I thought I’d send you a confidential briefing document, confidential because that way it’s sure to enjoy a wide readership. I’m a daemon, accredited with disseminating thoughtfulness and the like, although today I’m focusing on Lyssa, the personification of mad rage, currently finding expression in the Donald. Technically, she’s my half-sister because she was born of my Mum, Nyx, and the blood of Ouranos. I know, we Greek gods had some strange pedigrees. Incidentally, she also represents rabies in animals. Compared with rabies-infested countries, problems in your current posting could be quickly resolved. It doesn’t face an economic hard landing like China and Russia, the challenges confronting the EU or posed by jihadist terrorism – yet. A £1 billion grant would do nicely.
However, for the moment, eyes are focused elsewhere. As you can imagine, Mount Olympos’ ruling triumvirate met in emergency session on Wednesday after our switchboard was inundated with calls for divine intervention – as if anything is ever our fault. But you’ll want to know how to handle this trumped-up victory. All it needs is a little common sense. The other Donald, the European Council President, has already warned that utopian illusions are tearing Europe apart and that any attempt to force through more integration would be a grave mistake. Let’s hope he’s not two-faced.
It’s your boss, the President of the EU Commission, who encapsulates what’s gone wrong in Europe: “There’ll be no access to the internal market for those who don’t accept the rules – without exception or nuance – that make up the very nature of the internal market system.” He has a vision but his dogmatic ideas would be better filed in a pending tray, where the euro should have stayed until conditions were right. As Bismarck once remarked, Politics is the art of the possible. There are several other matters that have to be rather more adroitly addressed.
Migration is the most urgent. Generosity of spirit is beautiful but there’s no way Europe can successfully absorb millions of refugees or Britain hundreds of thousands of East Europeans without a severe – and logical – backlash. Social cohesion is a prerequisite for social stability. It’s bad enough that London is already the sixth largest French city. Common sense needs to be attached to free movement within the EU even if it means border controls and limits on numbers. Anyway, with jihadists lurking in every corner, the argument is already over and the EU has to change track.
The same is true for national decision-making. Few Europeans want more powers to be handed to the EU while a growing number wants powers repatriated. It has to be seriously considered – not dismissed with the wave of a Juncker hand – otherwise it becomes fodder for populist rantings. Even in a small place like Mauritius, the need to properly consult people locally is increasingly obvious, even if some bury their head in hotel sands.
Just as complicated is the replacement of people by machines – and outsourcing. Is there serious-enough consideration given to the broader impact and the full financial implications on society? Without it, there’ll be more politicians who suffer a less than hilarious fate. By the way, the mountain conclave ended on Thursday and a statement rapidly issued after a typical express leak: the unthinkable can happen. Brexit. Trump. There are never two without three or more. Marine Le Pen is waiting in the wings – and she’s not the only one.