If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less,’ as Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty said to Alice in Through the Looking Glass.
Such fantasy now appears to be informing the UK Government’s foreign policy with our new prime minister, Theresa May, reassuring us that ‘Brexit means Brexit’.
As sound bites go, it’s a cracker – giving the appearance that the Government is in control of our destiny and committed to leaving the EU.
If we take a few seconds to consider the statement, however, its vapidity becomes clear: it’s quite simply the ultimate tautology. Its use is further proof that no contingency planning was undertaken and that the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU may be beyond the Government’s comprehension.
To be fair, the confusion isn’t confined to one side of the English Channel, with our European partners or antagonists (delete according to personal preference) also unsure as to how the withdrawal negotiations will proceed.
Indeed, Giuliano Amato, a former prime minister of Italy and the author of the infamous article 50 – the invocation of which by the UK Government will formally start the withdrawal process – has admitted that it wasn’t designed to be used. Instead, and somewhat ironically, he intended it to ‘be a classic safety valve that was there but never used’ or ‘like having a fire extinguisher that should never have to be used. Instead, the fire happened.
Ahead of the expected invocation of article 50 in 2017 and the launch of the negotiations, both sides have made telling key appointments ahead of what is increasingly likely to be an acrimonious process.
Ms May has appointed long-standing Euro-sceptic David Davis as secretary of state for exiting the EU at the head of the newly created Department for Exiting the EU.
Appointments on the EU side have been equally conciliatory, with leading federalist Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian MEP and former prime minster, having been appointed as the European Parliament’s point man.
The European Commission, the EU institution which is expected to lead the union’s negotiations, has appointed Michel Barnier, a former European commissioner for internal market and services and French politician, at the head of its Brexit team.
Meanwhile the future domiciliary and employment rights of the 30,000-plus European Economic Area qualified doctors and medical researchers in the UK is still unclear.
Securing these and other BMA priorities in the negotiated settlement isn’t quite Alice’s ‘six impossible things before breakfast’ but will be challenging.
We don’t share Humpty Dumpty’s flexible approach to language but we will follow Carroll’s advice and ‘begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop’.
Paul Laffin is BMA EU public affairs manager
My mum is an accounting lecturer and she said exactly the same thing about Humpty Dumpty! You might enjoy my book :) www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=sr_1_2