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Analysis

Hello Brexiters, welcome to big boys’ game

by Hugo Dixon | 28.09.2017

The punitive tariffs America plans to impose on Bombardier show the folly of sucking up to Donald Trump. If we quit the EU, he’ll just bully us like he’s bullying Canada.

Brexiters are betting the farm on clinching a trade deal with the US to replace lost business when we pull out of the EU’s single market. That’s why Theresa May held hands with Trump in the White House. That’s why she offered him a state visit.

Fat lot of good that has done us. The US is planning to impose 219% tariffs on Bombardier’s C-series aircraft. The Canadian company supports over 14,000 jobs in the UK via its factory in Northern Ireland and suppliers.

Our hapless prime minister pleaded in vain with Trump not to do this. Now her government is threatening retaliatory action against America’s Boeing, which complained that Canada and the UK were unfairly subsidising Bombardier’s planes.

But why would Trump budge? The US economy is much bigger than ours and he knows we are desperate to do a trade deal with him after Brexit.

This sort of bullying is just the foretaste of what we can expect. If we actually reach such an agreement, Trump will try to force chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef down our throats. He’ll also pressurise the NHS to pay more for US-made drugs. He won’t want rules that stop him keeping British exports out of his market if he thinks we’re subsidising them.

We are now one of the EU’s big boys. And the EU is one of the world’s big boys. Its economy is larger than America’s. So Trump can’t bully the EU or us. If America does a trade deal with the EU, it will be on equal terms. The EU won’t be begging.

But on our own, we are vulnerable – and not just to Trump. China will push us around too. So will the EU, as we’re already finding in the Brexit negotiations. They are all much bigger and, in the cutthroat world of global trade, might is right.

Of course, we will be able to plead to the World Trade Organisation for fair treatment. But the WTO’s rules are weak, it takes ages to resolve disputes and it is not good at bringing miscreants to heel. It’s an economic version of the United Nations.

The Bombardier saga is a cautionary tale for Brexiters who want to break free of the EU’s rule-based system and put us at the mercy of the bullies.

Welcome to the big boys’ game.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “Hello Brexiters, welcome to big boys’ game”

  • That’s very similar to what Simon Tilford was writing in The Guardians
    If I were mischievous, I’d say it’s too much copy and paste similar too …

    • Well, maybe it just raises the same set of points because they’re just so obvious that anyone, except maybe Boris Johnson, could spot them.

      • In that case, this text could have been preambuled by “in an article by Simon Tilford in The Guardian [insert link] …” and copy/pasted the same points

        instead it looks like low output plagiarism