Evan Stark defined coercive control as a pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away an individual’s liberty and to strip away their sense of self. The Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiations have shown that she has been “subjected to a pattern of domination that includes tactics to isolate, degrade, exploit and control”.
In a recent report for Briefings for Brexit, I discussed four possible views about our enigmatic Prime Minister’s approach to the Brexit negotiations.
The first is to take her at her word that she is “just getting on with the job” and simply wants to minimise any disruption to trade after Brexit, having listened to the reasoned views of the CBI and the Institute of Directors. The PM’s world view is simply that there cannot be “no deal”, and so she had to take charge singlehandedly, bypassing the Ministers notionally in control. She acted in exactly the same way over the divorce bill and over the negotiations leading to the Joint Report last December. She agreed to pay £39bn in the hope the EU would be nice to us when it came to trade negotiations. She also conceded the Irish backstop which has come back to haunt us – possibly for ever more.
The second view is that the PM is in reality the “Manchurian Candidate”, a Remainer who is going through the motions of working towards Brexit (“Brexit means Brexit” plus the Lancaster House, Florence, Mansion House and Munich speeches), but has been secretly working to defeat Brexit. Deception is a key companion to this view. Take two examples.
First, she always refuses to answer how she would vote if there was another referendum. Second, the Chequers White Paper on the UK’s future relationship with the EU must have been months in the making in complete secret with dozens of civil servants involved – in total deception of the civil servants at the Brexit Department. Mrs Merkel was shown the White Paper before the British Cabinet.
The third view is that she is suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome and has developed an empathy for her EU “captors”. They occasionally let her out in public to give the pretence of normality. But you can see the discomfort on her face whenever this happens. And always lurking in the background is the creepy Jean-Claude Juncker, ever ready to pounce and slobber all over her whenever it looks as though she is going to say something out of line.
The fourth view is that she is simply incompetent and out of her depth as Lord King, former governor of the Bank of England, implies.
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