Brexit and partition views

Dr David Landsman OBE (second left), former executive director
of Tata Limited, Europe, at the Hay Festival in 2015
Dr David Landsman OBE (second left), former executive director of Tata Limited, Europe, at the Hay Festival in 2015


BACK in December, David Landsman, the excellent executive director of Tata UK, sent
out a message: “In my last few days at Tata, I wanted to let you know that after five-and-a-half years, I will be stepping down from the company at the end of the year in
order to pursue a variety of business and other opportunities.”

Landsman, a safe pair of hands but also innovative, is a former diplomat. His successor, Tim Jones, is a former banker who was Natwest’s head of retail.

Under David’s watch, Tata took the decision to sponsor the Hay Festival. A decision was taken at the end of 2018 to end the sponsorship before Jones had taken over.

Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival, said in a statement: “We had a fixed five-year contract with Tata as a main stage sponsor that ended in 2018. It was a great relationship both ways.”

I thought Tata’s sponsorship of Hay, where the spacious Tata Tent was always packed, was
a great success. Tata’s decision appears to have nothing to do with Booker winner Arundhati Roy’s long-held hostility towards the multinational. Having boycotted Hay while it
was sponsored by Tata, she will make an appearance and be in conversation with fellow author Pankaj Mishra on June 2.

It would be more interesting if Arundhati interviewed Pankaj, especially about his angry
article about Brexit – The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class – in the New
York Times this year.

The gist of it is that “with Brexit, the chumocrats who drew borders from India to Ireland
are getting a taste of their own medicine”.

He argues: “The Brexiteers, pursuing a fantasy of imperial-era strength and self-sufficiency,
have repeatedly revealed their hubris, mulishness and ineptitude over the past two years.

“Such a pattern of egotistic and destructive behaviour by the British elite flabbergasts many people today. But it was already manifest seven decades ago during Britain’s rash exit from India.

“It is actually more accurate, for those invoking British history, to say that partition – the
British Empire’s ruinous exit strategy – has come home. In a grotesque irony, borders imposed in 1921 on Ireland, England’s first colony, have proved to be the biggest
stumbling block for the English Brexiteers chasing imperial virility.

Moreover, Britain itself faces the prospect of partition if Brexit, a primarily English demand,
is achieved and Scottish nationalists renew their call for independence.”