Brexit Tories take another page from the Trumpian-Republican playbook

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.

Comments

  1. Soap Box -

    Ivan
    a nice bit of writing and I can sense the controlled fury. It really does scare me. As I’ve said before my father who was in Berlin in 1937-39 predicted that if conditions were right it could happen anywhere, but most likely in the US and England. A powerful country with a belief in its own exceptionalism. My American friends are as depressed as I am about the state of the world.

  2. Peter May -

    Powerfully frightening stuff. I thought David Davis had said there were 58 impact assessments for various sectors of the economy – or is it that these were produced only after the Article 50 decision to leave?
    So where are these? If he’s suddenly decided they don’t exist he must be guilty of misleading Parliament surely?
    The Tories are treating the country as their plaything without any regard for the best interests of the population. The country they claim to love seems to be used just to boost their own egos. And they are incompetent to boot. Cabinet meetings must be fun – they discuss eveything except what’s really important!
    If the government (I use the term lightly) falls we must think how Labour could get us out of the mess….

  3. Ian Stevenson -

    An honest media would soon expose the half truths and inconsistencies of these people. The reason they get away with their manipulation of the facts is that the media and tabloid press in particular employ emotional distractions .e.g.” Europe holding us
    to ransom” or ignore anything which doesn’t fit he agenda. I noted today the Mail and Express front pages ignoring the shambles of the Brussels talks.
    Eisenhower spoke of the military-industrial complex as the domestic danger of his time. In our time it is the financial-media complex such as the Sun-Fox News organisation.

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      Ian, when the full impact of Brexit is upon us – and it won’t be nice, as most of us recognise – it’s going to be interesting to see how the Brexit Press explain it all away. No doubt as you note by doing what Fox News does in the US and promote an entirely alternative news.
      Incidentally, I’ve updated the blog to add mention of the rank hypocrisy that’s also a central feature of both Trumpian Republicans and Brexit Tories.

  4. Geoff Plant -

    Thank Ivan, a very sobering article.

    This article by A C Grayling for Prospect magazine brings a little regarded angle to the Brexit debate. The Berxiteers on the right wing of the Tory party need to be stopped.
    I quote:-
    Parliament is the sovereign body in the United Kingdom. It is neither the government nor the electorate which has the final authority to decide what is to be done in matters of state, but parliament and parliament alone. This fact has, astonishingly, been disregarded in the most crucial way in relation to Brexit.

    For parliament has at no point voted on the proposition “that the UK should leave the European Union.” And that means that a decision that the UK should leave the EU has not been properly taken. Such a decision is required for the triggering of Article 50 to be valid under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty

    https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/mps-did-not-properly-approve-brexit-so-the-triggering-of-article-50-was-invalid

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      As a student of public adminstration I agree with Grayling, Geoff. But to zealots – whatever their stripe – democratic norms and past practice mean nothing – as the Americans are finding in spades with Trump and his acolytes. No matter what damage or misery is visit on others they can sleep soundly at night knowing they never compromised their warped beliefs.

  5. Tony_B -

    Why do people relate to ‘Trump’, because they recognise their own desires in him, if only subconsciously. He is the closest example of the pinnacle of success in achieving human desires. Bertrand Russell defined four desires driving human behaviour – acquisitiveness, rivalry, vanity, and love of power. Trump’s life has been about publically exposing his achievements in these four. As such this is the end of the line in this game, who can top Trump?

    PS Powerful arguments. What’s needed Ivan is conveying your, and others, prose in ‘red top’ language, and developing a powerful peoples media. The Canary is not doing bad in that?

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      Clearly some people relate to Trump on that level, Tony_B, eve if subconciously as you say. Personally, I find the man repulsive on so many levels that I cannot think of another politician (which he isn’t) in my lifetime that I’ve detested so much – and that really is saying something. People in the UK only get to hear a small selection of the dire things he and his administration are doing not things like the selling off of national monuments (the US equivalent of our national parks) – announced by him at a rally on Monday – or appointing people to top government posts (e.g. his son Eric’s wife’s brother) who have absolutely no qualifications for the job. The list goes on and on. Whatever my fellow liberals might say to get themselves to sleep at night, undoing the damage being done to the US by Trump will take decades – and he’s only been in office coming up a year!!!

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