The Brits’ approach is: ‘We’ve had a trading agreement for 40-odd years what do you want to change about it to implement Brexit?’
The Continentals’ approach is: ‘Let’s pencil in three days for the discussion on tariffs for Rumanian condoms.’
After 2,000 years of trading across the North Sea it looks absurd, in the 21st century, to have hundreds of bureaucrats sitting down to discuss the terms on which this trade should be conducted.
At the recent Downing Street dinner the Continentals pulled out copies of trade deals stretching to thousands of pages to impress the Brits with their complexity.
It didn’t work. Brits aren’t into complexity. Occam’s Razor is in a tradition of British pragmatic philosophy which inclines us to simplicity.
The Continentals, by contrast, love the complexity of anal detail. For them, a three day discussion on Rumanian condoms is a lip-smacking prospect of an opportunity to display their skills in nit-picking, hocus-pocus and jiggery-pokery.
So the Brexit negotiations are going to be an entertaining display of the clash of British and European cultures.