Tony Abbott mocks ‘neurotic anxiety’ of Brexit opponents
The authoritarian element in British politics is very strong -- only marginally less so among the Conservatives -- so the popular wish for Britain to cast off the shackles of Europe has been heavily resisted by the political class. The result has been no agreement about how to move forward with Brexit -- Britain's exit from the EU. In the circumstances, I have mostly left their interminable debates about it without comment. I totally agree with Tony Abbott's comments about it however. Some excerpts below.
Because Abbott is still influential in conservative circles, there have been a couple of rejoinders to his remarks. I have not reproduced those rejoinders because it seems to me that they prove Abbott's point. They are just ‘neurotic anxiety’, as Abbott calls them. The link below does lead to them if you want to evaluate them yourself.
Britain in fact has nothing to fear from the EU. Britain buys a lot more from Europe than vice versa so a trade war would rapidly lead to EU capitulation. Mrs May hasn't got the stones to do it but Britain would just have to put a complete embargo on the importation into Britain of French and German motor vehicles for the EU to come begging, with M. Macron in the lead and Mrs Merkel not far behind.
Mr Trump is unhappy with the European motor vehicle manufacturers at the moment so a combined Anglo American embargo on them would not take much organizing. It would be quite hilarious and devastating in its effects and would show France and Germany up as the petulant children that they currently are
Tony Abbott has waded into the contentious debate about Britain’s looming exit from the European Union.
The former prime minister of Australia wrote a piece for The Spectator, titled No deal? No problem, in which he mocked the “neurotic anxiety” of politicians worried about the possibility of implementing Brexit without an official deal with the EU.
“Britain, we’re led to believe, is heading for the worst catastrophe in its history,” Mr Abbott said.
“Apparently the country that saw off Hitler, the Kaiser, Napoleon and the Spanish Armada is now paralysed with fear at the very thought of leaving the EU.”
Britain is due to exit the EU in less than a month, on March 29.
Prime Minister Theresa May has spent the last two years trying to negotiate an agreement both sides can support, but when her proposed deal was put to the UK parliament in January, it was rejected by a huge margin.
She has promised MPs another vote on March 12. If they shoot down her deal again, she will call votes to determine whether they support a no deal Brexit, or whether they want to extend the deadline past March 29.
Mr Abbott believes Britain would be better off crashing out of the EU with no deal than procrastinating or agreeing to a “bad deal”.
He argued a disorderly Brexit would mean “at most a few months of inconvenience”.
“Perhaps some moderate transition costs. But these difficulties would quickly pass,” Mr Abbott wrote.
“By far the more serious threat comes from Britain caving in and agreeing to a bad deal that imposes most of the burdens of EU membership but with few of the benefits. Or, almost as bad, a Brexit delay that would keep the UK as a tethered goat — while the EU shows how it will humiliate any country with the temerity to leave.
“For Britain to lose its nerve now would represent failure on an epic scale.”
Mr Abbott said the EU, not Britain, would “clearly be the loser” in any sort of spiteful no deal scenario.
“As a former prime minister of a country that has a perfectly satisfactory ‘no deal’ relationship with the EU, let me assure you: no deal would be no problem. Or at least no problem that Britain couldn’t quickly take in its stride,” he said.
“A no deal relationship with the EU has not stopped Australia doing about $US70 billion worth of trade with the EU in goods and services.
“It must baffle pundits, but Australia trades with the EU (and with Britain) without being part of any customs union.
“Theresa May was quite correct two years ago when she said that no deal was better than a bad deal. What she should have known even then was that a bad deal was all that Britain was ever going to get from an EU with a vested interest in ensuring that no country ever leaves.”
He said the real difficulty with Brexit all along had not been negotiating an agreement, but dealing with “the neurotic anxiety of the official political class”, which he said sees the EU as a “civilising force”.
This is of course a highly charged debate — Britain has spent years arguing about practically nothing else