As the airlift of holidaymakers continues following the collapse of Thomas Cook, with another 16,500 due back in the UK today, so the blame game begins. Many of today’s papers believe - mistakenly - that had the company’s management not taken a total of almost £50 million in pay and bonuses, all might be well. It wouldn’t. Others wonder why the UK Government did not step in and act as a guarantor of last resort.
And it is with the bail-out question that the Brexiteers have come to the fore, with the Telegraph’s increasingly wayward pundit Allison Pearson deciding that, at the end of the proverbial day, it was the rotten EU’s fault all along. Sadly, as with so much else, she is talking out of the back of her neck. And also lying badly.
After Labour’s Rebecca Long Bailey had questioned the decision not to tide Cooks over with a cash injection of £200 million, given the costs of the operation to bring all those holidaymakers home, Ms Pearson asserted “The EU’s state aid directive forbids a government bailing out a company. That’s the EU in which Labour wishes to Remain. Possibly”. No citation, and for a very good reason. Because she’s wrong.
But she did have someone prepared to back her up. Margot Parker responded supportively “Spot on Allison I'm astounded that labour MPs don't know the basics about EU membership and the state aid directive! #Terrifyingignorance”. Sadly, Ms Parker, as a former UKIP MEP, was the terrifyingly ignorant one.
And despite Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, another screamingly right-wing pundit (and Islamophobic to boot, as Zelo Street regulars may recall) telling Ms Pearson that the French Government managed with EU state aid rules, all the Tel’s finest could muster was “The trouble is the UK has tended to obey EU rules! Unlike other member states”.
Ah, that old canard. We’re the only ones playing by the rules. Except this, too, is complete bunk, as Mike Galsworthy pointed out to her: “The EU does not forbid it. Govt could have rescued TC under two routes: 1) commercial purchase of shares or 2) under state aid guidelines for airlines, agreed with EC”. And there was more.
Alexander Rose informed Ms Pearson “I’m a State aid lawyer and there are ways to intervene in [Thomas Cook] within [State aid] law … The relevant politicians have therefore been free to make a choice as to whether the UK should intervene. The politicians have decided no”. Ms Pearson can’t, and won’t, focus on the real culprits, because that would mean calling out the Government her paper shamelessly supports.
Meanwhile, The Prole Star put that £200 million in context. “Tories: [Yes] £1.5 billion to bribe the DUP to keep us in power … [Yes] £2 billion for no-deal Brexit preparations … [No] £200 million to save 9000 British jobs and not leave 155,000 people stranded … Tory Priorities? Tories”. And Paul Bernal had a question for The Great Pundit.
“Question: does Allison Pearson ever tweet anything that’s actually true?” Well, providing it accords with her screamingly anti-EU, right-wing mindset, perhaps. Otherwise, doubtful.
Pundits need not know what they are talking about. Allison Pearson just proved it. Again.
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