But when it was Brillo who was summoned for interview by those on social media who detected an elementary economics gaffe from The Great Man, there was disappointment. His problems began over the issue of a free trade agreement between the UK and EU post Brexit, or the potential lack of one. One Tweeter asked him the obvious question.
“How will we do without a FTA with Europe?” What say Brillo to that? He seemed almost blasé: “The single market is the most sophisticated ‘FTA’ in the world. And we run a £95bn deficit with it. Not sure it’ll be any worse without one”. Whoops!
Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics at King’s College London, was unimpressed but not surprised. “Appalling economics from [Andrew Neil] here. Without an FTA with the EU, our exports *and* imports - and in all likelihood our trade deficit - will shrink. That will make us poorer and less productive, because trade - including imports - makes us richer. Literally Economics 101”. And there was more. Rather a lot more.
“More than four years after the Brexit referendum, and [Andrew Neil], one of our leading political journalists doesn't have the level of basic economic understanding i'd expect from an A-level student. Wish I could say I was surprised”. OUCH! Gavinder Pawar added a telling coda: “2020 has exposed the ignorance of our commentariat on multiple subjects, climate change, economics & clearly medicine and epidemiology. They do political gossip, that's it”. Many a true word, and all that. So what was Brillo’s blowback?
He was prompted, one Tweeter asking “Please respond to @jdportes rubbishing of your trade analysis”. But all that came back was “No idea what he's saying. Muted him couple of years ago. He's rude, dismissive, regards anybody who disagrees with him as an idiot and has a smug superiority which his own quotidian academic record does not justify. So let him howl in the wind”. Lack of self-awareness, much?
Two other Tweeters helpfully quoted Portes’ words to him. But comeback came there none. Obsessing over a negative trade deficit is not unlike vowing not to do your shopping at the local supermarket because they never buy anything from you. Of course there’s a trade imbalance. And you’d be all the poorer for taking your bat home.
The dominance of the airwaves by Andrew Neil was for a time, but not for all time.
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