Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Do Brexiters love sinister corporate power grabs or not?


I'm pretty sure we all remember how Brexiters chose to fearmonger about TTIP in order to sell the case for Brexit. The argument against the TTIP corporate power grab is a very strong one, so it's no wonder Brexiters jumped on the anti-TTIP bandwagon.

One of the worst aspects of TTIP is the inclusion of sovereignty destroying ISDS components that would allow multinational corporations to completely bypass the democratic and judicial systems of any countries that have signed up to it in order to sue governments in secretive transnational tribunals. This means that if any democratic government introduces new legislation that multinational corporations don't like (plain packaging on cigarette packs, environmental protection laws, product safety standards, consumer rights, improved workers' rights ...) then the multinational corporations could extract £billions in compensation from the taxpayer in secretive transnational tribunals operated by a tiny band of extremely highly paid, mainly US based, corporate lawyers and arbiters.

It didn't matter how many times people like me pointed out that although TTIP is a very bad idea, it would have to be approved by every national government in the EU before it could be implemented. It didn't matter that we pointed out that the Greek government had already sworn to veto it. It didn't matter that we pointed out that the left-leaning governments in Portugal and France would be extremely unlikely to endorse it either. It didn't matter that we pointed out the massive scale of pan-European opposition to TTIP ... it was a fabulous anti-EU attack point for the Brexiters to use, and they did in their thousands.

Brexiters opportunistically jumped onto the anti-TTIP bandwagon despite the fact that the Brexit movement was driven by hard-right fanatics like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, John Redwood and Iain Duncan Smith who would just love to see British sovereignty completely over-written by a corporate take-over charter like TTIP. Before the Brexit vote the Tory party was one of the biggest cheerleaders for TTIP in the whole of the EU. Boris Johnson even wrote articles lavishing TTIP with praise and savagely condemning anyone who dared to criticise any aspect of it!

It should have been absolutely clear to any anti-TTIP Brexiter that handing even more power to the hard-right fringe of the Tory party by voting for Brexit would give them a perfect opportunity to ram through hard-right corporate power grabs to make TTIP look like a walk in the park, and without any democratic avenues to fight back against it either. Sadly lots of Brexiters just bought into the anti-EU rhetoric and chose to believe that that people like Boris Johnson (who so loved the idea of TTIP until a few weeks before his Brexit conversion) are genuinely concerned about protecting British sovereignty and "taking back control"!


Fast forward a few months and the adoption of another EU transnational corporate power grab called CETA is being stalled by three regional governments in Belgium. Three of the six Belgian federal parliaments have objected to this deal with Canada (the Wallonia region, the Brussels-Capital region, and the French community) so Belgium will not be able to sign up to it.

This deal between the EU and Canada contains exactly the same kind of shady ISDS tribunals as TTIP. It's precisely these sovereignty destroying ISDS components that are the main objection of Belgian politicians like Paul Magnette who have led the opposition to CETA.

The reaction from Brexiters has been comically hypocritical. They're now trying to claim that the CETA is a great thing and that the EU is a basket case for allowing regional democratic parliaments to obstruct this supposedly marvellous deal!

Before the referendum it was pretty much impossible to find a Brexiter who would argue in favour of TTIP because criticising TTIP conformed with their anti-EU agenda. Just a few months later it's pretty much impossible to find a Brexiter who will admit that CETA is exactly the same kind of sovereignty destroying corporate power grab as TTIP. Additionally the facts that regional parliaments in Belgium can obstruct it, and that all national governments will have a veto on its implementation are suddenly signs that the EU is "utterly dysfunctional", not conclusive proof that the EU isn't half as anti-democratic as the Brexiters were shrieking a few months ago.

What the hell do these Brexiters want? A few months ago they were telling us that corporate power grabs were evil and unacceptable attacks on our democratic sovereignty in order to push their anti-EU agenda. Now they're telling us that giant corporate power grabs are the absolute bees knees and the EU is a totally dysfanctional basket case because individual member states and federal regions can assert their democratic sovereignty to obstruct them!

Either the EU is a giant anti-democratic behemoth which imposes sinister corporate power grabs against member states' wills, or it's a democratic organisation that allows member states to obstruct wonderful, amazing. brilliant, marvellous corporate power grabs. It just can't be both.


It seems to boil down to this. If progress towards a massive corporate power grab can be used to attack the EU, then hoards of Brexiters will do it ... but if the democratic obstruction of another massive corporate power grab by Belgian regional parliaments can be used to attack the EU, then hoards of Brexiters will do that too.

The double dose of hypocrisy is absolutely searing. Before the referendum Brexiters told us that corporate power grabs are terrible, but now they're out in force to describe CETA as the bees knees, and before the referendum they wouldn't shut up about the importance of democracy and national sovereignty, but now that Belgium is asserting its democratic sovereignty within the EU they're shrieking "dysfunctional", "basket case", "red tape nightmare", "the EU is broken" ...

This multi-layered Brexiter hypocrisy is a perfect illustration of the blinkered and anti-intellectual ideological puritanism that is toxifying British politics. Screw the facts, screw the politics, screw the economic indicators, screw the experts, screw the evidence, screw rational consideration, screw ideological consistency, screw the consequences ... As far as millions of people are now concerned the EU is pure evil and they are determined to attack it from every angle, 
no matter how utterly hypocritical they make their cause look in the process.

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