Monday, 1 February 2016

John Redwood: stupid to the point of malevolence

Today I must extend a huge thank you to John Redwood. In one blog post he manages to beautifully encapsulate everything that is wrong with euroscepticism. Right on cue as well. Just last night I was complaining about the eurosceptic aristocracy for their presumption, arrogance and laziness. From Redwood we get a tour de force as to why the Tory eurosceptics are not just parasitic but also malevolent. 

As a rule I shy away from fisking, but this needs to be taken apart once and for all - and you, dear reader, will have to put in some leg work in retweeting this to ensure that everybody on our side knows not to touch Redwood with a barge pole. This far and no further.

First off the bat:
Out of the EU we will be free to make our own laws and spend our own tax revenues as we see fit.
Categorically, no we won't. Our campaign has made repeated assurances that trade and other areas of cooperation will not be affected. Whichever road we take, we will still end up participating in EU programmes, and we are still involved in the creation of global regulation for the facilitation of trade - which is not an inexpensive activity.

It will be the case that if we leave the EU we will still want participate in the economic and social life of the EU - as indeed many non-EU states do. And that is not going to come for free.

Additionally, there will be many areas of administrative and technical cooperation which all parties will want to continue - including agricultural subsidies, even if we repatriate them. Some of the more high profile ones include Europol and Eurocontrol, the latter taking in the development of the Single European Sky. Moreover, there are spending commitments and leases taken out on our existing obligations. There are contracts to uphold and there are microscopic levels of integration that cannot be causally unpicked. Moving on.
The Leave campaign does not want the UK to seek a Norway style deal, as we see no need to pay any money into the EU once we have left. Canada, Australia, Mexico trade well with the EU without having to pay for the privilege.
Firstly, Redwood does not speak for the Leave campaign. The designation process has yet to even start. Redwood speaks for nobody but himself. In fact, most of the Brexit bloggers have coalesced around the Norway Option, not least because it's the most politically realistic.

Secondly, and this is typical of Bannerman, Lea and Hannan, he has no conception of the difference between our single market membership and the EU trade deals between Canada and Mexico. The Mexico EU agreement deals mainly with tariffs and says nothing of convergence on regulation or recognition of standards and qualifications. As blogger "The Brexit Door" points out, we are way beyond mere tariffs as the basis for trade agreements. Redwood is paddling in the shallow end.

Australia does have a free trade agreement and a mutual recognition agreement but it is nothing close to what we enjoy as members of the single market and it took several years to get to where it is. But that's besides the point. We are not starting from scratch. We are talking about the process of untangling forty years of political and economic integration, and deciding which bits we want to keep. If Redwood thinks any of that is coming for free, then he is a gibbering imbecile. Adding to this idiotic assertion he offers us this gem:
Once the voters have chosen to leave, there are two options. The UK could invoke Article 50 under the Treaties and enter a negotiation lasting up to two years – or more – to decide which agreements we wish to keep and what we wish to change. That would be playing the EU’s game and may take longer than is desirable.
The UK could simply amend the 1972 European Communities Act to make clear that as from the Exit vote all EU laws and rules in the UK depended on the authority of Parliament and no longer derive from the Treaties or the European Court. All present laws and rules would continue for the time being.
This betrays an epic and magnificent ignorance. To abandon Article 50 would be to essentially break with our treaty obligation to launch a formal cessation process. We would be unilaterally ending our EU membership. Does Redwood believe that would be conducive to securing good relations and equitable terms of separation? If he does, he's insane. A government making unilateral gestures in this fashion would see its credit rating slashed overnight. It would be a hostile act.
Armed with that change the UK would then be able to negotiate which agreements and rules need to remain to facilitate our trade and economic relations with the EU, and which can be amended or repealed if the UK wishes. I would expect the rest of the EU to want to keep the trade agreements, mutual market access, pipeline, transport and other agreements. The EU for its part would have to accept that in other areas the UK is free to legislate as it wishes – over borders, benefits, environment, energy and much else.
I spoke too soon. The man IS insane. Having unilaterally declared independence, it would appear Redwood does think we can pick and choose with absolutely no reference to what the EUs own view would be. Moreover, EU regulation is derived from international conventions, where it co-signs treaties then adopts the substance of regulations from global technical agencies and standards bodies.

Leaving the EU would not change the fact that we are still signatories to all of the major global conventions on trade and environmental matters and we would have little wiggle room for deviation. The very process of sifting through such measures will take decades to sort out, by which time many will have evolved or been surpassed. Redwood then asserts:
The UK could simply rely on World Trade Organisation membership to stop tariffs and other barriers being imposed. In practice both sides will wish to do better than this. Germany has already made clear they don’t want extra tariffs like a 10% tariff on cars, so the resulting deal will be similar to the current position, WTO plus.
This would be the mythical WTO option, which again only addresses the marginal matter of tariffs, which betrays an entirely two dimensional understanding of trade and regulatory affairs. As it happens the WTO option goes by another name. Economic suicide. It's the same garbage espoused by Ruth Lea and Campbell Bannerman, and this post and this post outlines in greater detail just how much nonsense it is. Redwood dreams on further:
The UK would reassure former partner countries that we wish to sort out the matters where we are still involved – mainly trade – on an amicable basis to a sensible timetable, but reserve the right to get on and sort out matters like borders, welfare and criminal justice where the act of leaving restores sovereignty.
Does this man listen to himself? He's talking about unilateral cessation from a decades old relationship and thinks this entitles us to talks on an amicable basis. Seriously?

Redwood evidently thinks that we can just wave a magic wand and the big, nasty EU will just roll over and give us everything we want while we slash and burn regulations and spend all the money on domestic matters. Childish. More Ukip than Ukip.

Moreover, this sudden death Brexit he promotes is the most risky option, one that creates the most uncertainty and the one that business will not in any way endorse. If Redwood really does speak for the Leave campaign then Leave has already lost because no serious opinion former will believe our case is credible.

And this is ultimately what is so offensive about John Redwood and his ilk. How is it that a man who has been a leading eurosceptic voice for two decades not know any of this? It's not as though there hasn't been a healthy and vibrant debate over the last couple of years. There are even pointers in his own blog comments, which we can safely assume he doesn't read.

So what we are dealing with is another bubble dwelling politician in transmit mode only who has zero intention of troubling himself with detail, expecting us to applaud when he lets out a generic eurosceptic fart. Arrogance and ignorance in extremis.

Yet again we find ourselves having to fight those who are supposedly on our side, but it increasingly looks like Brexit is not just a fight against the EU, as LeaveHQ points out, but also our entire political establishment, including the Vote Leave Tory eurosceptic aristocracy who demonstrate that they are equally out of touch and just as unwilling to defer to greater expertise. These people are a bed blocker to people with better ideas and superior knowledge.

And in this, I offer a word of caution to also pay close attention to Martin Durkin, who is attempting to crowd-fund Brexit the Movie. From the trailer we see him toadying around all the usual suspects, most of whom subscribe to exactly the same idiocy as Redwood, all of whom are badly letting us down and pepper the debate with risible bent banana histrionics over regulation. 

The problem is that Durkin's productions in the past have been quite good, thus he has prestige alongside the Eurosceptic Tory aristocracy - and if the debate is informed by this nonsense then we are looking at a continuance of the usual eurosceptic baggage that can only deliver a defeat. 

Put simply, Tory eurosceptics are not leaders or valued allies. They are careerist parasites who do not know what they are talking about and actively conspire to exclude all those who challenge their terrible ideas, which is why they have been spouting the same crap for two decades. Now is the time to get angry, get active and take them out otherwise we are most certainly staying in the EU. 

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