Wednesday, June 28, 2017

John Redwood's Twitter meltdown


John Redwood is a hard-right Tory who hates the EU with a burning ideological passion, and who has been suggesting that the UK should turn itself into a low-wage, low-regulation, low-skill corporate tax haven for years.

On the morning of June 28th 2017 he posted a series of Tweets that demonstrated just how ideologically deranged the hard-right Eurosceptic faction of the Tory party has become.
Redwood started off by posting a link to his own blog in which he tried to argue the reality-reversing nonsense that it's the EU that is not ready to negotiate, rather than the absolutely shambolic situation Theresa May and the three Brexiteers have cobbled together.

The blog post was full of errors, misrepresentations, omissions and bizarre conflations of different issues, and the comments beneath were a foaming pool of frothing hard-right anti-EU diatribes (which is exactly what you'd expect from the kind of people who follow John Redwood's blog).

His next Tweet is actually true, but not for the reason he's claiming. The EU are not unready to discuss the future UK-EU relationship, they're unwilling to until three primary issues are settled (citizens' rights, the Irish border, and the separation agreement).

Theresa May's decision to completely ignore the EU's opening offer on citizens' rights, and instead launch an absolute insult of a lowball offer is a demonstration that the Tories are determined to stall the the first round of negotiations for as long as possible by playing silly beggars.


The EU will not negotiate the future trade agreement until the three primary issues are sorted. The longer the Tories spend stalling over stuff like citizens' rights, the less time there will be for the trade talks.
This is just diplomatic baby talk. In any negotiation both sides have demands. The important issue is not the number of demands that are being made by either side, it's what legitimacy these demands actually have.

The EU negotiating position has been agreed by all 27 of the remaining EU states and democratically approved through a vote at the European Parliament. The UK negotiating position has been crudely cobbled together by the hard-right Eurosceptic faction of the Tory party and has been democratically approved by nobody.

The hard-right Eurosceptic faction of the Tory party have no democratic mandate to define the UK negotiating position on Brexit, but they see it as their God-given right, and they insist on describing anyone who dares question their mandate to negotiate on behalf of the entire United Kingdom in the language of treason (consider Andrea Leadsom's Stalinist claim that the mainstream media are unpatriotic for simply asking questions about the Tory negotiating position).
There is an obvious legal basis for the EU to request a financial settlement to cover the cost of ongoing commitments. Take the issue of EU parliamentary pensions paid to British former members of the EU Parliament, and pensions paid to formed British diplomats and technocrats in Brussels. Do the EU have an obligation to cover the entire cost of these pensions, or should the UK make a contribution?

Another cost is the removal of the prestigious EU agencies that are based in London (the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Agency). What Redwood is trying to argue is that the UK took the decision to leave the EU, but it's the EU's responsibility to pay all of the costs of that decision!

Additionally talk of "no legal basis" is utterly bizarre coming from someone who sees the result of an advisory referendum as an excuse to tear up Britain's international obligations.

What Redwood is arguing for is a totally lawless attitude to international contracts and obligations. A total free-for-all where people and organisations can simply walk away from any contract or agreement, which is completely at odds with Conservative economic theory that relies heavily on contract law and the sanctity of contracts.

Redwood's hatred of the EU is so rabid that he's willing to abandon one of the fundamental pillars of the conservative ideology in order to achieve Brexit.
Talk of resorting to WTO rules and imposing import tariffs to damage the EU trade in cars and agricultural produce is the kind of nuclear Brexit nonsense that the UK public rejected in Theresa May's vanity election.

There is no public appetite for an economy-wrecking, job-destroying, global recession-triggering nuclear Brexit, but John Redwood and the hard-right faction of the Tory party are absolutely fixated on achieving this outcome regardless of what the public want.

What Redwood is describing is the threat of an extreme hard Brexit with no trade deal in place followed up by a protectionist trade war in which either side imposes import taxes on the other in order to damage the other economy as much as possible.

Aside from this threat being another abandonment of a central pillar of conservative ideology (free trade) it should be obvious that as the smaller and less diversified party the UK would be in a much weaker position in a protectionist trade war than the EU.

If the Tory government decided to make a "no deal" situation even worse by using import tariffs to deliberately attack the EU economy, then the obvious EU response would be to impose tit-for-tat import taxes on UK produce.

44% of all UK exported goods and services go to the EU. 

9% of EU exported goods and services go to the UK.

How could anyone in their right mind believe that Britain could win a protectionist trade war with the EU?
This bit is just bizarre. Redwood knows that we've all seen the Tory party spend an entire year stalling Brexit as they tried to cobble together some kind of plan. 

He knows we all saw Theresa May stall the Brexit negotiations for another two months with her vanity election

He knows we all saw Theresa May throw a spanner into the citizens' rights negotiations in order to stall the onset of the trade talks for as long as possible.

He knows that we can all see that the Tories are catastrophically unprepared for the magnitude of the diplomatic task they are facing and stalling for as long as possible, but he thinks we're gullible enough to believe the Orwellian reality-reverasal that it's the EU who are the chaotic unprepared charlatans who are posturing and delaying everything for as long as they can get away with!

Conclusion


In a delusional outburst of Tweets John Redwood has demonstrated that he's so riddled with hatred of the EU that he's willing to sling two pillars of right-wing ideology on the Brexit bonfire (the sanctity of contracts & free trade), and that he's determined to distort reality to such an extent that in his mind the EU are the chaotic, endlessly stalling chancers with no proper mandate, and the Tory party are the well prepared negotiators with a proper mandate!

Under any other circumstance Redwood's delusions would be laughable, but the terrifying reality is that Theresa May has put the hard-right Eurosceptic faction of the Tory party in charge of the Brexit negotiations in the full knowledge that most of them, like Redwood, actually want the negotiations to fail, and that some of them even want the UK to enter an economically ruinous protectionist trade war with the EU.

I've been warning since before the EU referendum that the hard-right fringe of the Tory party are the last people you'd ever want negotiating on your behalf, but now you don't have to believe me, you just have to look at John Redwood's Tweets and have a think about the absolute lunacy of what he's saying.


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