Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Talleyrand and Brexit

My first reaction on seeing that George Tregfarne had published an article on CAPX about  Talleyrand and Brexit was

"What did he mean by that?"

(This was the supposed response of European statesman to the news that the brilliant statesman and arch-survivor who served five consecutive regimes in France from the French Revolution through Napoleon and the Bourbon restoration had finally died.)

But the point of the article is that Talleyrand's doctrine of legitimacy is the best way through to successful Brexit. This is described in the article as “all sides should, for a moment, put aside their demands and start from the position: 'How do we achieve a legitimate outcome, which will be practical and be widely accepted?'”

Talleyrand wrote: “The spirit of the times in which we live demands that in great civilised states supreme power should only be exercised with the consent of bodies drawn from the heart of the society that it governs.”

Tregfarne points out that Brexit is not a single event, but a process which will take years and that whether it is a success or not depends on numerous actions to be taken over decades. Many of those actions will be taken long after Mrs May has left government and nor will they all be taken by those he calls "the gerontocratic revolutionaries who lead the Labour Party."

We need to take a long-term view. The people who called on Theresa May to reach out across the political divide and try to form a consensus on Brexit were right - and it is a pity that when she did so the call was rebuffed by the Labour party and used as an opportunity for point-scoring while it was taken as a sign of weakness by the press.


Anonymous said...

It is a sign of weakness. When the Maybot had a majority she didn't want consensus she wanted to smash the opposition, and look what the people thought of that. The "reaching out across the political divide" is the cynical actions of a week leader and everyone can see through it.

Chris Whiteside said...

In the week after the election my FB timeline was full of people from the Lib/Dems and the more constructive wing of the Labour party encouraging Theresa May to try to reach out to form a broader cross-party consensus on how Brexit should happen.

I thought those posts made quite a bit of sense.

Unfortunately the adversarial nature of British politics meant that when she actually listened the majority of the response was the kind of point scoring of which the post above is an example.

Anonymous said...

Did the Maybot "reach out" when she had a majority?

Chris Whiteside said...

I didn't find her approach to Brexit in parliament between her becoming PM in 2016 and GE2017 to be particularly partisan, so IMHO the answer is yex.