Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The lies they tell

The thing about Brexit is it's all about details. The more you know the harder it is. I noticed this a few days ago while appearing on Radio Wales. I listened to the godawful Godfrey Bloom rattle off a rehearsed litany of tropes as to why Airbus will be unaffected by a hard Brexit. This is easy to do when when your mind is not cross-referencing rhetoric with knowledge. It's much harder when you have to gather you thoughts and try to impart accurate information.

You can see an example of this dynamic in this TV debate between Alison McGovern and Robert Oulds. McGovern is is out of her depth and is thrown by the question as to why China could continue as an Airbus supplier while the UK could not. She knows that there probably is a reason but is unable to put her finger on it. This allows Oulds to effortlessly vomit out the standard diversionary tactics which largely go unchallenged by the presenter.

This is a microcosm of the entire debate where the half-informed are up against the totally ignorant who are willing to lie without remorse. I wish I could say it gets easier for knowing more but before you can tackle the argument you first need to explain how the system works which can't really be done on the hoof in a short media slot.

Generally speaking TV news is a poor medium for communicating anything remotely complicated - especially when you're talking about integrated regulatory systems where the results vary according to the outcome. This is the inherent weakness in the debate that propagandists love to exploit.

What we're now dealing with is a war of a attrition where, for the Brexit blob, no lie is too big and any lie will do. The agenda in play is for the UK to leave the European regulatory sphere at all costs and they'll devote considerable energy to that cause.

We see this same tactic deployed by BrexitCentral, a Tufton Street sock puppet operation, which has never knowingly told the truth. Here we have Victoria Hewson of the IEA straw-manning the EEA option.
There are also Leave supporters who support this kind of model: they see it as a way of managing the process of leaving the EU in a low-impact way, either by eventually graduating out of the European Economic Area (EEA) after we have re-built systems and capacity, or reforming the way it works from within.
But these approaches rest on highly-flawed assumptions, including that free movement of people could be controlled from within the EEA by deploying safeguard mechanisms that Liechtenstein is allowed to operate; that EFTA EEA states can opt out of Single Market regulations they don’t like (they can’t, unless they want to lose their market access, which would defeat the object of being in the EEA); and that most Single Market regulation and standard setting is agreed at a global level anyway so we would be involved in developing it in global fora and not a rule-taker at all (which, if that were the case, begs the question as to why we would need to be in the EEA); and that the EU, and the other EFTA EEA, states will be happy to re-balance and renegotiate the deal to accommodate us.
It's not really worth my time or yours to go into any great detail debunking this because the tactic here is a form of political judo - forcing opponents to invest more energy in deconstructng their propaganda than they used to produce it. I could sit here dismantling every claim in detail until the small hours when they took less than ten minutes to produce it. 

All we can really conclude is that Hewson has such a shallow understanding of the issues that the point of the EEA option escapes her entirely - or that she is an accomplice to lie. 

Very briefly I would note that the triggering of Article 112 sets off a political process whereby the UK would have to set out its proposed remedy for freedom of movement and negotiate with the EU the corresponding retaliation. Secondly adopting rules directly from the global level (thereby achieving parity with the EU) does not confer any automatic single market participation rights. The thing about the single market is that you is either in it, or you ain't. 

I could say more but it doesn't make a dent. These people are not engaged in a debate nor will they respond to debate. No matter how comprehensively debunked they are they will continue to repackage the same handful of lies and distribute them to a willing audience. They have institutional prestige and pole position withing the London bubble so they don't think they need to go the extra mile. They got lazy. 

The problem they have is that they're running out of steam. They can't keep whitewashing the complexity of Brexit forever and there comes a tipping point where the real world consequences of Brexit cannot be written off as "project fear". It has not gone unnoticed that the Tory right ideas engines are manned almost entirely by obnoxious teenagers and Legatum rejects. Nor has it gone unnoticed that for all they protest about the EEA they have yet to offer a coherent alternative. 

Sooner or later this is going to come to a head. Mrs May will trot off to Brussels with her white paper in hand, peppered with all the misapprehensions and delusions of the think tank set, only to be told what she has been told for months. No. There is no plan B single market, there is no alternate system of equivalence, there is no mutual recognition solution, no magic wand technology - and third country means third country. It's then a simple choice. Either you want to stay in business with the EU or you don't. Everything else is just noise. 

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