Cats and Dogs

A recent article on chlorinated chicken featured Britain’s environment secretary, who resembles a plucked bird himself—that’s bad enough, but when delivered as a live feed by Andrew Sparrow, it becomes a punfest of the worst order.

In the US, a chlorine rinse is used to kill bacteria that thrive on the carcasses, whereas the EU impose rules that guarantee sterility in the slaughter process, dispensing with chlorine.

The British press, politicians, pundits, and other twerps, are up in arms about it all—there was an outcry a few days ago for the UK trade minister to eat a chlorinated chicken to prove it’s safe.

All this gets even sillier because the minister is called Fox, which leads us straight into another chicken punfest. Brexit, predictably, seems to be an exercise in complete confusion, and has turned into hours of harmless fun.

This is only true in the UK, however, where reporters fill pages with astoundingly amazing alliterations about bungling Brussels bureaucrats, whereas you will find it tough to see a byline on Brexit in Le Monde, Il Tempo, or Frankfurter Allgemeine.

But who cares, right? Most Brits couldn’t name a single foreign newspaper—the stupid things aren’t even written in English!

So it falls to the Maltese to assuage the masses and report on progress, since Malta currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU—and oh, how America envies a rotating presidency at this point, when what they have is a cabinet carrousel.

The Maltese prime minister went on the record with some interesting statements on the status of the EU-UK talks. He showed his political naivety by stating “I’m starting to believe Brexit will not happen.”

He compounded that by saying “the will of the people can have disastrous consequences, history teaches us; I could name some examples, but they’re so horrendous they’d raise the wrath of my British friends.”

Given the obvious reference to Nazi Germany, I’m surprised this wasn’t met with typical Etonian puerility, instructing the Maltese to go whistle, or worse than that, sing.

Spot the Bot. Another confused Brexiteer.

In any case neither statement does the process any favors—if there’s any chance of a rollback, it will be achieved by dilution. Britain justly earned its spurs as the perfidious Albion, and the only way to resolve this is through gentle amnesia.

The public memory is short, otherwise no politician would ever be re-elected, and the trick is to leave without leaving. A popular politician, and heaven knows they’re as scarce as the Yeti, can make that happen.

Since popular is a very different word to populist, let’s do a history check of some of the world’s great populists: Hitler and Mussolini, Amin, Saddam, Chavez, Pinochet, Mao. Unlike the US senate, I’ve tried to be bipartisan in my list.

Populism isn’t the path—the Trump, Farage, and Le Pen model is evidence enough, but a popular leader in the UK, which after all is the nation that gave us the phrase common sense, can persuade the country they will win by losing, rather than lose by winning.

Already, Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor, has confirmed the cabinet is united on a three-year transition period, which would leave matters pretty much as they are until 2022. By then, who knows what Europe will look like, and what further dementia will have struck in the United States, the Mid-East, and the Korean peninsula.

Our man from Malta goes on to question reports that Britain is unprepared for negotiation. He states “A non-prepared British government official simply doesn’t exist”. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Muscat, but in my time I’ve known more than a few.

He does however make another amazing statement.

The problem isn’t that London is prepared badly, but that the EU is prepared extremely well. That much became clear when Michael Barnier asked me, ‘Do you know how many cats and dogs travel from Dover to Calais every year? Do you know what’s to be done with the animal passport?’ Such detail! That’s when I knew: the EU is excellently prepared.

Apart from the fact the guy’s name is Michel, I believe everything Malta man says—the Brit love of animals, with or without chlorine, is not open to question.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

 

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