Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Shrill refusal to recognise the obvious

The US and the EU are on the verge of concluding a comprehensive trade deal – TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Personally I don’t like it (I think it gives too much power to corporations and am worried about the possible impact on the NHS – despite assurances to the contrary.)

But this does not push me towards the Leave camp. Most members of the leave camp are the sort of people who would welcome the aspects of TTIP that I dislike!

It has however taken years to negotiate. So realistically what will happen if we leave the EU?

I find it unlikely that having spent years negotiating a deal between the EU and the US that either of those partners will be willing to do something similar for the UK and the US (or the UK and the EU). They might say that for a price they will allow us to join TTIP (as “associates” rather than as one of the two contracting parties – sort of “pay but no say”). Alternatively they might make us wait. At best they might open negotiations, but I can see no reason why they would prioritise negotiations over say the implementation of the main TTIP between the US and EU (rEU?) or the corresponding TPP with the pacific countries.

So Obama’s possibly inflammatory remark that we would go to the back of the queue seems realistic – if blunt.

It is fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement but it is not going to happen any time soon, because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc – the European Union – to get a trade agreement done and UK is going to be in the back of the queue. [Transcript of video]
BBC News Website, 22 April 2016 | Barack Obama says Brexit would leave UK at the ‘back of the queue’ on trade

The Quitters seem incensed by this remark – understandably since it goes contrary to everything they want us to believe – that as the fifth biggest economy the US will want to talk to us.  This is ignoring the fact that the EU is a bigger economy and that the US for economic and political reasons will rank the EU economy above the UK economy. They don’t get it:

Mr Obama said: “The UK is at its best when it’s helping to lead a strong European Union. It leverages UK power to be part of the EU. I don’t think the EU moderates British influence in the world, it magnifies it.
BBC ibid

So the Quitters “play the man”:

Mr Raab told BBC News: “The reality is the US has failed and Barack Obama’s biggest trade failure has been in not being able to secure a trade deal with the EU.

… What you had here was a lame-duck American president doing an old British friend a political favour.” .
BBC ibid

Mr Johnson said [in an article in the Sun] the removal of a bust of Churchill from Obama’s office was seen by some as a sign of an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”. …

Churchill’s grandson, Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames, who is campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, called the article “deplorable” and “completely idiotic”. …

But UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended the comments, saying: “I think Obama, because of his grandfather and Kenya and colonisation, I think Obama bears a bit of a grudge against this country.”

Stories about the removal of the Churchill bust were described by the White House in 2012 as “100% false”.

“The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room,” a senior adviser said in a rebuttal.
BBC News Website, 22 April 2016 | Obama hits back at Boris Johnson’s alleged smears

It’s shrill and devalues the debate and if reported abroad does nothing for our reputation – and if we quit we will need friends.

And the BBC because of its requirement to be balanced – gives time to these Quitters’ comments!

The quality of this “debate” is so abysmal that I suspect many are being switched off – I have given up on Question Time, the Daily Politics and the Today Program – at least until the 23 June.

The danger of course is that with the Quitters being more rabid, they are less likely to be switched off and will remain engaged – and eventually vote and take us out of the EU.

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