web analytics

New book reveals Le Carré’s bleak view of post-Brexit world 

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, January 3rd, 2020 - 5 comments
Categories: boris johnson, Donald Trump, International - Tags: , , , , ,

John le Carré’s 26th book, Agent Running in the Field, which, according to the publishers, is David Cornwell’s (le Carré’s real name) take on Brexit, suggests a dystopian future for European liberal democracies in a post-Brexit world.

Sadly likely to be one of his last, given le Carré is nearing 90, the master spy writer remains not just a peerless story-teller but also, as one reviewer noted, “the pre-eminent cartographer of international malfeasance”.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War may have extinguished the backdrop for the George Smiley series that bought le Carré fame, but he has since found no shortage of nefarious activities in the West to chronicle, including big pharma, private offshore banking and arms dealing, together with the squalid role governments and their spy agencies play in such activities.

 Agent Running in the Field was, according to Guardian reviewer Robert McCrum, motivated by le Carré’s despair and disbelief at what the protagonist, Brit spook Ed Shannon, calls the “unmitigated clusterfuck” that is Brexit – Britain’s act of self-immolation in which “the British public is being marched off a cliff by a bunch of rich, elitist carpetbaggers posing as men of the people”.

To what extent Ed’s views represent le Carré ’s own is unclear, but he is on record as stating that all his characters contain elements of himself. He has long been an outspoken critic of both the unfettered greed of neo-liberalism and of the radical shift in US foreign policy since 9/11. In 2003, as George W. Bush and Tony Blair were hell-bent on leading the West to its insane foray in Iraq, he penned an essay titled: “Has the US Gone Mad?”

When the Evil Empire of Soviet communism collapsed, le Carré’s focus switched from ideology towards the effect of money and greed on politics. His genius has always been to realistically capture a tawdry espionage service in a dysfunctional Britain desperately clinging to the last vestiges of old Empire Britain’s former power.

Constant themes that dominated the Smiley series remain in his all his canon – the ongoing decrepitude and impotency of Britain together of course with betrayal – particularly the treachery of the born-to-rule class. He is obsessed with sell out and the enemy within.

Given le Carré , like Graham Greene, has displayed prescient accuracy about numerous international events or trends, including the disaster that Iraq became, his insights on Brexit, Trump and Putin as expressed through the two main protagonists, Ed and SIS veteran Nat, are worth some analysis.

Ed, an idealistic gawky loner, who is a lowly clerk with high level security clearance, becomes obsessed with Donald Trump, who he views as neo-fascist. He sees unmistakable parallels between the rise of Hitler and rise in the US of Trump and white supremacism. And it is little better in Britain which is run by a “Tory cabinet of tenth graders” and the former “pig ignorant foreign secretary” – the man now firmly ensconced at No.10 Downing Street who will take Britain out of the EU.

Through his characters, le Carré asserts Putin and Russians have Kompromat on Trump. Former Russian spy, Arkady, describes him as “Putin’s shithouse cleaner”. Nat had years previously persuaded Arkady to betray the Soviets for Britain, which he portrayed as a more ethical society. But a disillusioned Arkady has transforming himself into an oligarch, albeit one who has ripped Putin off and lives in fear of retribution.

Arkady says Trump “does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can’t do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Roman Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jews and the Saudis, and to hell with the world order.”

And you Brits, what do you do?” he asks. “You suck his dick and invite him to tea with your Queen. You take our black money and wash it for us. You welcome us if we are big enough crooks. You sell us half of London. You wring your hands when we poison our traitors and you say please, please, dear Russian friends, trade with us.”

He tells Nat the Brits have sold him a “cartload of hypocritical horseshit”.

It is through Arkady that Nat learns of Operation Jericho and this is where concepts of post Brexit Britain gets interesting. Whether it is his own belief, or just a worst case scenario expressed through the character of Ed, is left to the reader.

Britain, having taken the disastrous step to leave the EU, mainly to satisfy the ego of Boris Johnson and his cronies, is so desperate to do a trade deal with the US it will, or may already be, prostitute itself to a ruthless Trump-controlled America. It is not just the National Health Service that may be up for grabs, but liberal democracy in the West.

Nat’s bosses are already involved in a covert mission designed to undermine democratic institutions in the EU in order to help dismantle the EU’s trading tariff system and open the huge block up to corporate America. The EU is also the only body strong enough to stand up to the new monopoly powers of new US corporate powers, Facebook, Google and Amazon. Also, if other nations follow Britain out of the EU, Johnson will claim leadership and justification.

In the post-Brexit era, Britain will be desperate for increased trade with America. America will accommodate Britain’s needs, but only on its terms,” reveals one of Nat’s sources. “One such term will be a joint covert operation to obtain by persuasion – bribery and blackmail not excluded – officials, parliamentarians and opinion-makers of the European Establishment. Also to disseminate fake news on a large scale in order to aggravate between member states of the Union.”

This I suggest is le Carré’s theory of how the Brexit-Trump dystopia plays out – Trump, with the assistance and connivance of an emaciated vassal UK will, using all the US resources at his disposal, both overt and covert, and in parallel with a malevolent, unscrupulous and unscrutinised Russia, will do his utmost to bust up the EU. Using fake news, media manipulation, Cambridge Analytica replicas, spy agencies and other scurrilous methods, they will support right wing (fascist, anti-liberal) nationalist parties and movements that have Brexit-like agendas.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Le Carré , who worked for both MI5 and MI6 in the 1950s and 60s, including spying of left wing groups, says he is today out of touch with modern espionage, but I seriously doubt it. His previous books suggest he is both a meticulous researcher and well-informed. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 – aka “C” – publicly attacked le Carré for his undue emphasis on betrayal within the spy services. Le Carré responded by noting that it was under Dearlove’s watch that the intelligence service became politicised, allowing Britain to justify entrance to the disastrous Iraq war on false evidence.

(Simon Louisson, a former journalist, reported for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, the New Zealand Press Association Reuters and The Jerusalem Post among other media)

5 comments on “New book reveals Le Carré’s bleak view of post-Brexit world  ”

  1. Anne 1

    Wow! Sounds like a must read. I'll be acquiring this book. Does anyone know whether it is available in NZ yet?

    Le Carré , who worked for both MI5 and MI6 in the 1950s and 60s, including spying of left wing groups… he is both a meticulous researcher and well-informed. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 … publicly attacked le Carré for his undue emphasis on betrayal within the spy services. Le Carré responded by noting that it was under Dearlove’s watch that the intelligence service became politicised, allowing Britain to justify entrance to the disastrous Iraq war on false evidence.

    One small point someone might clarify for me:

    I understood the British spy services warned Blair and co. they believed the WMD claims were false but he chose to ignore them.

  2. John le Carré opposed Corbyn due to Corbyns supposed antisemitism in this letter, which starts..

    "We listen to our Jewish friends and see how their pain has been relegated as an issue, pushed aside by arguments about Britain’s European future. For those who insist that Labour is the only alternative to Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, now, it seems, is not the time for Jewish anxiety."…and closes with…" We refuse to vote Labour on 12 December."

    I wish Britains Jewish folk all the best under the kindly not at all Racist Tories…however I very much doubt the likes of Le Carre have done anyone, Jewish or otherwise, living day to day on a simple wage, any favours.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/28/britain-first-far-right-members-5000-have-joined-tories

  3. pat 3

    Entirely plausible…after all the Euro was always intended as a challenge to USD hegemony.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    Smart bloke Le Carre. Time was we had smart folk in policy, not just in fiction. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • COVID-19 vaccine slated for possible approval next week
    The green light for New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be granted in just over a week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. “We’re making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we’re also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective,” Jacinda Ardern said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • New ACC Board members announced.
    The Minister for ACC is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February 2021. “All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Bella Takiari-Brame from Hamilton ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Economic boost for Southland marae
    The Government is investing $9 million to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs, Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene have announced.  The grant for Waihōpai Rūnaka Inc to make improvements to Murihiku Marae comes from the $3 billion set ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
    Upscaling work already underway to restore two iconic ecosystems will deliver jobs and a lasting legacy, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.  “The Jobs for Nature programme provides $1.25 billion over four years to offer employment opportunities for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 recession. “Two new projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago