The left-wing case for Brexit is becoming weird - GulfToday

The left-wing case for Brexit is becoming weird

Opinion-11-3

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May (left) arrives to attend a church service with her husband Philip. Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse

By James Moore

The logic of the Labour Party’s Lexiteers — proponents for a left-wing Brexit — ranging from Jeremy Corbyn to Caroline Flint, gets more tortuous by the day.  

I’m going to quote a recent tweet by Flint as an example, because it’s a doozy.

“Indications are that National and EU elections will lead to a more right wing EU. Who knows what that will mean for workers’ rights, health & safety, environment? We don’t want to follow EU down a backwards route through harmonisation if those standards reduced.”

So let me get this straight: a Brexit driven by a hard right-wing (some might say extreme right-wing) UK Tory government is just what we need to protect workers’ rights, health and safety and the environment from a European parliament that might get more right wing. You can see the problem with that. A child could see the problem with that. Flint apparently doesn’t. So let’s spell it out to her and her friends, and Jezza too, because he might be the worst of the lot of them.

In the midst of the Brexit tumult, the chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver his Spring Statement next week. He’ll likely tell us some of the usual fibs when he does so, claiming that the economy is going great guns and that there’ll be a Brexit dividend, even though he knows that it isn’t and there won’t.

There’ll also be details of the prime minister’s bribe for those left-behind Labour towns that supported Leave and their MPs. By contrast to Flint, John Mann and their mates, most of those towns haven’t been conned. They realise that the money, when spread across the UK, amounts to small change. It might buy the odd park bench but won’t even begin to replace the brutal cuts those towns have endured through a decade of austerity.  

If Theresa May tries to tip us off the cliff, however, the chancellor will have to rip it up and start again because things will get messy, and quickly. Or his successor will, because he might resign. But fear not, says the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing think tank that was a favourite of Margaret Thatcher – one of the politicians who took us into the EU and did much to create its wildly successful single market (she was a co-founder) — we can help you with that, they say. We can make it work!

Some of the centre’s report is fairly boilerplate stuff: cut business taxes (especially for small ones), slash tariffs, keep Britain open but be fiscally responsible unlike Labour (good luck there). This will apparently demonstrate that Britain backs business and growth, even though business has made it quite clear that leaving the EU will serve as the biggest impediment to both since… since… But never mind.

The key point for Lexiteers to consider, however, is the exhortation to, “at a bare minimum”, go for “an 18-month moratorium on new regulatory burdens” and to extend the (faintly ridiculous) “one in, three out” demand as regards to new rules from then on. This would be extended to the areas currently covered by the EU.

The report laments that “the government will, based on its past statements, be reluctant to dilute workers’ rights post-Brexit — and may continue to shadow EU standards on goods and agriculture in the hope of concluding a swift free trade agreement”.

But it says: “There are many further areas in which we could promote growth and attract investment.” They include the regulation of tax and financial services. So let’s scrap the cap on bankers’ bonuses, and why not throw out rules designed to prevent market abuse too? Roll the dice, casino capitalists, your time will come.  

The CPS also advocates scrapping the “precautionary principle” when it comes to biotech in favour of a “genuinely science-based approach”. As someone with a biosciences degree I’m in favour of science. Conservatives in the government, and outside of it, too often deny it or ignore it (hello climate change). But it’s never a bad idea to exercise caution with respect to the science behind biotech, so it doesn’t come back to bite you.

You could argue that the EU, and especially the UK, are often not cautious enough. You can still buy weedkillers based on glyphosate in the UK, and throughout the EU, despite the World Health Organisation designating it as a probable cause of cancer, for example; it’s a subject on which I’ve written extensively.

This will apparently demonstrate that Britain backs business and growth, even though business has made it quite clear that leaving the EU will serve as the biggest impediment to both since… since… But never mind.

The key point for Lexiteers to consider, however, is the exhortation to, “at a bare minimum”, go for “an 18-month moratorium on new regulatory burdens” and to extend the (faintly ridiculous) “one in, three out” demand as regards to new rules from then on. This would be extended to the areas currently covered by the EU.

The report laments that “the government will, based on its past statements, be reluctant to dilute workers’ rights post-Brexit — and may continue to shadow EU standards on goods and agriculture in the hope of concluding a swift free trade agreement”.

But it says: “There are many further areas in which we could promote growth and attract investment.” They include the regulation of tax and financial services. So let’s scrap the cap on bankers’ bonuses, and why not throw out rules designed to prevent market abuse too? Roll the dice, casino capitalists, your time will come.  

The CPS also advocates scrapping the “precautionary principle” when it comes to biotech in favour of a “genuinely science-based approach”. As someone with a biosciences degree I’m in favour of science. Conservatives in the government, and outside of it, too often deny it or ignore it (hello climate change). But it’s never a bad idea to exercise caution with respect to the science behind biotech, so it doesn’t come back to bite you.  You could argue that the EU, and especially the UK, are often not cautious enough. You can still buy weedkillers based on glyphosate in the UK, and throughout the EU, despite the World Health Organisation designating it as a probable cause of cancer, for example; it’s a subject on which I’ve written extensively.

The Independent

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