The masters of whataboutery
We pointed out earlier that the main takeaway from the Scottish Government’s Brexit impact assessment was as follows.
Leaving the EU is a very bad idea for the Scottish economy. However, if we are going to do so, then maintaining Single Market access is the least damaging option. This least damaging option looks hard to achieve due to the UK government’s own Brexit red lines and the lack of leadership shown by Jeremy Corbyn on this issue.
The Scottish Government paper was a detailed warning as to the dangers of Brexit. Not only that but it also highlights how the actions of Labour and the Tories are pushing the UK towards the most damaging Brexit scenarios.
Given that, how did the SNP’s main rivals respond to the paper? The answer is they responded by indulging in cheap political point scoring and whataboutery.
This is what Labour Brexit spokesperson, Neil Findlay had to say:
The SNP paper clearly argues for the UK as a whole getting the best possible deal, which is to keep Single Market access.
The SNP, along with the other progressive parties in the UK, have invited Labour to join them in order to form a House of Common’s majority in favour of getting the best Brexit deal. Labour has refused to join such a coalition, despite their membership being in favour of Single Market access and despite Single Market access being their stated goal.
Without working with the likes of the Lib Dems and the SNP, how is Labour going to negotiate Single Market access when they are not in government? That is what we need to know from them if their Brexit stance is to be taken seriously.
The stuff about jobs and Carillion is just plain obfuscation. Especially as Labour has probably done more than any other party to create the type of economy that has bred companies like Carillion that leech from the public purse.
That aside, it would just be a bit strange if the First Minister mentioned Carillion in a speech about Brexit that has been planned months in advance. The truth is Labour is not in a position of power so can do little about securing jobs at Carillion or anywhere else at the moment. What they can do is work with the likes of the SNP to form a powerful coalition that could secure a Brexit that will save hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK.
The Tory response is predictably even worse.
Here is Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, quoted by ITV journalist Peter MacMahon.
This is whataboutery of the highest order because at no point did the First Minister mention independence today.
If we have a second independence referendum, that would be a perfect time to have economic arguments about the merits of independence but today we should be discussing the damaging Brexit detailed in the report.
As mentioned in the SNP report, and as confirmed about a million times by EU officials, you can’t get a deep special economic partnership that is better than current arrangements.
As today’s report points out, the best you can hope for is a Soft-Brexit, which would still be worse than being in the EU. However, we can’t get a soft-Brexit as the Tories are committed to ending free movement.
Even if this claim were true, the argument is still complete whataboutery.
It does nothing to counter the fact that there was a report published today that shows that Brexit is going to be a complete disaster. There have been dozens of similar reports published by various respected organisations.
What we want to see from the Conservatives is some sort of evidence that shows that their Brexit plan is tangible and that it is likely to make the UK better off. We know the UK Government has carried out impact assessments but for some reason, they are not as willing to publish them as the Scottish Government is.
Instead of directly addressing a well researched Scottish Government paper that argues that Brexit is completely bonkers, we just get obfuscation and political point scoring from Labour and the Tories.
If they are to be taken seriously, the Tories need to show us evidence that their Brexit path will make us better off and Labour needs to detail how they intend to secure a softer Brexit. The fact that they wriggle around these issues makes me fear that we have no hope of avoiding the worst case scenarios.
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