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1. Another Sunday marooned on the desert island of pandemic and Brexit, I reflect once again on the burning question of our time:

Is the government’s appetite for no deal evidence of shambles and incompetence or is it a clever negotiating tactic that reveals a deeper plan?
2. Let’s take shambles and incompetence first.

In this line of argument, the government is so clueless that it might actually think no deal during a global pandemic is a good idea or at least not a really really bad idea.
3. At first blush, the evidence of incompetence seems compelling.

As an unamuse bouche I refer you to describing no deal as an ‘Australian deal’ (shudder).

Even a one thousand tweet thread would not be sufficient but instead perhaps consider the following...
4. Firstly, the government’s overall response to the pandemic, a sweeping arc of catastrophe ranging from tragedy to farce to the contact tracing app to really bad art house movies to the mutant algorithm.
5. Secondly, the PM’s performances at PMQs - it is difficult to imagine a more vivid encapsulation of not being very good at your job.
6. Thirdly, the grotesque but ever varied guignol-esque opera of this Brexit version, ranging from boy’s own adventure to absurdist farce to slapstick comedy to classical tragedy (fatal flaws abound)...
7. ... to reinvented 1970s drama (Minder) to horror (the horror the horror) to three times weekly soap opera to Cobra Kai (brilliant, sometimes unintentionally - a penetrating metaphor for our times).
8. Tiger King with no tigers and no king.
9. Ah yes, where was I? I am brought slowly and wearily to my main point - the world heavy weight champion argument for shambles and incompetence - in four short years the break-up of the UK has turned from outlandish possibility to realistic event.
10. The knock out blow.

But perhaps I am wrong.
I often am.

Perhaps there is method in the madness and we have mistaken Hamlet for Falstaff.

Or is it the other way round?
I get so confused.
11. But anyhap, in all the raving, it’s possible to discern a strategy, ironically, the madman strategy, that seeks to persuade the EU the Johnson administration is so cra-a-a-a-azy that not only is the UK prepared to self-destruct it will then do all manner of diabolical things.
12. The terrible arsenal of terrible things includes but is not limited to repudiating the withdrawal agreement and destroying the global financial system.

13. All of which will be presented in the camouflaged plumage of culture war, which, as everyone knows, is the new English favorite past time, soon to be as de rigueur as taking tins of baked beans on holiday ‘just in case’.
14. Whereas, IN FACT < makes another cup of coffee > none of this is true at all, and the UK really does want a deal because, contrary to appearances, everyone is IN FACT deeply thoughtful and rational.
15. ‘Please make it stop,’ I hear you cry out as you unfollow me.

‘But I’m almost done, only another twenty or so tweets,’ I reply.

And you say, ‘Dear god have mercy not that you old fool, Why, why WHY would any government put its people through this terrible torture?’
16. An exceedingly good question.


To answer this question, we must delve deep into the realm of Quantum Brexitology, the most arcane of Brexit studies, until now privy only to a small group of Brexit boffins.
17. It is not about the fish.

There is a much bigger fish to fry.
18. The purpose of the strategy is to achieve a deal but with as much optionality as possible for the domestic state aid regime that will be required.
19. The overall objective is for the government to retain as much optionality as possible to remake the state however it sees fit with as few external constraints as possible.
20. This is the grand plan of which the state aid furore is the tip of the iceberg.
21. Whether that’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing is far beyond the analytical capabilities of this washed-up old sage whose best days are lost in the mists of time.
22. So what is it then, shambles or diabolical plan? I rather suspect it is both, at the moment.

Either way, I leave you with this final optimistic thought.

Our best days are ahead of us.

A long way ahead.

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