Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Tory Brextremist Jacob Rees-Mogg is threatening to launch a trade war with the EU

Jacob Rees-Mogg is threatening to trigger a catastrophic trade war with the European Union if the bunch of Brextremists he leads don't get their own way.

In an interview with Sky News he made two specific threats against the EU. One that Britain could deliberately refuse to pay their outstanding liabilities to the EU, and the other that they the UK government could impose punitive 70% spite tariffs on Irish beef in an effort to wreck the Irish economy.

Here's exactly what he said: "If Britain trades on WTO terms, we could potentially slap tariffs of up to 70 per cent on Irish beef. That could bankrupt Ireland, who export £800 million of beef to us every year. And if there is no deal, the EU doesn't get their £40 billion divorce bill money and becomes insolvent."

Irish beef

The problem with threatening to impose punitive 70% tariffs on Irish Beef is that the EU would obviously side with Ireland in such a dispute by imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on the UK's most valuable exports.
It's so ridiculously obvious that the EU would defend the interests of one of their member state against Rees-Mogg's spite tariffs that it feels rather patronising to point out that that's exactly what would happen, and that Britain stands to lose an awful lot more in a bitter trade war with the EU than the EU stands to lose by reciprocating Britain's use of spite tariffs.

UK exports to the EU are worth around £240 billion, so endangering all of that in a spiteful effort to damage £0.8 billion worth of Irish beef exports to the UK would clearly be a massive strategic blunder, but that's exactly what Rees-Mogg is proposing. 

Pariah Britain

If the United Kingdom decides to walk away from EU membership without paying what British negotiators have already agreed that they owe in debts and future liabilities, it's mind-bogglingly obvious that the rest of the world would take note of the fact that the British are liable to walk away from their trade agreements without fulfilling their legal obligations.

The Brextremists are absolutely insistent that the UK must leave the Single Market and Customs Union so that the British government can negotiate new trade deals with the rest of the world, but who on earth would want to sign up to a trade deal with us if they've got absolute proof that we're a bunch of deal-breakers who are prone to leaving their trade partners in the lurch?

Populist protectionism

If you think about it, the idea of Britain using punitive "spite tariffs" to attack their nearest neighbour is an absolutely extraordinary thing to hear from a Tory politician. For decades the Tories have pushed hard-right neoliberal economics, globalisation, and free trade. In fact the Tories were one of the main driving forces behind the creation of the Single Market in the first place!

What Rees-Mogg is proposing is a total break with this Tory globalist free trade tradition to push a form of extreme-right ultranationalist populist protectionism.

How is this ongoing shift in the Tory ideological stance from free trade, to militant protectionism isn't attracting more attention/concern from the mainstream media?


You might be inclined to dismiss Rees-Mogg's threats as the ravings of an attention-seeking backbench Tory MP, but he's not just a backbench MP, he's the leader of the ERG Brextremists who control Theresa May's every move.

The secretive ERG "party within a party" have easily enough MPs to trigger a Tory leadership contest, so Theresa May knows perfectly well that she has to do whatever they want if she wants to cling to power.

If Theresa May steps out of line and angers the ERG mob, then she knows that she's gone, and Rees-Mogg is one of the bookies' favourites to replace her as Tory leader.


It's extraordinary to see Jeremy Corbyn gradually steering the Labour Party back towards traditional centre-left democratic socialism represented in the mainstream media as some kind of scary lunatic take-over of the party, while they provide almost no critical analysis of how the Tory party is actually being taken over from within by a bunch of radical rabble rousing hard-right ultranationalist extremists right before our eyes.

The jingoists

A scroll through the highest rated Daily Express comments about these Rees-Mogg threats reveals the kind of baying extreme-right ultranationalism we're dealing with, and they're precisely the audience Rees-Mogg is targetting with this kind of extreme rhetoric.

"Walk away", "GET US OUT", "the best deal for the UK is no deal", "If May won't do it the Moggster will", "Come on Rees-Mogg, start a new party, you could call it the democratic people party. It would sweep to power".

Rees-Mogg knows perfectly well that the UK economy would be wrecked by a ruinous "no deal" Brexit and a massive trade war with the EU, especially if the UK government signal to the rest of the world that they shouldn't sign trade deals with us because we're unreliable trade partners too, but he actively whips up this kind of extremist rhetoric because he sees it as fundamental to his leadership ambitions. 

There's no way such a ludicrous individual could ever seize political power on a tide of common sense, so he's clearly aiming to build a tsunami of extreme-right ultranationalist fanaticism instead.

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