Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Why economic suicide is a bad idea

It seems such a ridiculous thing to have to explain, but the outburst of Twitter outrage over the failure of Ian Murray's economic suicide amendment kind of makes it necessary to explain why economic suicide is actually a bad idea.

The likes of ex-Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron and the usual suspects from the Labour right bombarded Twitter with howls of protest after the amendment to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill by the right-wing Labour MP Ian Murray was defeated by 311 votes to 76.

Tim Farron put up a Twitter rant claiming that he'd voted to keep Britain in the Customs Union, but in reality he did no such thing. An amendment to keep Britain in the Customs Union would have specified that Britain should stay in the Customs Union, but what Ian Murray's ludicrous amendment sought to do was to force the UK to continue behaving as if it was in the Customs Union, even if we end up out of it!

Murray's amendment sought to prevent the UK from imposing tariffs or quotas on imported goods from the EU, regardless of whether the hard-right Tories contrive the "no deal" cliff edge Brexit they're craving or not.

However, the World Trade Organisation rules are clear that countries can't offer favourable trade terms to other countries unless they do it through a formal trade agreement, so that means the Murray economic suicide amendment would have forced the UK to drop import tariffs and quotas on all imports from anywhere in the world, whilst leaving the rest of the world free to impose tariffs and quotas on UK exports!

The UK trade deficit is already enormous, so just imagine the impact of eliminating all tariffs and quotas on imports while simultaneously allowing the rest of the world to impose WTO level tariffs on exports from the UK.

Just imagine how scrapping all import tariffs and quotas would render the UK absolutely defenceless when it comes to protecting British manufacturing from unfair trade practices like other nations dumping artificially cheap steel into the UK economy.

So if this amendment had passed and the Tories then forced a "no deal" flounce out of the EU, it would have hard-wired an even more fanatically right-wing and damaging Brexit than the hard-right Tories are pushing for!

Don't get me wrong here. I think the Tory red line that the UK must quit the Customs Union is a terrible idea that has already caused deadlock over the Irish border situation, and will cause a significant amount of economic damage to the UK economy when we leave, but the likes of Ian Murray and Tim Farron got it all wrong by attempting to ensure that the UK is forced to kill its own manufacturing sector stone dead if they don't get their own way.

Yet somehow these people turned the defeat of their economic suicide amendment into furious bile-laden attacks on the majority of the Labour Party for supposedly siding with the Tory hard Brexit fanatics because they lobbed their reckless and economically illiterate amendment in the bin where it belonged.

Ian Murray's amendment was so bad that he's even admitted that he expected it to lose, meaning that it was just another bit of pointless and destructive grandstanding from the Labour-right aimed at damaging their own party from within. And to see the likes of Tim Farron opportunistically piggy-backing anti-Labour diatribes onto it after its failure just proves the point.

I was particularly disappointed to see Caroline Lucas of the Green Party resort to this kind of hyper-partisan rubbish after the amendment was defeated because she's one of my favourite politicians and normally loads better than that. 

I was also disappointed to see so many SNP politicians voting in favour of Ian Murray's economic suicide amendment and then engaging in hyper-partisan attacks when it was defeated. The SNP should have considered the implications of what they were voting for before they voted for it, and they should also be perfectly well aware that Ian Murray is a right-wing Labour MP more intent on making trouble for his own party leadership than doing anything to actually help the people of Scotland.

It takes quite a level of idiocy to propose an amendment that would make a Tory "no deal" Brexit even worse by turning the UK into a lame debt-shackled sitting-duck economy that is literally begging to have its core industries ruined by allowing unlimited imports, while the rest of the world can apply tariffs on UK exports. But it takes a whole other level of idiocy to then turn around and spit bile at those who prevented you from making such an economically illiterate blunder, accusing them of collaborating with the Tories.

Even most of the rabid hard-right Brexiteers have enough sense to understand that abolishing all import tariffs and quotas on imports while other economies remain free to impose them on UK exports would be nothing short of unilateral economic surrender, but Tim Farron and his ilk are just too dim-witted to realise that they were attempting to hard-wire a super-hard Brexit that was too extreme even for the hard-right Tory Brexiteers to stomach!

It really does not engender much faith in the parliamentary process that so many MPs voted in favour of an economic suicide amendment, and then cried victim so piteously when it was defeated.

It also severely erodes the standing of the (already hopelessly diminished) mainstream media that they utterly failed to convey the reckless economic illiteracy of Ian Murray's amendment, or it's shocking implications should the Tories achieve the "no deal" Brexit they're so obviously craving.

It's utterly infuriating that so many people (including our elected representatives and the mainstream media figures who are supposedly tasked with holding them to account) are so insistent on framing everything in a over-simplistic binary opposition between pro- and anti- Brexit, when stuff like the Murray economic suicide amendment just doesn't fit.

The politicians who voted in favour of it were too lazy/irresponsible to think about the devastating economic consequences that such an amendment would have in the case of a Tory "no deal" Brexit, meaning that their haphazard knee-jerk opposition to Brexit could have actually hard-wired a more extreme version of Brexit than the foaming-at-the-mouth hard-right Tories are aiming for!

But apparently the reality of the situation is just too boring/complex for most political commentators to bother with, so they just stick with their tactic of hyper-partisan shrieking instead.

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