There can’t be many rational people who don’t see the similarities between the Brexit wing of the Tory Party and the Trumpian version of the Republican Party. There are the similarities between leading figures, Trump and Boris Johnson being the obvious one: apart from the rather silly blond hair styles both are egotists and liars and show precious little interest in policy making or politics apart from when they can be used to advance their own self-interest. Beyond that, both the Brexit-Tory Party and Trumpian-Republicans are staunchly anti-immigration, anti-regulation, anti-government and public services, obsessed with the (so called) free market and hell bent on the destruction of any policy not of their own making.
Additionally, both parties and their respective leaders will say and do anything to gain and remain in power. This means having the willingness and capacity to routinely lie – to claim black is white even when it’s obvious that’s not the case. One of most egregious examples of this (from amongst many) is the constant parroting of both leaders and parties that they are totally committed to acting in the interest of ‘working people’, of the ‘less fortunate’, or, in the case of Republicans, the ‘middle classes’ – by which they mean blue collar, working class citizens (except that for some reason nearly all right-leaning Americans seem to have a problem using the term ‘working class’ – perhaps because to do so illustrates that for many US citizens there’s no such thing as the American dream. If there were they wouldn’t still be stuck in the ‘working class’).
Take the example of the recent passing of tax cutting bills by both House and Senate Republicans. In tandem with Donald Trump’s oft repeated and blatant lie that what was being pursued would result in ‘massive’ tax cuts for the middle classes, Republican’s in the House and Senate fell over themselves to repeat this fiction. They continued the lie – as did Trump (but then we expect nothing more from the liar in chief) – even after the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the proposed legislation would result in people making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year paying a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would receive a $5.8 billion tax cut. Additionally, the cuts add at least a $1 trillion to the US deficit (so much for the famed resolve of Republican deficit hawks who are now shown to have as much backbone as a slug).
If the scale of this fiction leaves you wondering why Republican politicians would pursue such a blatantly unfair policy – which will further increase the already significant levels of income inequality in the US – you need know only one thing: this was a policy for Republican Party donors. As such it demonstrates the shocking scale and depth of the capture of the Grand Old Party (GOP) by ‘money’ and simultaneously exposes any claim that they represent working/middle class Americans as being as false as claiming the Earth is flat.
Another feature of the Trumpian-Republican tax cut initiative was US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s repeated claims that hundreds of Treasury officials were working on a report modelling the impact of the tax cuts that would show they would pay for themselves. In short, they’d be ‘revenue neutral’. Republican and Democrat politicians and political pundits and commentators waited patiently for Mnuchin’s report, only to discover as the tax cut bill wound a tortuous path through the Senate that not only did it not exist, but that Treasury insiders confirmed that as far as they knew no officials had been working on it!
And so we come to back to the lies, half-truths and plain nonsense that routinely spouts from members of the Brexit-Tory Party. Or, on this occasion the Brexit Secretary David Davis specifically. For it transpires that the sector by sector impact assessments of Brexit that Davis claimed had been produced are as fictitious as Mnuchin’s report on how the Republican tax cuts will pay for themselves. Why? Because no assessment can show anything other than the costs of Brexit will be significant and long lasting and will mostly fall on the working and middle class (as with Trump’s tax cuts).
Furthermore, Davis also told the Brexit Select Committee that no economic impact study had been undertaken before the cabinet decision to leave the customs union and no assessment had been made of the possible economic effect of a no-deal Brexit. This startling piece of information and what it tells the citizens of the UK about the degree of uselessness and ineptitude at the centre of the government’s approach to Brexit was further reinforced later in the day (Wednesday 6th December) when Chancellor Phillip Hammond revealed that the cabinet had not yet discussed what final Brexit outcome was being pursued, and that only “general discussions” had been held about the UK’s goals (subsequently denied by No 10, but then they would, wouldn’t they).
Clearly no member of the government has ever been a member of the Scouts or aware of the expression, ‘be prepared’. Indeed, when challenged by a member of the select committee that it was “quite extraordinary” no impact assessments had been made Davis replied that it was not, arguing that there were a “phenomenal number of variables” to take into account and therefore the complexity made any assessment pointless.
And so we come full circle to the Trumpian view of government and politics that we daily see undermining and destroying decades of democratic norms and values in the US – aided and abetted by a Republican Party who have redefined ‘willing to do anything to gain and remain in power’ as selling their soul and any moral and ethical values they still retain in exchange for a place in US political history that is darker and more despicable than any previous generation of US politicians could imagine. To this we can add the fact that hypocrisy has been turned into an art-form: Trumpian Republicans turn a blind eye – or routinely defend – presidential behaviour they would have impeached Obama for; while Brexit Tories call anyone who questions the ‘will of the people’ to leave the EU ‘treasonous’ even though they’ve spent 40 years endlessly attacking the ‘will of the people’ to join the EU expressed through the referendum of 1975.
Ultimately the Brexit-Tory Party and its shock-troops in the media are commited to one central aim: to hell with the damage that Brexit will visit on the UK. It’s worth it to create the ‘creative chaos’ necessary to launch the country into its version of the Trumpian nightmare unfolding across the Atlantic. The end game for Trump and his supporters is clearly a populist, authoritarian state. And a hard Brexit will take the UK in exactly the same direction – and not by accident but by design.