as a member, and now it thinks it deserves another favor on the way out. How dare the Iittle Irish stand up for themselves and disagree: don’t they know who we are?
17/ Today Britain wants things it already has (frictionless trade with the EU), without continuing to pay the price other EU members pay to have it (the legal, economic and political constraints that come with EU membership).
18/ Balancing competing interests is difficult enough for individual countries. Look at U.S. Congress, the German federal system, or even the mighty French presidency trying to cope with the yellow vest street protest movement. Doing the same across 27 countries is much harder.
19/ 28-way negotiations take time, and any sudden sharp policy change has the potential to disrupt the EU’s equilibrium. The deal on offer is the best London is going to get — simply because it is the best Brussels is going to be able to offer.
20/ And yet, cheered on by two ex-U.K. Brexit negotiators who barely bothered to show up in Brussels and negotiate, British politicians are lining up like whiny children to demand the remaining 27 EU countries make amendments to the Brexit deal.