For many weeks now Brexit was a non-issue for the MSM. Too many reports on CV-19 had to be published, too many articles like “My Lockdown Diary” or “My Lockdown Yoga” needed space, too many stories on the police doing their duty by enforcing Lockdown rules with fines, on teachers being frit to go back to teach, on wimminz moaning that they can’t go back to work because their kids can’t go to school – this is the fault of employers, you understand, not the teachers unions – and this past week, too many stories and reports on Dominic Cummings needed to be published.
Remainers hoped that the Lockdown would hide their latest attempts to keep us In. On June 12th there’s the 2nd reading of that Bill aimed at forcing Johnson to beg for an extension which wasn’t worth mentioning. There’s also the planned visit of Johnson to meet the EU heads on June 11th, and there’s of course the deadline of June 30th: the day when Johnson must ask for that extension.
It’s illuminating to note how ‘our MSM’ are now reporting on Brexit., ‘despite CV-19’. RemainCentral has one article this morning, but the eye-catching title “Teflon Dom Cummings sets his sights on one thing only: Brexit” is hugely misleading. It’s yet another collection of ‘sources’ telling RemainCentral writers why Cummings did wrong, why he should go, that he’s ‘vindictive’ – bla blah blah. This is the only paragraph in that article actually mentioning Brexit:
“So far little media attention has been paid to how a second spike in infection this autumn will interact with the present Brexit timetable. Some Brexiteers expect officials and interest groups to argue that the UK cannot both fight the virus and prepare to leave the EU without a trade deal.” (link, paywalled)
There you have the future Remain ‘argument’: “extension now because there possibly might be a 2nd CV-19 spike”. It’s irrelevant that there’s no medical consensus about this spike because original research, untainted by papers from China, hasn’t been done and has been made impossible. We wrote about this yesterday. This latest Remain ‘Project Fear’ point is that it could happen then, therefore we must beg the EU now.
It’s irrelevant for Remain that by autumn the economies of our country as well as of the whole EU will have tanked. We are instead given ‘learned’ analyses by ‘experts’ who are all employed by pro-EU Think Tanks. More on those below – first, there’s an interesting report in the DT – desperately clinging to their Leave credentials – describing that the €urozone economy is sliding into a deflationary spiral and that the ECB will have to do more (link). Between the lines one can read that more money-printing is needed, else we’ll see a ‘japanification’ of the €urozone’s economy and presumably of ours as well, especially if we Remain.
Now to the real, heavyweight ‘experts’! The first lot are warning of a WTO outcome should talks break down. They are Professor Catherine Barnard, senior fellow UK in a Changing Europe and Professor Anand Menon, director of UK in a Changing Europe. Writing in the DT they explain:
“ […] a breakdown in the negotiations cannot be ruled out. Were that to happen, trade between the UK and the EU would be carried out ‘on WTO terms’. […] Trade with the EU will become more difficult and more expensive. Tariffs will be charged, checks carried out, and service exports potentially rendered unviable. UK exports to the EU would be liable to tariffs.” (paywalled link)
They would say that …! We must apparently avoid a breakdown of the talks at all costs, even at the cost to our Fisheries, unto accepting Barnier’s ‘level playing field’ because WTO rules are so very dreadful, so very scary! However, a week ago our friends at facts4eu published an inconvenient analysis on our trade with the EU. This report was therefore available to those EU Think Tank ‘experts’. They didn’t take a blind bit of notice, for example of this:
“It is well-known fact that around 46% of the UK’s goods exports go to the EU. This figure drops to 43% if services are included. – It is a lesser-known fact that a percentage of the UK’s “EU exports” in fact merely transit through Dutch and Belgian ports on their way to the rest of the world. The true percentage for “EU exports” is therefore lower than reported. – One fact which is NOT known is that the UK’s exports to the EU represent a very small proportion of the UK’s economy as a whole. – The effect of EU exports on our economy is so small in fact, that the economic effects of the Coronavirus measures will dwarf any possible Brexit impacts on GDP.” (link)
As always, do read the whole thing! Next, looking at two Brexit reports in The Express we note that both articles, published early this morning, are about dire warnings by ‘experts’ should the talks break down. They’re padded with identical passages on the background to the talks. The first article starts thus:
“Boris Johnson could “blink at the last minute but present it as a win” as post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU threaten to collapse that could result in a disastrous no deal scenario for both sides, political experts have warned.” (link)
There’s nothing on how Johnson will blink, but, scrolling all the way down, we find the ‘expert’:
“Tim Bale, deputy director of the UK in a Changing Europe think tank and professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London told Express.co.uk: “Talks could collapse but it’s in both sides’ interest to keep the negotiations going in the hope that they can come up with something at the eleventh hour. The UK could walk away but that would be unwise – both diplomatically and economically.” (link)
Note that this is another ‘expert’ from that “UK in a Changing Europe” set-up. Why it’s ‘unwise’ for us to walk away given the intransigence of Barnier is never explained. That Barnier might blink is obviously inconceivable.
The second article by the same author, published a few hours later, has even more desperate-sounding warnings from different ‘experts’, professors at various universities which I didn’t know even existed, for example:
“The UK desperately needs a comprehensive post-Brexit free trade agreement with the EU more than Brussels requires it with London, political experts have warned, as the impact of a no deal scenario could be “far more severe” for Britain.” (link)
Is this a new ‘Project Fear’ in the making? There are some captivating explanations, such as this one by a lecturer in one of Leeds’ universities, on why we cannot afford to let the talks break down:
“The pandemic has exposed the UK’s dependence on migrant workers and on uninterrupted supply chains concerning food, medical and protective equipment.” (link)
He’s apparently not noticed that this applies to all the EU member states – but that is, of course, irrelevant. The assessment of yet another ‘expert’ takes the proverbial though:
“Professor de Ruyter warned the EU will not change its negotiating stance in trade talks and is extremely unlikely to relent in the areas because of the risk the single market could “unravel” as a consequence.” (link)
In other words: if we don’t accept Barnier’s demands the EU ‘s single market will be in dire trouble. No matter that FTAs with other countries don’t have ‘level playing fields’, no matter that there’s not even a level playing field inside the EU when it comes to state aid – see this report in facts4eu – it’s apparently our duty to help the EU solve their problems by caving in.
But surely, “The Frenchman” is going to be helpful and conciliatory, non? Not according to this report, on the usual Barnier tantrum that we, the Brits, don’t understand Brexit and that he
“[…] will not back down in his demand for a regulatory level-playing field, which will see Britain made to sign up to large swathes of EU rules. “The question of changing the mandate of the European Union does not arise at all,” Mr Barnier told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.”I remind you that the UK will leave the internal market and the customs union after leaving the European Union. We continue to set the conditions for access to our own market.” (link)
So no concessions by our Michel then. Meanwhile, the ‘give us your fish and we’ll concede something on the financial service industries’ ploy has been resurrected by the Taoiseach. That was slapped down by David Frost:
“Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator has ruled out any deal giving European boats access to UK waters in return for better conditions for British financial services in the EU’s Single Market.” (link)
And finally: an analysis of what an extension would cost us. It’s just out and it’s of course by our friends at facts4eu. Read it here. The sums are truly painful. Of course there would be no rebate for us on offer: we’d have to pay the whole whack of the Danegeld, on top of paying for the eye-watering sums Rishi Sunak has borrowed to keep the Lockdown economy going.
Perhaps someone ought to ask those EU Think Tank research fellows to explain how our economy would fare under the financial burden caused by an extension. Perhaps they might explain why trading under WTO rules would be dire only for us, not for the EU. No – don’t hold your breath!
Enjoy the Lockdown sunshine while it lasts and