Why the "we will not surrender" attitude to Brexit is stupid, according to Jared Diamond 3 years ago

Why the "we will not surrender" attitude to Brexit is stupid, according to Jared Diamond

Surrender has multiple meanings.

It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly Jared Diamond is supposed to be an expert of.


The most common description by various publications is he’s a polymath, a person of wide knowledge or learning, so that doesn't exactly clear much up.

Diamond studied physiology at Harvard and Cambridge and became a leading expert on the gall bladder. He is also an ornithologist, anthropologist, sociologist, evolutionary biologist, ecologist and environmental historian with a working knowledge of archaeology, genetics and the epidemiology of human diseases, as well as professor of geography at UCLA.

The very qualified American joined Dion Fanning on Ireland Unfiltered recently where talk inevitably turned to what is happening in the UK.

At the time of writing, it's be 1,110 days since the UK voted to leave the European Union and there's still 114 days until the next deadline for Brexit on 31 October.


Two deadlines have been pushed back, no tangible agreement has been reached in parliament at Westminster, Theresa May is stepping down and it's looking like Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to replace her as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

Diamond's latest book, Upheaval, comes with a subheading of 'How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change’ that could have been written with the UK's Brexit saga in mind, because if all of the above doesn't constitute as crisis and change then it's difficult to ascertain what does.

Speaking on Ireland Unfiltered about Brexit, Diamond outlined one of the main reasons why drawing comparisons to World War II and military language does nothing but complicate things and make parties unwilling to negotiate correctly with one another.

"One of the problems in Brexit is that it has now turned into 'We must never negotiate with the EU. We must leave with no-deal, we will not surrender to their demands, we will not' and you know World War II imagery gets thrown around a lot there," Diamond said.


"So again it’s turned into something that is maybe counterproductive or even destructive.

"That is misusing the multiple uses of the word surrender. The word surrender has multiple meanings. There’s military surrender in which you have been defeated or you recognise you are about to be defeated and you surrender to a conqueror.

"There are also negotiations. It is a mistake to apply the word ‘surrender’ with its military context to negotiations. In any negotiation, if a negotiation between two parties, one party is happy and the other party is unhappy then you know that that’s been unsuccessful negotiation.

"A successful negotiation is defined as one where both parties are equally unhappy because neither party got everything that it wanted, both parties got something of what they wanted. To talk about surrendering to the EU is, with due respect, stupid," he said.


Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, will be available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube every Tuesday.