So now we can see how, yet again, the brexiters have tied themselves up in various knots. By threatening to break international laws they’ve managed, within the space of a few weeks, to scupper any chances of a deal with the EU, piss off the Americans (and several other countries too, make it very unlikely they will get the trade deals they want, even if they drop the internal market bill), risk the break up of the UK (support for Scottish independence is now at 53-55%), provoke mass resignations among the government’s legal advisers (not exactly helpful at such a critical time), and risk the UK becoming the first country in history to effectively impose sanctions on itself.
Incidentally, if you ever want confirmation that a Tory policy is harmful, watch how they will shamelessly claim the opposite is true (war is peace and peace is war in Toryland). With Johnson preposterously selling the bill to his MP’s as vital to saving the union….by destroying it!
And all if this against the backdrop of a 2nd wave of Covid, where’s its quite clear the NHS will struggle to cope and the Tories have dropped the ball, promising a “worldbeating” testing system (of course anything the Tories claim is worldbeating usually means world beating levels of incompetence and cronyism), which doesn’t supply any tests and a tracing system that doesn’t do any tracing. And many of the same mistakes made before (where elderly patients with suspected covid where discharged and sent to care homes without being tested, to free up beds, leading to a massive spike in cases in care homes) are being repeated.
Some argue its all part of some clever plan cooked up by Dominc Cummings. I’d argue no, it simply a product of the upper class twits who run the Tory party. Many of them (Cummings included btw) were educated in posh boarding schools where children are essentially radicalised (not unlike similar institutions run by islamists). These schools enforce a particularly warped world view of British exceptionalism (rules are for other people, same as taxes) and the glories of empire, while glossing over certain details (such as all the massacres or repression that sustained that empire).
So for example, any fool would understand how much of a red flag breaking an international treaty would look to Europeans (given the past behaviour of fascist governments and the dangers in appeasing such behaviour). I mean how would the British feel if the Spanish decided to break international law in “ a limited way” by now imposing a blockade on Gibraltar (effectively starving the British out).
And the influence of the Irish American lobby is well known, has Johnson never seen a St Patrick’s day parade? And, while the republicans are being a bit more diplomatic about it than the democrats, the message is similar, stick to the GFA or no trade deal. Remember that what trade agreements the UK has currently has with the US will expire on January the 1st 2021, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. People seem to forget its not just the EU we’ll be trading on WTO terms with, but everyone else in the world, the Japan trade deal for example hasn’t yet been ratified by either country.
And of course the very fact they are going back on their own withdrawal agreement (the opposition did propose a more lengthy due diligence and tried to highlight the consequences, but they were ignored) indicates they didn’t understand what it is they were signing. The withdrawal agreement and the NI protocol were rejected by Teresa May, as she was worried it would be a price too great to pay for brexit (her plan was to pretend to support a hard brexit, then force through a softer brexit at the 11th hour under the threat of no deal). Its been obvious since the start of the brexit process you have to put a border somewhere (and a border across Ireland breaks the GFA) or what’s the point in brexit? This was always going to make a hard brexit very difficult if not impossible.
While a soft brexit would negate the need for a hard border, its unacceptable to brexiters as it would quickly expose the reality that they lied through their teeth during the referendum promising things that could never be delivered. It would mean being in the EU’s orbit, still bound by its rules, but with no say in how those rules are made. And still paying more or less what is currently paid into the EU’s coffers. And even this would be more economically damaging than staying in. As such it would probably be reversed pretty quickly once the Tories were out of power.
This is why they’ve been pushing for the hardest of hard brexits, as it allows they to defer having to accept certain unpleasant realities. But its doesn’t change anything, its an ostrich strategy. The brexiters principle enemy after all is reality (which has a remainer bias) and their accumulated body of lies.
Recall for example, that signing trade deals with other countries means you have to change your laws to account for that (as trade deals require common laws…you know like EU membership!). The Japanese trade deal will require changes to state aid rules, the US deal (if they were to get it) would mean changes to food standards and the selling off of the NHS. And establishing your own institutions to regulate these new rules is likely to cost the UK far more than it ever paid to the EU.
The only difference between these deals and EU membership is that by staying in the EU, the UK would save money, retain more of a say EU affairs and have more bargaining power abroad. But the Tories aren’t details people. They are as ignorant of these pesky facts as they are about NI. And besides they know they can rely on the right wing media to lie to the public and convince them that the chocolate ration is being increased from 30g to 20g.
Which is why I’d argue that under no circumstances should anyone go easy on the brexiters over this. If I were the EU I’d announce a no deal and make it clear to Johnson that if he wants a deal (the country is in no way ready he’ll have to come crawling to the table eventually), he’ll have to drop the internal market bill, pay some sort of fine (or accept some sort of political punishment, e.g., agreeing that the parliament act does not apply to any agreement signed with the EU, which means the lords can block bills like this indefinitely, oh and stop him appointing new lords as well), and then basically wait on the naughty step for a few weeks, before talks are allowed to resume. And if so much as one tabloid story comes out suggesting the government is being insincere, talks are suspended again, compensation is requested and further punishments applied and so on.
And the US should do the same. In fact I’d suggest both the US and the EU should quietly lean on other government’s (such as Japan) and let it be known that if they were to proceed with trade talks (or ratify any agreed deals into law) that this will be seen as an unfriendly act, which will result in political consequences (don’t come looking for favours if you get into a mess).
The Tories are spoil little brats, used to getting their way. They need to learn a lesson in respect and that their actions have consequences. If they chose to do so the hard way, well so be it.