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It would be somehow fitting to have Noel Edmonds as referee in the forthcoming barney between Davis et al and the EU. There is a missing comic element. I say that because however it goes, after all the thrusting and posturing, we will end up with 99% of the same laws and rules that the tabloid press has been screaming against for years.

The tragedy that Monsieur Juncker speaks of is that among this sound and fury, signifying nothing, there will be a loser and it is likely to be us. We are critically misinformed about what the EU actually is and what it does. He says:

‘Brussels’ should not have been constantly blamed in British political discourse for things for which the EU is not responsible.

The Blamer is a resistance to anxiety adopted en masse by the tabloid press. The idea is that if things aren’t going too well, if you can’t afford much, if your job is in danger, if you feel powerless, it isn’t your fault: others are to blame, so you can calm your fears by shouting at your ‘persecutors’.

Favourites for ‘blame’ are:

  1. The European Union
  2. Immigrants
  3. Terrorists
  4. Muslims – or other representatives of different beliefs or values, from hippies to marxists
  5. Left wingers
  6. Liberals
  7. Experts and Intellectuals
  8. Globalisation

These are the things to blame for the fact that things have gone awry in your region, work-place, family, self-esteem, business or industry. To an extent there is some merit in these arguments: there are forces outside our immediate control that affect our well-being.

But there are many more within our personal sphere of influence.

Have we simply failed to notice and adapt to the changes all around us?

For years now we have been hearing of the Information Age and the idea that it will replace the Industrial Age. What we make and sell now is information, ideas, creativity, networks, expertise, research, new perspectives. This is what makes sense of Blair’s (yes, he’s one of the people to blame too), “Education, education, education” as he came to power in 1997. That is nearly 20 years ago. When I went to Uni in 1965, only 8% of my fellows did too. Now it is more than 40% and resoundingly these educated youngsters voted to stay. Have we encouraged our young people into long years of education & testing only to deny the results of their acquired knowledge?

Should we add young idiots, impressed by ‘book learning’ to the list of those to blame too?

To Article 50: if we are pressed into discussing the divorce settlement first, our press will go into Blamer hysterics. It will not be acceptable to pay anything to ‘Johnny Foreigner’ who is the cause of our woes. The press will literally defy May to cough up, accusing her of ‘betraying the will of the people’.  They will rant against accepting any obligations and the No Deal option will harden. Secretly the press are terrified of propitiating a huge bill we cannot afford without any arrangements in place to pay it off (i.e. no trade agreements). So they will scorn and deride it, so that it must be rejected and No Deal becomes more likely, depending on the EU’s resolve.

It is my fervent hope that our negotiators will have ‘gamed’ this eventuality and proposed mitigations, compromises and prolonged discussions as a way of keeping the possibility of a deal afloat. But in my heart i doubt it: this may be the biggest, earliest opportunity to justify Brexit – and blame the unreasonableness of the EU – to push us into launching our wee boat into the big, wide world, alone, leaving our former friends scratching their heads on the shore.