LIKE countless other folk, I enjoyed watching Deal or no Deal’, the TV quiz show hosted by Noel Edmonds.
It was a very simple concept. Based on a game largely of pure luck, contestants decided whether to accept the banker’s offer – deal – or continue in the hope of winning a higher cash prize – no deal.
I recall that, without exception, they were always guaranteed a rapturous reception when they decided ‘no deal’. Noel invariably called them ‘brave’ and praised them to the hilt – after all, it made for far better TV!
A few lucky people went on to win the £1m top prize. Very few. But far, far more eventually walked away with a good deal less than they rejected earlier.
I worked out that, if I was on the show, I’d accept the second or third offer – a low risk strategy but still guaranteeing a reasonable gain.
But most of us don’t like playing like that in this country.
We’ve become, like the contestants on the quiz show, obsessed with ‘winning’.
Whether it’s on the sports field or in work life, we want to grind our ‘opponent’ into the dust and come away victorious. The idea of justice, or playing the game, has been lost – we want a good result, not a fair one.
I wonder now whether this provides a clue to why the Sky TV and Channel 4 audience roared on Monday night when Prime Minister Theresa May boldly declared she was prepared for ‘no deal’ with the European Union.
Good old Theresa – she’ll show those Europeans, we’re going to win these negotiations, get a great deal for the UK and a bad one for them!
Of course, the analogy with the quiz show does begin to break down but I think we can all agree that the stakes are far greater in this real- life battle than on Noel’s show.
After all, the contestants gambled only with their own potential winnings, not ours. In stark contrast, Theresa May is putting our futures on the line, just as much as hers.
I’m no economist – never have been, never will be. The whole subject of money and profits turns me off to be quite honest.
But I get the basics and so should everyone else.
We are the ones leaving the European Union, not the 27. Whatever ‘deal’ we currently enjoy as members of the club – albeit heavily compromised by the huge amount we pay into it – has, by definition, got to be better than the one we can now hope to get.
Talks with the EU should therefore be conducted on the basis of ‘damage limitation’ rather than the doubtful assumption that we hold the balance of power.
It’s important to remember negotiations are paramount for the innocent ‘victims’ of Brexit, business people whose livelihoods depend or partly depend on their links with Europe.
Surely very few people who voted ‘leave’ – and I was one – want to see us make a clean break from Europe as a whole. My argument, certainly, was with the EU as an organisation, not ordinary working people in the 27 other countries. I don’t want to see UK people suffer any more than they have to, nor workers from outside our borders.
Again, I’m not in a good position to know the full implications of ‘no deal’.
But I’ll take an educated guess that they will be somewhere between very bad and totally disastrous.
If leaving the EU carte blanche and setting up our own tax haven is such a good idea why has nobody ever suggested we do it in the past?
Because it is, I presume, the losers’ last resort – the final derisory prize for the quiz contestant who has run out of luck and options.
Gambling in such a way can only make sense if the UK are holding all the aces – the EU needs us more than we need them. But is that the case?
Yes, we are the second biggest contributor to the EU and will be a considerable loss.
But there are 27 or them and only one of us and surely that is a factor too. The EU still, at this stage, wields considerable power and we treat it lightly at our peril.
So what happens if we either walk away from the table or sign a deal?
Presumably we go cap in hand to other countries outside of Europe looking for trade deals.
Ask yourselves – do you really want to see the UK desperately scraping on its knees to US President Donald Trump, the dealer of all dealers.
Much better if we approach them with the security of a deal with Europe in the bag and therefore still possess the cards to negotiate effectively.
This isn’t a TV show, it isn’t a football game, this is raw real life.
Can we honestly risk ‘no deal’ in the unlikely hope we will hit the jackpot elsewhere?
The acclaim of the audience is no comfort now to the contestants who went home all but empty-handed.
Those who applauded Mrs May on Monday won’t be keen on picking up the pieces should we go home with nothing