Brexit Could Cripple Britain’s Ports, The Atlantic. 2018.

A long-form journalism piece exploring the magical thinking around invocations of ‘technology’ around Brexit, supply chains, and the Port of Dover.

The Port of Dover lurks in the shadow of the chalk and flint. Today, it operates smoothly within systems that permit people and freight to seamlessly bounce between one country and another: the customs union and the single market. There are many questions about what will happen when—and if—the United Kingdom extricates itself from these systems; how goods will flow, how the port will operate. When quizzed, British politicians have frequently invoked notions of new and emergent digital technologies, which will somehow permit business as usual in Brexit’s brave new world. But most of these promises have been shot down by European politicians as “magical thinking.”

Whenever this phrase is invoked by Brussels, I think of the writer Joan Didion. In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion describes the rituals she found herself performing following the sudden and unexpected death of her husband. In extreme shock and grief, her thinking steered into an irrational place where, as she writes, “there was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible.”