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Response to JHan (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 15, 2017, 08:33 AM

43. Globalization is reality.

There's no escaping it without withdrawing into total isolationism, which even the current UK Tory government and the Brexit campaign (inasmuch as it was coherent) isn't proposing. The question is how to manage it, and in whose interests.

As things stand, it looks like the UK standing alone will be managing it in favour of big business and multinational corporations in desperation to make up for the likely loss of trade with the EU (note that May was one of Trump's first high-profile visitors after he took power). In the initial negotiating stances, it's actually the EU that's trying to put a shot across the UK government's bow by suggesting there would be penalties for imposing a low-tax/low workers' rights offshore money laundering regime that would lead to unfair competition with EU countries.

So much mythology had built up about the EU (which undoubtedly, like any polity, has flaws and needs reform, and always will) that it was impossible to counter it effectively in the hurly-burly of a highly charged campaign.

Where did some of these most persistent myths originate? Well, one major factor was Boris Johnson, our current Foreign Secretary. Here's Martin Fletcher, a journalist who worked alongside Johnson in Brussels:

Johnson, sacked by The Times in 1988 for fabricating a quote, made his mark in Brussels not through fair and balanced reporting, but through extreme euro-scepticism. He seized every chance to mock or denigrate the EU, filing stories that were undoubtedly colourful but also grotesquely exaggerated or completely untrue.

The Telegraph loved it. So did the Tory Right. Johnson later confessed: 'Everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this I suppose rather weird sense of power.'

Johnsonís reports also had an amazing, explosive effect on the rest of Fleet Street. They were much more fun than the usual dry and rather complex Brussels fare. News editors on other papers, particularly but not exclusively the tabloids, started pressing their own correspondents to match them. By the time I arrived in Brussels editors only wanted stories about faceless Brussels eurocrats imposing absurd rules on Britain, or scheming Europeans ganging up on us, or British prime ministers fighting plucky rearguard actions against a hostile continent.

Much of Fleet Street seemed unable to view the EU through any other prism. It was the only narrative it was interested in. Stories that did not bash Brussels, stories that acknowledged the EUís many achievements, stories that recognised that Britain had many natural allies in Europe and often won important arguments, almost invariably ended up on the spike.


It's not so much that governments felt they didn't have to explain EU policy decisions to the electorate. It suited the UK government to have the EU as a scapegoat for all the ills besetting the country - a handy distraction from the mindless fetish of austerity, and lack of investment and vision, especially in the wake of the 2008 crash.

And even if the EU or the UK government felt like justifying and explaining policy developments (the EU does run websites and other forms of outreach in an attempt to explain itself, and some decent MEPs do try to communicate with their constituents), as outlined above, it would be a severely uphill task getting the media to provide informative coverage. There were furious howls from the Brexit campaign during the referendum when Cameron belatedly published a booklet circulated to all households setting out the advantages of EU membership.

Little Englanders think the UK (they'll often slip and call the UK England) is an exceptional country, and hark back to the Empire, pounds, shillings and pence, imperial measurements, and a time when non-white faces in their localities were rarer than they are now. They think the UK is so exceptional that it should have all the perks of EU trade without adhering to the Four Freedoms. Apparently theirs is the only voice that matters at the moment, as the rest of us are constantly being told to sit down and shut up. We're disenfranchised, so let's talk about sovereignty.

Ex-minister under Thatcher Michael Heseltine (I'm no fan, but he's right on this) described triggering Article 50 as "the biggest sacrifice of British sovereignty that I can remember:

Jack Jazz @JackkJazz

#Article50 #PMQs The reality of Brexit

We will still be subject to EU regulations and laws if we want to trade with it as a bloc, but we won't have any say in shaping them. Even if we go for the last-ditch WTO rules option if we can't agree trade deals with the EU, we'll still be beholden to others making the rules, and freedom of movement for employment will still be one of the strictures.

Meanwhile, the Great Repeal Bill proposed by the Tories will adopt all EU laws into British legislation, meaning the government can then pare away at any aspects it doesn't like (those that stand in the way of business interests and the Tories' ambition for consolidating long-term rule) by statutory instrument without any parliamentary scrutiny beyond, if we're lucky, a token debate or two.

Already, after months of saber-rattling, May and her sorry team of negotiators are backtracking and grudgingly acknowledging that the holy grail of a "hard Brexit" is impractical and there are strong limits to what the EU will be willing to concede in negotiations. The results will likely please nobody, as the government has acknowledged that even immigration, that great red herring, is unlikely to reduce significantly in the medium term, and it still has no more idea of the economic and unintended consequence costs of Brexit than it did during the referendum campaign.

And yes, you're right, it was idiotic and the height of irresponsibility to try to distill all these complexities into a simple yes/no question before any details had even been considered (our civil service was forbidden by Cameron from committing any contingency plans to paper), let alone worked out.

Now, on a daily basis, when not parroting the facile "Brexit means Brexit", the vote is being used to justify everything from leaving the Single Market (which we were reassured repeatedly, publicly and in parliament, during the campaign was not going to happen, so there was no point in even discussing it) to draconian steps to limit the rights of EU nationals living in the UK which will cripple our NHS and many of our industries (those we have left) - that process has already started as people are leaving the UK because of all the uncertainty and the general sense of hostility and being unwelcome.

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Arrow 46 replies Author Time Post
DonViejo Apr 2017 OP
JHan Apr 2017 #1
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2017 #5
progree Apr 2017 #14
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2017 #17
progree Apr 2017 #18
JHan Apr 2017 #24
JHan Apr 2017 #20
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2017 #25
Ghost Dog Apr 2017 #35
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2017 #37
Ghost Dog Apr 2017 #40
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2017 #28
LineLineLineLineNew Reply Globalization is reality.
Denzil_DC Apr 2017 #43
JHan Apr 2017 #46
randome Apr 2017 #6
cstanleytech Apr 2017 #11
Wounded Bear Apr 2017 #21
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2017 #26
JHan Apr 2017 #22
Denzil_DC Apr 2017 #44
JHan Apr 2017 #45
Blue_Tires Apr 2017 #15
maxsolomon Apr 2017 #2
byronius Apr 2017 #13
Denzil_DC Apr 2017 #3
Raster Apr 2017 #4
tikka Apr 2017 #8
Hekate Apr 2017 #16
DetlefK Apr 2017 #7
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bronxiteforever Apr 2017 #9
Post removed Apr 2017 #12
Hekate Apr 2017 #19
kydo Apr 2017 #23
Sen. Walter Sobchak Apr 2017 #27
OnDoutside Apr 2017 #30
regnaD kciN Apr 2017 #33
OnDoutside Apr 2017 #41
OnDoutside Apr 2017 #29
LittleBlue Apr 2017 #31
regnaD kciN Apr 2017 #32
Voltaire2 Apr 2017 #34
Ghost Dog Apr 2017 #36
JHan Apr 2017 #38
Ghost Dog Apr 2017 #39
JustABozoOnThisBus Apr 2017 #42
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