Covid-19: UK Withdrawal from the EU Single Market Must Be Postponed to 2023 584


The enormous economic impact of the reaction to Covid-19 is plain for all to see. The effect on economies – which had barely recovered to 2008 levels after the great Banker Theft crisis – is enormous. You cannot just close down businesses and expect them all to restart three months later. Plus the hit to personal finances is going to result in a huge and lasting reduction in consumer demand, exaggerated by what I predict will be a much higher propensity to save against future disaster. Even optimistic economists are expecting a 15% drop in GDP and slow recovery. At recent levels it is going to take some seven years of compound economic growth to recover that.

I always argued that England and Wales should leave the EU as had been democratically decided by the electorate, and an Independent Scotland should not as similarly decided. My personal enthusiasm for the EU’s political institutions disappeared after their enthusiastic backing for the repression in Catalonia. But I also always believed, and still believed, that a hard Brexit was madness and that a Norway or Switzerland style relationship made sense – which approximates fairly well to the position the UK currently is in until the transition period ends at the turn of the year.

To leave the EU customs union and single market will be a massive short term economic dislocation. Even to consider doing this on top of the economic crisis caused by the reaction to Covid-19 ought to be unthinkable and I suspect that it is. There is no way that the UK can crash out of the single market in January 2021 in these circumstances, and I suspect that even this Westminster government may be forced to admit that soon.

I might add that the government measures to alleviate the economic impact of covid-19 in the UK are going to run aground in a fog of inertia, largely as the result of the UK having crippled its own bureaucratic machine though a decade of extreme cuts to staffing and capabilities. I myself tried to organise a COVID business interruption loan for the music festivals, and after many hours of effort was finally told by Natwest Bank that the regulations state that:

1) If the bank would normally grant the loan on commercial terms, it must do so without the government COVID guarantee
2) The bank may not grant the loan unless it would normally do so on commercial terms

Which means it is impossible to get the government’s purported loan guarantee. I assumed this was just Natwest being obstructive, but then I discovered this is precisely what the government scheme says.

Not so much Covid 19 as Covid 22. The actual effect in practice will be that the only people able to access the billions in government guaranteed funds for business interruption will be very wealthy Tory businessmen who don’t actually need the money. The sad thing is, that is not in the least surprising.

One thing of which we can be certain is that the depression will be used by the Tories to bring in another decade of austerity, of further abandonment of the economic potential of the state actor, and of attacks on the living standards of the poorest in society. It is important now to start working on a counter-plan of economic planning and investment to build a fairer and greener economy, with much more localism and resilience, once the current crisis has passed. Here in Scotland, that can show the alternative path which Independence can bring; in the rest of the UK it can bring a new focus for societal resistance to the Tories. Empathy, solidarity, localism and resilience are all virtues that are not valued by neo-liberalism. That society is rediscovering them could yet open the way to a brighter future.

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584 thoughts on “Covid-19: UK Withdrawal from the EU Single Market Must Be Postponed to 2023

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  • Steve Wheeler

    Not sure that’s what the regs are saying, in which case maybe Natwest have misinterpreted. Surely they are intended to say:

    – If, even during this crisis, the bank would be willing to lend money on normal commercial terms (e.g. a company making ventilators, or food), it will.

    – If it is not so willing, but would have been were the crisis not in effect, it can use the scheme.

    The will/can/should element is ambiguously drafted, though.

    • Ken Kenn

      Could be.

      The main thing I spotted was that no ‘personal’ guarantees (i.e. guarantors ) will be asked for.

      This suggests that a charge against your house or other assets could be held as collateral for a loan.

      So far Big banks score = 320 bn – the self employed and gig workers have to fill in forms and wait until the end of June 0.

      The PAYE fixture will be played at the end of April.

      100% for banks and Big Companies and 0% for everyone else.

      I could say it’s disgusting but 40 years of neo Liberal economic belief ahs led to this.

      As has all those voting Tory for all those years.

      Ironically those voters are now the most under threat.

      • Geoff

        “As has all those voting Tory for all those years.

        Ironically those voters are now the most under threat.”

        They’re only the most under threat, because it hasn’t been a threat but rather a reality to the likes of me and many many others, who long ago fell under the boot stamping on our faces forever,

  • Alex

    Do you really think the EU Referendum was “democratically decided”?

    I want to know why an *advisory* referendum, without a supermajority or other safeguards, that excluded EU citizen residents from voting (but allowed commonwealth citizens to vote) that was fuelled by dark money (whether Russian, Ulster, Far Right tea party or whatever), with election laws clearly broken (to a criminal standard of proof) and was based on almost total falsehoods… should ever be considered democratic.

    • Dan

      If the 2016 referendum were an athlete, it would have been disqualified and banned from international competition by now – and its medals awarded to the closest runner-up.

  • nevermind

    Your position is arguing for a soft Brexit with a Norway style relationship afterwards. What of the long term agreements that have been signed by this country? Have you got any insight into the negotiations at present?

      • Ros Thorpe

        Frankly I’m surprised you entertained the idea of it being anything other than a sham publicity stunt blindly peddled by the main stream media. This government is more or less a collection of lying charlatans.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,

    Where you say:-

    ” One thing of which we can be certain is that the depression will be used by the Tories to bring in another decade of austerity, of further abandonment of the economic potential of the state actor, and of attacks on the living standards of the poorest in society.”

    The pattern is quite predictable. As with the Reagan or Thatcher years, there is an incline towards deep laissez- faire policies which bring a façade of prosperity and a lot of political hype a la ‘you have never had it so good’ feeling. Then the boom period peaks and the deficit is worse and the aftermath has to be dealt with. Welcome 2008; and so we are heading along that same cycle and – as you correctly say – “to bring in another decade of austerity,” However, it is the very people, the voters, who vote in politicians who advocate, embrace and implement these policies which impact the poor the hardest.

    • David

      Despite the rhetoric neither the US nor the UK embraced laissez-faire under Reagan and Thatcher respectively. We haven’t seen anything approaching laissez faire since before World War 1.

      It would probably be fair to say that policies under Reagan and Thatcher were closer to laissez faire than under their immediate predecessors, but only in the sense that London is closer to the South Pole than Birmingham.

      We live in a kleptocracy and have done, irrespective of who has been in power, for a very long time.

  • Ros Thorpe

    All those clapping and banging pots for the NHS, voted Tory a few months back knowing that it would starve the NHS further and further and privatise it via the backdoor. Hypocrits one and all and would vote the same way tomorrow given a chance.

    • Jo Dominich

      Ros wholeheartedly agree. It also avoids deep scrutiny of the NHS doesn’t it – who have systematically reduced bed capacity to create teirs and tiers of non product management and administrative posts all highly paid of course. One Ward Manager who telephoned into a radio programme saying he had not noticed any abnormal or increase in normal ward activity was aggressively cut off! This blog is focussed on finding out the truth as it did so brilliantly in the Skripal fiasco. It can do so again here.

    • Wikikettle

      Ros Thorpe. My blood boils when those people who cared little for how the NHS was degraded over decades, now sing ‘save our NHS’ after voting for Boris and rejecting Jeremy. My contempt is for those Labour MP’s nearly all of them, who worked so hard to undermine their leader.

    • Anthony

      Dont forget Aunty Beeb. She was irritated during the election campaign when it leaked out that the Tories were already in talks to let US corporations carve up the NHS. So instead Aunty twisted it into a ‘Corbyn is Moscow’s Stooge’ scandal.

      Now Aunty’s back kidding everybody she cherishes the NHS.

      • jake

        Just watched the BBC Corona virus update…serious question…why was there an outside broadcast ? What bit of “stay at home” don’t these people understand?
        Also heard that Alistair Jack the Scottish Secretary has symptoms and is self-isolating and will be working from home. Serious question… since he can apparently work from home, why didn’t he do so last week?

        • Paul Barbara

          @ Mary March 28, 2020 at 16:20
          To paraphrase Ray Peterson (’60’ish), ‘Tell Laura I detest Her, Tell Laura I can’y wait to P*ss on Her Grave’.

    • Bramble

      All too true. The democratic will of the people is to destroy the people while awarding those who despise and exploit them absolute power. Would any one have predicted that in 1945?

    • David

      I’m not sure you’re being fair. I think most people are good and actually want the same thing – a fair and just society where all can lead fulfilling lives. Personally I have never voted either Tory or Labour. I believe that both sets of policies are flip-sides of the same coin, and neither holds the answer to our problems. But I am prepared to accept that the vast majority of people voting for both parties are not bad people, nor are they hypocrites, they are just people who (in my opinion incorrectly) believe that those policies are more likely to lead to a just society than the other party’s.

      And specifically I do not see why thinking that the NHS is a bad and inefficient way for a society to provide healthcare (which it is, although privatizing it a la the US system is probably no better and might even be worse) should disqualify one from supporting the doctors and nurses who work there in a crisis.

  • Tony M

    These festivals in time simply become the middle-classes roughing it for a few days, getting down with the kids, i.e. others of their ilk before going back their large detached homes in the leafy suburbs; they could just as well get drunk/pilled up/stoned/throw-up/smear their faces with animal-droppings in their own vast gardens with ubiquitous decking and quaint ‘antique’ features courtesy of B&Q, and save a bomb. All the music they’ve already got courtesy of Napster circa 2000. They could also hang some strips of meat from the trees to attract the midges, and have bonfires of snot-encrusted virus-harbouring books if they want their clothes reeking of smoke and their eyes smarting.

  • Jo Dominich

    Thank you Craig for this article. However, there can be no doubt the whole Covid-19 thing is dominated and perpetrated by massive hysteria perpetrated by the MSM and the Government. I have read several international financiers say that Sunak’s ‘measures’ are to stimulate the finance industry in the UK given that the Government has failed to secure ‘passporting rights’ for the City of London as part of the EU withdrawal agreement. I am having to sign on because I have been laid off but will be re-employed when businesses can return to work. It is also worth noting that on 19th March 2020 the Government declassified Covid-19 from being a High Consequence Infection Disease (HCID) to not being one – on the same day Boris introduced the draconian lockdown measures. This should put some perspective in. It is not a virus that has a high kill rate and most of the population just have mild symptoms. The science tells us that Covid-19 is the disease symptoms from SARS Covid 2 – for which there is already a vaccine. Figures need to be put in context of the 2013/2014 and 2016/2017 flu epidemics in which 28,000 died. Not for one minute, not one minute do I believe Boris or Matt Hancock have tested positive for the virus – what it does do is let them off having to face the public – after all a champagne charlie with a severe narcisstic personality disorder who has not ever in his life assumed one bit of responsibility and is a pathological liar – is not geared to dealing with responsibility and has spent his whole life avoiding it. There is so much fake news out there and propaganda which perpetrates fear without either facts or numbers is dangerous to our democracy – look at the Coronavirus Bill – Fascist Totalitarianism – we’re in! I think back to all the Government lies about the Skripals when Boris was Foreign Secretary – well, here we go again – propaganda, fear, fake news, lies and mass hysteria. This is not a government that can be trusted yet the old die hard The Sun, The Telegraph, The Times, The Express etc try to make it look as though this shit is real. It is not, it is no different to a normal flue epidemic.

    You are, Craig, an astute and sharp observer of the truth and esatablishment BS and lies. Keep up the good work.

    • Dan

      “Not for one minute, not one minute do I believe Boris or Matt Hancock have tested positive for the virus – what it does do is let them off having to face the public – after all a champagne charlie with a severe narcisstic personality disorder who has not ever in his life assumed one bit of responsibility and is a pathological liar – is not geared to dealing with responsibility and has spent his whole life avoiding it.”

      Upvote x 1000.

      Notice how all the previously accelerating criticism re rejected ventilators abated the instant that Johnson and Hancock went into “self-isolation”? This government has demonstrated time and time again its readiness to lie with impunity, and Johnson personally has demonstrated his own willingness to physically hide from difficult questions (remember the time he disappeared into an industrial fridge?). It’s also rather telling that Downing St is refusing to comment on whether Johnson’s (latest) partner is with him in the flat at Number 10: it would be sufficiently unintrusive – and indeed plausible – to say that she was with family/friends elsewhere. But if she’s still at Number 10, it would surely confirm that Johnson’s “diagnosis” is a lie, given that she’s approximately four months pregnant.

    • Tarla

      There’s been a palace coup and Johnson, Hancock and Sunak have been sidelined. Emailgate about the EU procurement and boy wonder Sunak’s diabolical self employed debacle was the final straw that broke the Tory grandees back and they ramped up their moves against Johnson.

      Gove can attempt to deflect and blame China for not saying earlier. A lie China informed WHO early January, which was far quicker than when mad cow disease rorke out in the UK.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/apr/25/mad-cow-disease-british-crisis

      The MSM, and in particular the Tory controlled BBC, are working overtime to protect Johnson and his government who are absolutely incompetent.

      Protect the NHS save lives get rid of the Tories.

      £6 million spaffed up the wall on a letter. It would be better spent on PPE rather than a publicity stunt.

  • djm

    Disappointing. Could you not shoehorn in more “Brexit Buzzwords” than “Hard Brexit” & “Crash out” ?
    Still, you did manage “austerity”.

    & btw, anyone quoting or referencing Spud Murphy on economics needs sectioning.

    Kind regards

    • Dan

      Disappointing. Could you not shoehorn in some actual arguments in place of snide remarks?

      & btw, anyone who still finds that “someone is wrong on the internet” cartoon either pertinent or amusing, let alone uses it as their avatar, needs sectioning.

      Kind regards

      • djm

        You might find this hard to follow, but here goes anyway..

        Ever since the threat posed by coronavirus came into focus, Europeans have displayed precious little of the high-minded multilateral solidarity that for decades has been sold to the rest of the world as a bedrock of European unity. The EU’s unique brand of soft power, said to be a model for a post-national world order, has been shown to be an empty fiction.

        In recent weeks, EU member states have closed their borders, banned exports of critical supplies and withheld humanitarian aid. The European Central Bank, the guarantor of the European single currency, has treated with unparalleled disdain the eurozone’s third-largest economy, Italy, in its singular hour of need. The member states worst affected by the pandemic — Italy and Spain — have been left by the other member states to fend for themselves.
        Ever since the threat posed by coronavirus came into focus, Europeans have displayed precious little of the high-minded multilateral solidarity that for decades has been sold to the rest of the world as a bedrock of European unity. The EU’s unique brand of soft power, said to be a model for a post-national world order, has been shown to be an empty fiction.

        The European Union, seven decades in the making, is now unravelling in real time — in weeks. After the dust of the coronavirus pandemic settles, the EU’s institutions will almost certainly continue to operate as before. Too much political and economic capital has been invested in the European project for European elites to do otherwise. However, the EU’s attraction as a post-national model for its own citizens, much less for the rest of the world, will have passed.

        Recent examples of the unilateral pursuit of the national interest by European leaders, many of whom publicly espouse globalism but in times of desperation embrace nationalism, include:

        France. On March 3, France confiscated all protective masks made in the country. “We will distribute them to healthcare professionals and to French people affected by the coronavirus,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. On March 6, the French government forced Valmy SAS, a face mask manufacturer near Lyon, to cancel an order for millions of masks placed by the UK’s National Health Service.

        Germany, March 4. Germany banned the export of medical protective equipment such as safety glasses, respiratory masks, protective coats, protective suits and gloves. On March 7, the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that German customs authorities were preventing a Swiss truck carrying 240,000 protective masks from returning to Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU. The Swiss government summoned the German ambassador to protest against the export ban. “In these contacts, the German authorities were urged immediately to release the blocked products,” a Swiss government spokesperson was quoted as saying. After facing a backlash from other EU member states, Germany on March 19 reversed course and lifted the export ban.

        Austria, March 10. Austria became the first EU country to close its borders to another EU country. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced controls along the border with Italy and a ban on the entry of most travelers from there. “The utmost priority,” Kurz said, “is to prevent the spread and thus importing the illness into our society. There is therefore a ban on entry for people from Italy into Austria, with the exception of people who have a doctor’s note certifying that they are healthy.” The government also announced a ban on all air or rail travel to Italy. Austria’s decision threatened to undo the so-called Schengen Area, which entered into effect in 1995 and abolishes the need for passports and other types of control at the mutual borders of 26 European countries.

        Slovenia, March 11. The government closed some border crossings with Italy and at those remaining open, had started making health checks to combat the spread of the virus.

        Czech Republic, March 12. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš closed the country’s borders with Germany and Austria and also banned the entry of foreigners coming from other risky countries. On March 22, the government said that the border restrictions may last for up to two years.

        Switzerland, March 13. The Swiss government imposed border controls with other European countries. Switzerland, although not a member of the European Union, is part of the Schengen zone.

        Italy, March 13. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde dismissed calls by Italy for financial assistance to help it cope with the pandemic. After her comments rattled financial markets, Lagarde said that the ECB was “fully committed to avoid any fragmentation in a difficult moment for the euro area.” Italian President Sergio Mattarella replied that Italy had a right to expect solidarity rather than obstacles from beyond its borders.

        Denmark, March 14. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen imposed border controls on all traffic by land, sea and air until at least April 13.

        Poland, March 15. The government closed the country’s borders to everyone except Polish citizens or people with a Polish residence permit.

        Germany, March 16. Germany, the largest and most powerful country in the European Union, introduced controls on its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The move came after Germany registered 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in just one day.

        Hungary, March 16. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán halted all passenger traffic into Hungary would be halted and only Hungarian citizens allowed to enter the country.

        Spain, March 16. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska decreed the establishment of controls at all land borders.

        Serbia, March 16. President Aleksandar Vučić declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus. He condemned the EU for restricting exports of medical equipment and appealed for help from his “friend and brother,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping. “European solidarity does not exist,” Vučić said. “That was a fairy tale on paper. I have sent a special letter to the only ones who can help, and that is China.” Serbia applied to become a member of the EU in 2009. Accession talks began in January 2014.

        Czech Republic, March 17. Czech authorities seized 110,000 face masks that China had sent to Italy. On March 23, the Czech Republic delivered the confiscated material to Italy. “There are 110,000 masks on board the bus as a gift to Italy, which is supposed to replace the material that was probably a Chinese gift for Italian compatriots,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Stichova.

        Germany, March 18. Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a rare televised speech, urged all Germans to obey rules aimed at reducing direct social contact and avoiding as many new infections as possible. “It is serious,” she said. “Take it seriously. Since German reunification, actually, since World War Two, there has never been a challenge for our country in which acting in solidarity was so very crucial.” Merkel’s address to the nation was the first time in nearly 15 years in office that she had spoken to the country other than in her annual New Year’s address. She did not mention the European Union or other EU member states.

        Belgium, March 22. The coronavirus has fueled tensions between Belgium, which is on lockdown, and the Netherlands, which is not. “In the Netherlands, shops are still open and meetings of 100 people are still allowed — these are breeding grounds for the virus,” said Marino Keulen, mayor of the Belgian border town Lanaken. Belgian authorities have set up barricades along the border and are ordering cars with Dutch license plates to turn around and return home. Keulen called the border checks a “signal to The Hague” to “quickly scale-up” its response and align with neighboring countries. “The Dutch government is incompetent and ridiculous in its response to the coronavirus crisis,” said Leopold Lippens, the mayor of Belgian seacoast town Knokke-Heist. “The Netherlands is doing nothing, so we have to protect ourselves.”

        Spain, March 25. After failing to obtain assistance from the European Union, the Spanish government asked NATO for help in acquiring 1.5 million face masks and 450,000 respirators. NATO lacks this material and is limited to passing the Spanish request on to the remaining 29 allies, many of which are also members of the EU.

        Poland, March 25. Polish authorities prevented hundreds of thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer from being exported to Norway,
        which is not a member of the EU. The Norwegian company Norenco manufactures and packages hand sanitizer for the Scandinavian market at a factory it owns in Poland. Norenco’s chief executive, Arne Haukland, said that after he applied for an export license, five men arrived at the factory, and demanded to be shown its stock of hand sanitizer. He said the company then received a letter ordering it to sell any hand sanitizer it had produced to the local city authorities in Lubin at a fixed price, under emergency coronavirus laws passed in Poland at the start of March. The seizure will exacerbate the supply problem faced by Norwegian hospitals.

        France, March 25. President Emmanuel Macron, in an address to the nation at a military hospital in the eastern city of Mulhouse, which has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, called for national, as opposed to European, unity: “When we engage in war, we engage fully, we mobilize united. I see in our country factors of division, doubts, all those who want to fracture the country when it is necessary to have only one obsession: to be united to fight against the virus. I call for this unity and this commitment.”

        And the reason the UK would seek to rejoin this shit show is ?

    • Paul Barbara

      @ DMZ March 28, 2020 at 15:11
      Reminds me of when the US used biological warfare against North Korea and China previously (yes, they have indulged previously!).

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      Well DJM please feel free to post up an article rebutting Spud Murphy’s articles point by point along with a little contextual, maybe some background academic stuff.Its not that you are definitely wrong but you attack the writer by your casual ad hominem and pejorative comment which destroys your credibility.If you don’t know it yet, it is high time you do- it is a feeble response. Please grow up.

  • Cubby

    Scotland needs to get out of this mad bad UK. We never vote for the Tories but do we get the effects of their policies – oh boy we get them alright – First to get the Poll Tax even though it goes against the Treaty of Union articles.

      • Magic Robot

        I listen to the official line from the doctors, at the link I provided. On the very same day this ‘virus’ was de-classified (by the doctors), Prime Minister Boris Johnson then announced measures unheard of in a supposed ‘democracy’ – ‘lockdowns’, threats, no freedom to work or take recreation. A curfew in all but name, and, if the rest of the world is anything to go by, soon to become martial law.
        So, yes ‘virus denier’ could become an arrestable offence.
        Still, in a few weeks, it’s rioting season, so, we shall see.

    • jake

      The virus is just as deadly after 19th March as it was before 19th March. It’s been downgraded because they haven’t got the protective equipment necessary for NHS staff ( and others) that the HCID classification requires.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ jake March 28, 2020 at 16:27
        Now THAT makes sense, like ‘genocides’ not being referred to as ‘genocides’ as that would require automatic action which the PTB don’t wish to occur.

  • Loony

    It would indeed be unthinkable for the UK to withdraw from the EU single market. Conversely not to withdraw would be tantamount to literal suicide

    https://abc14news.com/2020/03/21/macrons-france-seizes-lorries-carrying-130000-masks-to-uk-hospitals/

    I have little doubt that the British establishment will favor suicide – after all it remains the same mindset that starved millions of Irish in the potato famine and the same mindset that planned and executed the slaughter on the Somme.

    With friends like these death by virus is not the most pressing problem faced by the people

    • Tom Welsh

      Unless they are N95 respirators (and not just “masks”) 130,000 would be far more than needed. Ordinary surgical masks are worn by surgeons and nurses operating on patients, to prevent any saliva or other material from the medical staff infecting the patient. Surgical masks are designed to keep stuff in, not out, and it is pointless for ordinary people to go around wearing them.

      • Loony

        I have no idea what kind of masks they were. Clearly the French considered them to have value.

        In a number of countries the wearing of masks in public is mandatory. This is because keeping stuff in and not out is considered to be an effective way of preventing infected people from infecting others. The British and Americans take a different view – but naturally do not bother to explain the merits of their view.

        • Tom Welsh

          N95s are not off-the-shelf items. They are expensive, usually issued only to medical staff, and have to be fitted by experts to ensure an airtight seal.

    • Bramble

      Anyone who followed the story would know that the deliveries were subsequently sent on their way to the UK. It’s explained as a “misunderstanding”.

  • Peter

    “Covid-19: UK Withdrawal from the EU Single Market Must Be Postponed to 2023”

    I haven’t made a comment like this here before and I hope and expect not to do so again but I’m afraid I have to say:

    Complete and utter bollocks!

    I’m disappointed Craig, that at this point, of all the pressing issues, you choose to take this turn in response to the current crisis – the Brexit debate (and vote) is done.

    Like many unheard voices on the left I believe that in the present circumstances we are very lucky to be outside the EU.

    Yes, we will take an, as yet unclear, short to medium term hit to our overseas trade but the enormous advantage we will gain is that we will be able to compose our own economic response to that, and, especially, to the current crisis as best we see fit, unencumbered and unrestricted, much less directed, by the EU’s destructive juggernaut commitment to neoliberalism.

    I didn’t have to wait until the Catalonian debacle to recognise the profound problems with the EU. They were made graphically, and to me shockingly, plain by the EU’s merciless, and completely unnecessary, destruction of the Greek economy and public infrastructure during the financial and Euro crises.

    It is very clear that they did so in their support for, and in the interests of, the banking, financial and multinational sectors and against any threat to their neoliberal orthodoxy.

    Only last week the EU, in the midst of the current crisis, slapped a heavy fine on Italy for having the audacity to have an independent economic policy:

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/03/17/the-eu-is-treating-italians-with-contempt/

    “… I also always believed … that a Norway or Switzerland style relationship made sense …”

    The ‘Norway deal’ is the worst of all options because it leaves us still subject to the EU’s neoliberal laws and regulations without a seat at the table to discuss and ameliorate them – it means throwing away the advantages of being in the EU while also throwing away the advantages of being out. It really would make us an EU colony and an international laughing stock and would be a national humiliation.

    It is highly likely that much of the Labour Party manifesto at the last election would have been illegal under EU law. To the best of my knowledge this issue only arose once during the election when Robert Peston (of all people) put it to Corbyn on the day of the manifesto launch. Corbyn denied it would be so – I think he was just side-stepping the question.

    Already the EU is shaping up to force privatisation of the, as yet, unprivatised European railways. The notion that they wouldn’t have responded very heavily to Labour’s nationalisation and state investment programme is about as convincing as their denials that they were planning an EU military.

    The current crisis is, of course, laying waste to all economic orthodoxies.

    What is plain to see now is that when money is needed it can be found, that a government can do whatever necessary in the best interests of its country and citizens, and that, perhaps above all, it is best that we all work in the best interests of each other.

    Being free of the EU strait jacket and ball and chain enables us to do so all the better.

    • nevermind

      Peter, these problems have always existed since we joined. Did you then expect your politicians to reform or change the given parameters and the unjustified selection, rather than election, of top echelon Commissioners?

      Are you satisfied that some 3 million people did not have a say on the issues and or their future here, on this oh so holey referendum?
      If you are satisfied with it, please don’t call yourself an unheard voice on the left, you are not in favour of fairness at all.

      I believe that the issues in the EU will encourage change to the worse with more and more countries joining the right wing models that exist in Poland, Hungary, Germany and Israel, the unnamed EU country, which has now nested itself at the center of its power without having been ever elected to such position, but by guilt and finger pointing, as you have seen against Corbyn and those who dared to speak out against this evil cabal’s smear tactics.

      I used to be a Green Party member in Germany, sat and listened to Petra Kelly speak about unions and their deficiencies, that it was not about better wages and coloured screw drivers, but about participation on boards and transparency. The Greens spoke out against the machinations of unelected Commissioners from day one, but sadly the lefties could not see it over and above the piles of money they raked in, they never supported the Greens in anything, they thought that the green vote belonged to them were and are still interested in power for little more but keeping up appearances of the past.

      I hope that the EU will change from within in future, there are encouraging signs from newcomers and countries such a Switzerland who had enough of being usurped and regulated to suit others. There are also encouraging signs that the climate change agenda has woken up big business, except they can’t get their head around equality and sustainable practices yet.

      Craig’s position, as I understand it, is liberal, it is one of minimum harm to all and gradual change to a more Independent position, whilst a hard Brexit will be either suicide, or an entrance into the US state by the backdoor.

    • Jay

      Quote of week from @yanisvaroufakis after the Germans & Dutch obstruct Eurobonds

      “I don’t think the EU is capable of doing anything to us other than harm. I opposed Brexit but I have now reached the conclusion the British did the right thing, even if for the wrong reason”. Wow!

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Peter March 28, 2020 at 15:42
      So I take it you would rather be under the Orange Buffoon’s jackboot than the Brussels one?
      I’m afraid Uncle Sam has a worse record than Europe, and way beyond our league. At Least in Europe we were a pretty big fish.
      Let’s hope the ferry prices stay low, so we can, en occasion, pop over to France for some GMO-Free and Hormone-Free and Chlorine-Drenched Free grub.

      • Tom Welsh

        An incompetent local boss is usually better than a malicious remote central one. King Log v King Stork.

        “When I was a child, I thought as a child”. Then I was all in favour of world government – it usually worked in SF.

        Then I grew up and saw how insufficient Hanlon’s Razor can be. “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence”. But, as a wise man observed, any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinuishable from malice.

        The bigger the political entity or organization, the more money and power accumulates at the centre; and the bigger the shits who are attracted to all that money and power. The US government is usually run by even bigger shits than the UK government; the EU shits are more or less equivalent to the US ones, except that they are far less competent.

        A world government would be the ultimate political nightmare – much as foreseen by Huxley, Russell and Orwell 100 years ago.

        • David

          Well said indeed.

          The problem is power and its centralization and the shits, if I may borrow your term, who gravitate towards it. Whether they call themselves Tories or Labour, Republicans or Democrats, or even Craig’s beloved SNP they ALL act the same way with the same results.

    • Mighty Drunken

      The fine on Italy is for a case that started in 2018, the wheels of “justice” turn slowly. My understanding is that Labour’s manifesto is fine with EU law. For example, it is fine to nationalise train companies as long as their is competition. This can be done, even if it is a bit strange.

      The problem with freeing ourselves from the EU is where are we heading with the current government? I suspect somewhere worse than the EU. Where banking and finance are given free reign, while industries which produce real, beneficial goods are forgotten. The Conservatives appear to love the US and its freedom to treat workers like peasants while bailing out the rich.

  • David

    Please don’t call them wealthy Tory businessmen. The truly wealthy donate to both parties. They do so because they are wealthy corrupt businessmen, and they get to play no matter who is in power.

      • Tom Welsh

        If it’s true that “Corbyn wasn’t in their pay”, that’s why he will never have any political power.

        No one tries to drive a car that has no steering wheel.

      • David

        I agree Boris is. I don;t think we for certain that Corbyn wasn’t.

        And even if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered since he would have been surrounded by people who are.

        And worse than that, the ideology he apparently believes in, leads to an even more powerful state which is the underlying cause of all the corruption in the first place. Without power there can be no corruption. But create power, and corruption is inevitable.

        • Royd

          ‘And worse than that, the ideology he apparently believes in, leads to an even more powerful state which is the underlying cause of all the corruption in the first place. Without power there can be no corruption. But create power, and corruption is inevitable.’

          You are assuming David that power lies with the Government. I would postulate that it does not. The real power lies elsewhere and it uses its power to influence what Government does. Jeremy Corbyn was the enemy simply because he would not play by their rules. When he said ‘for the many, not the few’ he meant it and that set him apart.

  • Loony

    I wonder what motivates the plea that the UK should delay withdraw from the EU single market. Surely there must be a higher view than merely seeking to rub the noses of Italians into the proverbial Coronavirus.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/14/coronavirus-eu-abandoning-italy-china-aid/

    Or perhaps there is a desire that all guilty parties band together and collectively convince each other that Italians are not the kind of Europeans that the EU has in mind to show solidarity with.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Or perhaps there is a desire that all guilty parties band together and collectively convince each other that Italians are not the kind of Europeans that the EU has in mind to show solidarity with”.

      Like Greeks… and maybe soon Spaniards. And, of course, Turks.

      But not Israelis – who are the finest Europeans who can buy us with money.

  • Steve

    I knew it wouldn’t be long before the Remainers tried to use the crisis to further their old cause. The EU is a rotting corpse. Solidarity is a joke. If anything is left of the EU by the time this is over we are better off as far out of it as possible.

    • Republicofscotland

      “The EU is a rotting corpse. Solidarity is a joke”

      Actually the EU offered the hand of friendship to the UK with regards to procuring PPE, but Johnson slapped it away his hatred of Johnny Foreigner is legendary.

      Westminster is just as corrupt and fetid as the EU not to mention its 900 unelected troughers draining the taxpayer. I’d rather be in the EU and out of the UK.

  • pasha

    Society might be rediscovering empathy, solidarity, localism and resilience but the Tories aren’t and won’t. This government will fall through incompetence, stupidity and sheer ingrained Tory viciousness, but it will be a slow, agonizing process–for the 99.9%. We’ve had 40 years of this shit getting worse and worse; its death throes are going to be majestically nasty. Recall that the Tories will do, still do, and have done utterly despicable things and people still vote for them. Again and again.

    • Tom Welsh

      It has nothing to do with “Tories”, “Labour”, “Liberals”, “progressives” or any of that nonsense.

      Virtually all politicians are in the pay of the wealthy. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown masqueraded successfully as Labour politicians.

  • Giyane

    Speaking as someone who voted to leave the EU primarily to throw a spanner in the neocon European coalition that did over Greece, Cyprus, iraq , Libya and the countries of the Arab Spring, .. the longer the rats are squabbling in the sack, the better. Our financial loss is the world’s chance of survival.

    In addition, the mishandling and panic manifested by the silencing of Assange, the threatening of the EU with No Deal, the dividing of the electorate into good Employees and bad self-employed, the farce of Gove’s idea of paying farmers to make the countryside pretty, and general incompetence about this virus, is going to push China into prominence on the world stage.

    The Brexit dividend will be that nasty Europe including ourselves ) and nasty United States and nasty Israel will decline and fall, while a Middle East aligned to China get a chance to rebuild. Or as the qur’an says: ” We did not wrong them. Indeed they wronged their own selves. “

  • James

    Craig Murray – look – the priority here is beating the Tories first and foremost and that should have been the priority at the last election.

    Remaining in the EU or single market or customs union may – or may not – be a nice thing, but it should (or at least should have been) very much a secondary issue.

    The natural English Labour support base (in the north of England) showed, quite comprehensively, that the pro-EU argument – and also the pro-single market and pro-customs union argument had been lost.

    I believe that Corbyn would have done much better – and may even have won – if the Labour party had accepted that and acted accordingly.

    After all, Corbyn did rather well against May – especially in terms of numbers of votes – when the Labour party ran a manifesto that seemed to accept this.

    Priority 1 – beat the Tories. Everything else is insignificant compared with this.

    • Bramble

      It had nothing to do with anything as rational as an argument. The Red Wall hated freedom of movement, had hated it since EU migrants started to arrive and capped their decade long resentment and xenophobia by turning coat and voting for Johnson. As usual, the real villains of the piece, the employers who exploited the workforce, wherever the workers came from, sauntered off laughing.

      • James

        …. well, you may be right and you may be wrong about the motivation.

        I don’t think subscribe to the `thick and xenophobic proles’ theory: the EU was perceived as a capitalist plot – a theory which I subscribe to.

        Anyway – the argument to the contrary (that EU, single market and customs union could create a socialist paradise) was well and truly lost – and they should have accepted that (as they nominally did in the election against Theresa May – where they did very well).

        Another very important point – the whole business of in or out of the EU / single market / customs union is entirely trivial when faced with the fact that many people will lose their lives due to this Coronavirus.

  • Republicofscotland

    Johnson has strongly reiterated that he will not postpone the up and coming deal (or more likely no deal) with the EU. The hatred and loathing of Johnny Foreigner is such that he even slapped down the hand of the EU with
    regards to working cooperatively to fight Covid-19.

    As for Scotland, Westminster will never allow it to remain in the EU, our assets are to be bartered away in a EU deal that benefits England.

  • nevermind

    Should we bail out airlines who are largely responsible for this virus to spread around the world? Let us see who travels most by air? Is it the poor who might be able to afford one trip to the Costa Blancas cheap hotels once a year?. or is the rich, the businessmen and women who travel around the world at any time and have their jollies paid for by their own companies?

    No bail out for polluters who have caused harm and death to many thousands, they should be gracefully using their own money, or the interest gathered on it, to pay their employees!

    https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/opinion/coronavirus-uk-no-bailouts-except-green-bailouts/21/03/?fbclid=IwAR1Z8W0fh2FEt5jI1VhBCjC0dJSOoW2FOWir1Q6YAFuWf0I56-vn_9CRBi4

  • Jack

    UK is one of the well off nations in this world, they certainly do not need the EU.
    Besides we see now, during a crisis how bad EU really is.
    Why do you think the neo-liberal EU would care about the common man in the UK? Didnt folks learn on how the EU treat the common man when they pushed austerity on Greece?

    On some other news, Bill Gates:
    Entire country needs to shut down for 6-10 weeks to effectively fight coronavirus
    https://www.geekwire.com/2020/bill-gates-entire-country-needs-shut-6-10-weeks-effectively-fight-coronavirus/

    • Rhys Jaggar

      How about Bill Gates using his £50bn net weatlh to pay $1000 to 50 million US families?

      He can sit at home for the rest of his days.

      95% of Americans cannot pay their next rent cheque/mortgage payment without their next pay packet/cheque.

    • nevermind

      Ah yes the well off 1%, 3.5 million working parents needing to use food banks on on the poverty line, Highest gap between rich and poor.
      And what will this Tory fiefdom do about it, just open your eyes and look Jack, they have just done it again and they are contemplating taking airlines into the public sector, ruling the country with fines and house arrest until they see fit to stop it. No time frame on emergency powers?

      and not a peeps from the unions, as usual more concerned about their functionaries survival than the workers who face utter hardship if we leave by the end of the year. You are not another false redundant lefty. are you Jack?

      • Jack

        nevermind

        There are problems no doubt, but it could be far worse, my point is, if you worry about UK you shouldnt seek help from the EU where neo-liberalism and austerity rules.

          • Jack

            I am not pro a union with any country, the problem is inequality, the money is already there, no need to look at the EU or the US.

  • James

    I think the UK along with the rest of the the EU and the US are now totalitarian countries. Its down hill from here in in.

    • Republicofscotland

      So which countries aren’t totalitarian in your opinion? And do you think the likes of Russia or China are less totalitarian than the EU, the UK and the EU?

      My own opinion is that you’re lucky to live in the West, if indeed you do.

      • James

        Well I think the UK in particular deserves a totalitarian government. At least China produces things and their kids are good at maths. They get things done. UK is old and tired and ready for the funeral pyre

        • Rhys Jaggar

          Well, contrary to your personal opinion, most people in this country disagree with you.

          We did not sanction the decisions taken by rich folks, we still make far more than you think (we could never make anything like as much as China, their population is 25 times bigger than ours) and if you say our agriculture is ‘worthless’, you probably
          have not yet grasped that without food, you die.

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