I think today will be the last Monday - at least for some time - that Boris Johnson's column appears in the Telegraph. His final appeal is for an end to the gloomy prognostications of failure, the hangdog jowls, the droopy bitter eyes, the negative vibes. When he moves into Number Ten, we can be sure at least he will not be dragged down by a depressive, negative neighbour - Hammond has already been pictured packing, and will be gone before Boris arrives. His main point is that fifty year ago we put a man on the moon. Solving an issue of a customs border in Ireland is piffle.
I've lost count of the times on construction schemes when I've been told it can't be done, it's impossible, the cost will be prohibitive. The reason I was picked to deliver so many 'difficult' schemes (and they are still trying to get me to do so - despite my strict instructions to my agent as to my very picky criteria for new work) I believe is that I had a reputation for being 'agile' at a time when the term wasn't even in the vocabulary of the management consultants. Usually all it took was a quiet and sympathetic chat with the boss of the engineering / design consultancy, telling them I understood if the task was too great for them, if they couldn't cope. There was no shame in it. We would arrange their quiet replacement by another practice. Fee-earning firms don't expect to be sacked - they expect their word to be gospel on the feasibility or not of some scheme aspect. Nine times out of ten it did the trick. You see, the task was very rarely impossible - more often the key consultants just didn't want to do it my way.
So I am with Boris on this. I've had a working lifetime of dreary dullards predicting failure and a lifetime's experience of proving them wrong. Boris writes
And I am afraid that there are technological pessimists – some of them apparently in London – who seem genuinely to think that such technical solutions are impossible, that they are a kind of logical contradiction, a mythological species that we will never see in this universe. Are they right? Of course not. There is abundant scope to find the solutions necessary – and they can and will be found, in the context of the Free Trade Agreement that we will negotiate with the EU (and this is common to both candidates in the current leadership contest) after we have left on October 31.For a final column, that's not bad.
It is absurd that we have even allowed ourselves to be momentarily delayed by these technical issues. If they could use hand-knitted computer code to make a frictionless re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Irish border. There is no task so simple that government cannot overcomplicate if it doesn’t want to do it. And there are few tasks so complex that humanity cannot solve if we have a real sense of mission to pull them off.