Tweet Checking: Calling Out Brexiter Logic, History and Economics (and Dan Hannan)

5.Rania Khalek

Khalek in my experience has a history of tweeting an article with an inflammatory comment before moving onto the next tweet, while the article linked tells a different story.

The minister in question, Sigmar Gabriel, is not so much concerned with general opposition to Israel as an event related in the article itself: some 2,500 demonstrators marched through Berlin's Neukölln district burning “flags with the Star of David”, supposedly in “protest against the United States' decision last Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.”

Here is the full section from the article dealing with Gabriel’s comments:

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Bild that despite understandable criticism of the US decision, "there is no right and also no justification to burn Israeli flags, incite hatred against Jews or question the right of Israel to exist."

Whoever does such things, Gabriel said, "is not just opposing Israel but also the constitutional order of Germany."

Now, who do you think Khalek has more contempt for: her critics or her followers? It also doesn’t help that Khalek herself is employing an accusation of ‘virtue signalling’ more in line with the Alt-Right when she wonders about “German guilt”.

4. James WindsorC:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp\IMG_0828.jpg

 Rather than dealing with the obvious multitudes of the World Wars, let’s take a look at the Napoleonic Wars: does James Windsor really think Britain fought Napoleon as a favour to Continental Europeans — “too much bloody foreign aid these days!” — or does it have more to do with Britain protecting its imperial interests on the Continent and in the North Sea? This goes without mentioning Napoleon’s Continental System, which amounted to an economic blockade of Britain and its colonies.

As to Britain “liberating” Europe singlehandedly, you would have to ignore the contribution of all its various allies at different points: the Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Portuguese Empire, the Dutch Republic, various Italian states, various German states, and Hungary, as well as arguably the Ottomans and the Persians. Yes these allegiances shifted about a lot over a two decade period, but the Seventh (and final) Coalition which removed Napoleon from power (for the second time) in 1815 consisted of an alliance of the UK and fifteen other sovereign states (including the French Kingdom).

The position of Britain as ‘liberator’ is also in question, given that the Napoleonic project which so enraged (and scared) the British establishment of the time involved the dismantling of not only the cruel Ancien Regime, but also the quasi-medieval Holy Roman Empire (remember that the constituent Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was in personal union with Britain at the time), leaving in its place a system of modernised German states with liberal constitutions, free from serfdom and feudal landlordism. As Napoleon himself asked his brother Jerome: “What people will wish to return to the arbitrary rule of Prussia once it has tasted the benefits of a wise and liberal administration?”

I have never understood this Brexiter attitude to European history: Britain has nothing to do with Europe at all, and yet Britain is always at the forefront of its history.

3."Curse"

Now, and this is just a theory, maybe it just might, if you stretch your suspension of disbelief just a little bit, conceivably perhaps possibly perchance have something to do with Rosenberg being a senior writer at one of the most widely-read Jewish interest magazines in the world, as well as being a Harvard graduate in Jewish studies (and a self-described “enthusiast”)? Jews (and gentiles such as your humble columnist) interested in Jews tend to hang with other Jews…

What confuses me is this “95%” figure? Did this guy literally go through the entire list of Rosenberg’s follows, confirm their Jewishness and calculate it?

 2. Open Britain

In this case, I must appeal to a higher power…that is, Ian Dunt and his book Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now? Dunt explains that if Brexiteers pursued their policy of attempting to create a tariff-free situation through the WTO, it would be illegal due to their policy of ‘most favoured nation’: “It means you cannot discriminate in your tariffs. If, say, you want to drop your tariffs on beef to zero with the EU, you must drop them to zero with everyone.” [p89] This overwhelming Brexiteer desire to drop tariffs at any cost—even at the price of a “No Deal” Brexit—would not end well in reality: “Britain could indeed unilaterally drop its EU tariffs, but then it would become a completely tariff-free country. Cheap foreign goods would flood the market. Hundreds of thousands of people would lose their jobs. It would make the UK a less attractive country for trade deals, because its tariffs would already be at zero. It would be like haggling with someone who already wants to give you their product for free.” [p90]

Yes, of course, the EU does have external tariffs, but those are negotiated with twenty-seven member states at the table for the best available deal.

Power in numbers, and trade-offs, seem to be phrases alien to the Brexit-minded.

1. Daniel HannanC:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp\IMG_0831.jpg

Oh Mr Hannan, will you ever learn?

It wasn’t merely that Davis went on Andrew Marr and said that what had been agreed with EU officials was a “gentleman’s agreement”. It’s that he went on Marr’s show and said that payment of Britain’s bill was “conditional on an outcome”, and that the agreement was “much more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing.” Even though Davis went on to say “the odds, as it were, against a WTO or no deal outcome have dropped dramatically”, it was obvious that he was showboating for the Brexiter crowd by belittling an historic compromise, as though EU leaders wouldn’t notice.

As Stephen Bush framed the problem: “The British government…and the pro-Brexit press have forgotten that although few people in Westminster can speak another European language, almost every politician in every major European capital can speak, or at least read, English.”

To go on about it as a “gentleman’s agreement” ignores the fact that the deal was the only way to break an otherwise crippling impasse, and as Michel Barnier pointed out: “[the deal] cannot be anything else. In technical, legal terms it simply is not possible to do anything else. And David Davis knows that full well.”

If you keep talking about something not being legally binding, then people are going to start thinking you’re not going bind yourself to it at all. You don’t need a doctorate in international political economy to know that, you usually just need to have taken a standard course called ‘Living 101’.

More about the author

About the author

Harris Coverley writes the Tweet Checking column for Disclaimer and is constantly looking for readers to help him correct the worst of internet. No stupidity or falsehood is too great a challenge.

He lives in Manchester and holds an MA in Intellectual History from UCL. He also writes short fiction and poetry, the former of which only Disclaimer has had the good sense to publish.

Follow Harris on Twitter.

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