Rise of robot lawnmowers key to Brexit, David Davis suggests in ‘Mad Max’ speech
The key message the Brexit secretary was trying to send was that Britain would not engage in a “race to the bottom” post-Brexit, unless it was a race to the bottom of the garden on his robot lawnmower, one assumes.
Instead Britain will lead a “race to the top,” argued Davis (his Icarus wings just out of sight), saying Britain will be committed to “meeting high standards after we leave the EU,” in trade, financial regulation, the environment and workers’ rights. All the exciting stuff that the EU used to keep an eye on.
It’s all very well saying what Britain would like to see happen, but as always it depends on one minor issue: whether Brussels wants to agree that British standards are up to scratch, and is willing to agree a trade deal as result.
Davis called for a forgiving trade deal (again), but it’s not a stretch to suggest that if Brussels waves goodbye with a hard Brexit, the good ship Britannia will have to throw all kinds of standards, tariffs and taxes overboard to avoid sinking to the bottom.
But don’t worry, because Brexit will not lead to a “Mad Max-style world straight from dystopian literature,” promised Brexit chief Davis. The people listening to this dreary speech in an echoey room may well have taken their chances in a post-apocalyptic world if it offered a quick route to the bar.
The messages were mixed, because Davis championed the EU by proudly talking about his robot lawnmower “made in Sweden, built in the north-east of England” – which frankly sounds a lot like a dystopian nightmare to this writer.
It was not the normal kind of speech you expect to hear from Davis, who usually keeps his audience on the edge of their seats with a heady mixture of hopeful fantasy and incredulous anger when actually pushed for things like details. The fantasy was present, it’s really the only thing British negotiators have at this point, but his calm demeanor was suspicious.
Head down, voice low, hair unruly (for a Tory) and the subject matter dry as a bone. Davis was clearly talking to the Eurocrats that hold Britain’s future in their hands, no one else would have the stamina to get through it.
The applause for Davis was at least bigger than what Boris Johnson got last week, although it’s possible people were just glad he’d stopped speaking.
His speech is the third in a series by ministers — dubbed “The Road to Brexit” — which will culminate in a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May. It hasn’t been confirmed whether they will be released as a boxset at a later date.
Three speeches in though, and still nobody knows what the government wants.
One of the issues for key British figures on Brexit is that the words that fall out of their mouths appear to bear little relation to what is happening in reality.
For example, it’s OK for Davis to keep saying that “we’ll [continue to] be a good partner” to the EU, but let’s be honest, a partner that hangs around only until it sees something better saunter past is hardly in a position to make those promises.
Will Britain remain “open, dependable and fair?” Davis rhetorically asked himself. “Yes” … apart of course from the new border restrictions, the deserting of its partners and the removal of rights for hard-working immigrants.
Still, with the robot lawnmowers on the march, none of it matters anyway.
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