Friday, 7 July 2017

Brexiteer playing a desperate patriot game

From my Daily Record column today
GENERALLY, when politicians start attacking the media it is a sure sign that they are losing the argument.
So when Liam Fox, the biggest Brexiteer out of East Kilbride, perhaps the only one, claimed yesterday that "some elements" want the UK to fail in negotiations with Brussels, it had the aroma of a desperate, sweaty summer shirt about it.
Remember Andrea Leadsom's recent claim that broadcasters should be more "patriotic" during Brexit?
That gave me the same uncomfortable feeling as the Scottish Government "contacting" the boss of Highland Spring after he made less than complimentary remarks about a second independence referendum, which were then retracted.
Cornered by critics, or even by reality, these who share more common nationalistic fervour than they'd care to admit, start drinking the Kool-Aid instead of bottled water in an attempt to silence anyone they view as less patriotic than themselves.
Fox, a trade minister idling in the shallows with no real job to do unless there is a hard Brexit, is desperate.
The vote has been won but the kind of Brexit he wants is still a far shore.
Fox fancies himself as a buccaneer on the high seas of free trade, with Britain reborn as a mercantile nation plying the oceans of fortune.
In the wee hours of the night, the former defence minister might even dream of the Royal Navy's two supercarriers as Britain's enforcers in far-off oceans.
Quick as they can be fitted, I suspect these carriers will be sent to far-off oceans, to the Sea of China, helping the US try to maintain a fragile global dominance in Asia's cauldron as the balance of power shifts eastwards.
Squeezed by the trading power and military muscle of a burgeoning China and a protectionist second-term Trumpian America (oh yes) Britain is going to be tossed on the waves like the balsawood Kon-Tiki raft.
Perhaps Fox can't see that but most other people can. That is why big business, in the form of the CBI, is at last weighing into the Brexit debate, having been as mute as the millennial generation during the actual referendum campaign itself.
Last night, the CBI called for a slow transition out of the EU single market and the customs union, for which read business does not want to leave the biggest trading block in the world at all.
Combine that with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warning the same day that it would be impossible for the UK to have frictionless trade with the EU if it left the single market and the skies darken for Brexiteers.
It may well be that the EU will offer Britain such a bad deal that the economic madness of leaving Europe will become apparent even to the Kool-Aid gang.
It may be that the combination of the awakened youth vote and the influence of business will sway the political mood and that (somehow?) Jeremy Corbyn will see the light on Europe too. Maybe.
A year on from the vote, Brexit still looks like the biggest act of economic self-sabotage a country could inflict on itself. The real patriots are the ones who will carry on saying it.

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