The old adage that something which looks too good to be true probably is too good to be true was never more easily proven than by the latest act of stupidity by the motley convocation known as Leave EU, another of those campaigns caught breaking the law in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum. They have made a claim which is so false, it should be obvious to all concerned. Instead, their followers have lapped it up.
Ever on the lookout to rubbish Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and indeed any deal struck with the hated EU, Leave EU has cast around for comparisons, in order to show the PM’s deal in the worst possible light. But, given this is a withdrawal agreement, and no other country has ever withdrawn from the EU, there is no comparator available. Or is there?
Leave EU has decided that there is. “Japan's done a free trade deal with the European Union. They don't have to give up their borders, their money, their own international trade policy, or their sovereignty. Makes you think!” tells their Twitter feed. The graphic clearly compares the £39 billion to be paid as part of the withdrawal agreement to Japan not making an upfront payment as part of a trade deal.
But enough: let’s call this stupidity for what it is. The agreement struck between the EU and Japan is a free trade deal. It does not facilitate better customs arrangements, or other non-trade barriers to frictionless trade. It is, to repeat once more, a trade deal.
Now, consider the agreement with which it is being compared. The agreement proposed between the UK and the EU is a withdrawal agreement. IT IS NOT A TRADE DEAL. Did everyone get that? IT IS NOT A TRADE DEAL. The trade deal between the UK and the EU to come into force after withdrawal has yet to be negotiated. That comes AFTER the withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement is not a trade deal.
This means that the EU-Japan deal and the UK-EU withdrawal agreement are not, repeat not, REPEAT NOT, comparable. To make them so is the most basic, fundamental, crass and utterly stupid kind of elementary mistake. And Leave EU just made it.
Worse, the likes of alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit” Arron Banks have Retweeted this idiocy. Worse still, the convocation of the terminally batshit otherwise known as Breitbart has put together a whole article on the subject. Breitbart buffoon Jack Montgomery tells readers “Japan has finalised a long-delayed free trade agreement with the European Union - without having to join the bloc’s Customs Union, submit to its Free Movement immigration regime, or pay it tens of billions of euros”.
No, Jack, because it’s a trade agreement, not a withdrawal agreement which seeks to retain frictionless trade - which Japan has not secured as part of its deal. Japan does not have financial commitments to the EU which it is obliged to honour. Also, the UK-EU withdrawal agreement will end free movement. But details, eh?
That is the level to which the Europhobic propagandists have now sunk. Comparing deals, any deals, as if they were alike. And their misguided followers lap it up.
This is not the politics of reason. It is the politics of spivs, cheats and liars.
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