Opinion: Liz Truss' Stilton Stance Shows The Pettiness Of Brexit Britain
To any unassuming Twitter user, the fact that #stilton was trending earlier this morning may just seem a normal occurrence with people voicing their views on cheese, but when you read into it a bit more, there's something altogether more cheesy about it. It's no secret that the Brexit deadline is approaching in a matter of months and the Government in a rushed trade deal with Japan would appear to be trying to get something over the line. However, news reached me this morning thanks to #stilton that talks have stalled due to Liz Truss' stance on cheese as a deal-breaker in any negotiation.
It's understandable that as a nation we wish to get a better deal for our exported produce as it'll help with extra funds generated through an export-led revenue stream, but Liz Truss' insistence that stilton should be a central focus appears to sum up the pettiness of plucky little Britain in marking ourselves out as a perceived leader in absolutely anything. We're relying on past glories a bit too much as over the last few decades and centuries, we've stopped being the world leaders in everything from manufacturing to the Navy. As Yonden Lhatoo pointed out in an article in the South China Morning Post, "Britain is a legend in its own mind, and, to a great extent, the world lets it carry on dancing to its delusional beat of grandeur. Like allowing the country to keep its permanent seat in the UN Security Council, a privilege that is obviously based more on legacy than merit."
There is a harsh reality that a lot of Britons will have to come to terms with - we're not as great of a country as the name may suggest when applied to successes. Once the runaway leaders in the world Premier League Table, now we're left languishing in mid table maybe flirting with the prospect of relegation, having had several terrible managers since the glory days of continental qualification several decades ago. Think of Britain nowadays as equivalent to Nottingham Forest - the glory days of Brian Clough have long since faded away by the sands of time, but it's still nice to remember they happened. These days we're less productive than the French and the Italians and the homegrown British car industry that we used to rave about so much in decades gone by has since been reduced to a few hard-working blokes in sheds. What does that tell you about the last few decades of apparent progression?
Still, little Brexit Britain marches on, bleeding out from various wounds, and although the end is in sight in December of this year, Truss' stilton stance has the potential to cause this Japanese deal to drag on longer than its originally projected signing of the end of this month. We're determined to do it the British way, and if the Japanese don't like it, I'm sure Truss would have great pleasure in telling one of the world leaders in technological innovation where to go. We're hell-bent on getting a better deal than the Japanese already had with the EU, despite the fact that Japan has long since argued that they can't give us a better deal. Britain's jingoistic attitude has done us no favours thus far and with Truss' red, white and certainly blue cheese board firmly thrusted in front of her Japanese counterpart, it looks like we're flogging a very dead horse. The most startling of facts however is the sheer scale of her pettiness. It's more of a symbolic concession to keep pushing the cheese further towards the face of Japanese officials. There's something almost Alan Partridge-like in her insistence - see the GIF below for further details. In fact, the entire scene of Partridge asking for a second series is most likely what Truss watched on the plane over to Tokyo, attempting to bask in her own cheese-driven magnificence. Over the course of last year, Britain sold a grand total of £18m worth of blue cheese to the world, £102,000 of which went to Japan. Even then, a milder version of blue cheese is created for the Asian markets and as you can see, the demand for blue cheese from Britain in Japan is sky high. Truss' obsession with cheese-related trade is nothing new however. At the 2014 Conservative Party conference, she famously told a bemused crowd that "We import two-thirds of our cheese: that is a disgrace!".
The win-at-all-costs attitude that the current Conservative government are purveying at the moment isn't actually doing them any favours. By going all out Wallace and Gromit in trade talks with Japan, Ms. Truss hasn't exactly bathed herself in glory here, and with the Johnson Administration appearing weaker than a poorly-made footbridge, it doesn't exactly spell out any hope for the future of an apparently marvellous nation.