Saturday 29 April 2017

Do you want a good deal out of the Brexit negotiations?

I've seen quite a few people saying that they're planning to wilfully ignore the Tories' woeful track record in government and vote for them anyway because they want to see the UK get "the best deal possible" out of the Brexit negotiations.

It's easy to see why people might imagine that Theresa May is the right person to lead the UK into the most important diplomatic negotiations the UK has ever faced because the right-wing dominated UK press have been lauding her every move since she was appointed Prime Minister by her Tory chums, and now the Tory party have taken to repeating the phrase "strong and stable leadership" like a bunch of broken robots.

I feel a tad patronising for actually pointing this out, but it's important to remember that just because someone repeatedly claims to be a strong and stable leader, and their chums in the right-wing press refuse to hold them to account over anything, that doesn't actually make them a strong and stable leader at all.

The problem for this "best Brexit deal possible" argument for voting Tory of is of course that Theresa May isn't actually promising a good deal from the Brexit negotiations at all is she?

What she actually did in her January 2017 clown costume speech was to horrify pretty much everyone apart from her extreme-right fans in the tabloid propaganda sheets by dumping the threat of a mutually ruinous "no deal" strop on the negotiating table.

Remember that an economically ruinous "no deal" cliff edge Brexit followed by Britain turning itself into a low-wage, low-welfare corporate tax haven is precisely what the extreme-right Eurosceptic wing of the Tory party have always wanted*.

The appalling scenario Theresa May threatened the rest of Europe with is exactly what quite a lot of her Tory MPs actually see as the best possible outcome!

The threat of a "no deal" flounce was clearly more of a sop to the extreme-right element of the Tory party than anything even remotely resembling a coherent diplomatic strategy, because shocking and enraging the people you have to negotiate with is a ridiculous thing to do before the talks have even got underway.

If you believe a belligerent threat like if you don't give me what I want I'll do a "no deal" flounce away from the negotiations and then set about turning the UK into a tax haven is going to deliver the UK a really good deal, you really don't know anything about diplomacy at all do you?

It's simply not possible to persuade a much more economically powerful opponent to give you the best deal possible in a 27 vs 1 diplomatic negotiation by starting off with an open threat to blow up an economic bomb over their countries and turn yourself into a tax haven aimed at extracting wealth from their economies rather than actually earning your own.

Just try to have a think about how Theresa May's behaviour looks on the continent.

Try to consider why there's an ever-so-rare total agreement amongst the EU 27 that they're not going to allow Theresa May the quickfire corporate friendly UK-EU trade deal she wants before she's even guaranteed the rights of EU citizens living in the UK or addressed the problems that Brexit has created for the Irish peace process.

Do you honestly think that Theresa May using the lives of EU citizens like gambling chips in the reckless game of brinkmanship she's determined to play with the entire social and economic future of our nation is a good strategy for achieving the best possible deal with the EU?

Or do you admit that this is actually the kind of behaviour that would strongly harden attitudes on the continent against Britain (especially if the British public give her a thumping majority as a reward for behaving in this unconscionable manner)?

If you want any kind of good deal out of Brexit, then it's painfully obvious that a bellicose and belligerent intellectual lightweight like Theresa May is one of the last people in the country you'd trust to lead us into the negotiations, especially given that she's the one who threw the threat of a ruinous "no deal" Brexit flounce onto the negotiating table in the first place!

I'm not telling you who to vote for on June 8th, but what I will say is that if you vote for Theresa May in the expectation of getting a good Brexit deal, be prepared to be bitterly disappointed.

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* = See this article about John Redwood's fantasy of turning the UK into a tax haven from back in 2012.

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