Joris Luyendijk

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‘Building up pro-Brexit politicians and stoking divisions.’ Section of the Daily Mail front page, 4 November 2016. Photograph: Daily Mail

Seventeen years ago Theresa May stunned her fellow Conservatives by telling their annual party conference that they were “just plain unattractive”. The Tories, she said, had become “the nasty party”. Today, from where I sit in western Europe, Britain itself looks just plain unattractive. It seems to have become “the nasty country”. I’m not saying the British people are any worse, or any better, than any other Europeans. I am saying its ruling political party is nasty, as is much of its press. The leader of the Conservative party, and therefore the prime minister, is a man who has personally taken nastiness to an entirely new level, yet is the country’s most popular politician.…  Seguir leyendo »

European council president Donald Tusk shows Theresa May’s letter invoking article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon treaty. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

As Britain formally notifies the EU of its intention to leave it is essential for Brits and Europeans alike to be aware of what is about to start. Both sides tend to speak of a “divorce”, while some British commentators compare the coming negotiations to a “game of chicken”.

These figures of speech are deeply misleading as they feed into a narrative that the UK is still a world power able to shape the circumstances it finds itself in – if not to dictate its terms outright. To see how much this line of thought is still alive, consider how Britain spent the past nine months discussing whether it preferred a “soft” or a “hard” Brexit.…  Seguir leyendo »