Morning briefing: Fox timid on Trump tariffs - no left-wing Brexit - Lawson's hypocrisy
Brexiters think Donald Trump is our best buddy. He’s actually a bully.
The US president has slapped 25% tariffs on European steel and 10% on European aluminium. That’s a new fact for the post-Brexit world, unknowable at the time of the 2016 referendum vote. And it’s a particularly unwelcome fact for the 31,000 workers employed in the UK steel industry.
Trump is bringing the US to the brink of a trade war with its closest allies - Canada and Mexico will also be hit. The EU is already threatening retaliatory tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, bourbon whiskey and Levi jeans.
Emmanuel Macron has called Trump’s move an “illegal decision”. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, has promised “dollar for dollar” retaliation.
And the response from the UK? Liam Fox says limply that it would be “a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies”.
The trade secretary must be worried that the fantasy deal he promised to clinch with the US straight after Brexit will go up in smoke if he attacks Trump. But if these tariffs show anything it’s that, in any pact we get with America, we’ll be bullied.
Fox can afford his weak response because the EU is doing the muscle flexing for us. It’s much more effective at this because its market is bigger than America’s.
If we want to be a proud nation then the only way to deal with bullies is stand up to them. Self-imposed Brexit isolation will make that almost impossible.
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Tweet of the day
Wise words from MEP Guy Verhofstadt as the US President pulls up the drawbridge on his allies.
Son of Max Fac rears its head
David Davis has come up with another cockamamie wheeze to avoid border controls in Ireland, if the Sun is to be believed. The scheme involves Northern Ireland having “joint EU and UK status”, under which it would operate a “double hatted regime of European and British regulations”. There would also be a 10-mile buffer zone along the 310-mile border, which would share the same trade rules as south of the border.
The wheeze is said to be a “major revision” of the “Max Fac” solution to the Irish border that the Brexit secretary was previously pursuing. Davis abandoned that because the whizzo technology doesn’t work, according to the Sun.
If this was April 1 not June 1, Max Fac 2 would clearly be a joke. Among the many questions it raises are: Will there be frontier checks at the border between the buffer zone and the rest of Northern Ireland? And why on earth would either the EU or the DUP, which is propping up the Tory government, agree?
Nobody on this hilarious twitter conversation can make head or tail of it. Here’s one choice comment:
Barclays fears exposure to Brexit Britain
Barclays is tightening its lending criteria to the UK as its economy lags behind the rest of the world. The bank had to be “mindful of weaknesses in the economy” as Brexit uncertainty stunted economic growth, Barclays chief Jes Staley told the BBC.
A UK bank explicitly voicing concerns about its exposure to the UK economy is a new development. It comes hard on the heels of 50 of Europe’s largest companies telling the prime minister that her policy of dithering is stifling investment. It rams home how Brexit is a threat to our country’s prosperity.
Video of the day
For more detail on why keeping the Irish border open is a hugely complicated issue, read this on InFacts from Martin Donnelly - he used to be the top civil servant in Liam Fox's trade department.
Lawson to weather out Brexit in the French sun
At least Nigel Lawson won’t have to translate hypocrite into French. The one time chair of Vote Leave has just applied for a French residency card to make sure his rights are protected after Brexit. Surely the Tory grandee would rather move back to Blighty, to fully embrace the limitless opportunities and sunlit uplands of Brexit Britain?
Wealthy men like Lawson were never going to feel the pinch from Brexit. It’s ordinary Brits who will suffer, and who will now be denied the chance to easily live and work in countries like France thanks to the campaign Lawson helped lead.
Can Corbyn be convinced?
A grassroots group of Jeremy Corbyn supporters and trade unions has launched a UK-wide tour to put forward the left-wing case against Brexit. The Left Against Brexit tour will try to convince the Labour leadership that an anti-Brexit position isn’t just in line with their politics, but could give Labour a boost at the polls.
A hard Brexit would be bad for the working class and prevent Corbyn from implementing the reforms he wanted, even if he managed to get into Downing Street. With the majority of Labour voters understanding this, it’s time Corbyn reassessed his Brexit policy. Of course, if this group and other groups are serious about avoiding a hard and destructive Brexit, the only realistic position is to back a People’s Vote on the final deal.
Quote of the day
“The Brexit squeeze ain’t worth the juice””
Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the transport union TSSA, in a bid to convince Jeremy Corbyn that Brexit is bad for Labour.
More Brexit news…
Rebel MP’s legal threat to Brexiteers (Times £)
Pro-European Tory MP Antoinette Sandbach has responded to an email campaign by supporters of pro-Brexit group Leave Means Leave with a legal challenge. Any messages warning Sandbach to back Brexit have been greeted by the response: “Your email has been retained as Leave Means Leave have breached the GDPR, and I will be reporting them, together with your email, to the information commissioner. If you ever contact me again I will also report you for harassment.”
Top Brexit comment
Matt Kelly: Nobody was smart enough to understand Brexit (GQ)
Hanna Trollman: Here's how Brexit will affect each ingredient of the full English breakfast (Independent)
Today, Friday 1 June
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