Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Tim Farron versus Nigel Farage

• Ukip's Nigel Farage, and LibDem leader, Tim Farron, trading blows about the EU

Former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, and Lib-Dem leader, Tim Farron, practically took over BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday when they traded blows about the EU.

Mr Farron, sitting on the famous Marr settee with Mr Farage, almost in knee-to-knee combat, started the dialogue by saying that in the recent EU Referendum people had voted, “for a blank sheet of paper” regarding Brexit.

“I don’t think the Conservative government had any plan at all to deal with what would happen post a ‘Leave’ vote,” said Mr Farron. 

“And still three months on post the Referendum, it appears that Theresa May has no plan, and she’s not sharing it with us. 

"The difference to jobs in the United Kingdom and prices on our shelves, of us being in the Single Market or not in the Single Market, that issue alone is of vast significance.”

Responded Mr Farage, “Oh I agree, yes. Things will get much cheaper! We can buy cheaper food! Don’t you remember years ago cheap butter and lamb from New Zealand? There were lots of opportunities.”

• New Zealand lamb on sale in Tesco, despite Mr Farage's claim
Countered Mr Farron, “So the biggest market on the planet, on our doorstep, is something we can turn our back on?”

Riposted Mr Farage, “Let’s be absolutely clear about this blank sheet of paper, I do agree with you, that there was no plan B. The government did not prepare anything, Whitehall did not prepare anything, pretty irresponsible, so it’s a good job that Cameron and Osborne have gone. 

“But the idea that people who voted for Brexit voted for a blank sheet of paper is nonsense. They voted for us to take back control of our lives, they voted for us to come out of the Single Market, they voted for us to make our own laws and control our own borders.”

Replied Mr Farron, “You’re assuming you know!”

Said Mr Farage, “Here’s the nonsense, so many on the pro EU side portray themselves as being internationalist. 

“Actually, the European Union is effectively a protectionist club that has shut itself off from many of the emerging parts of the world and I want Britain to be engaged on a global basis, that’s real internationalism.”

Farron’s turn to respond, “It’s absolute nonsense because, for example, Commonwealth heads of government… are absolutely horrified at what the United Kingdom government is doing…”

Responded Farage, “They’re queuing up to sign trade deals. Get with it, come on. We’ve moved on Tim. They’re queuing up, Australia, Canada..”

Farron’s riposte: “Australia, let’s settle on that. A market of 20 million people, literally on the other side of the planet in case you haven’t worked that out, and a market literally 20 miles away across the Channel with 500 million people. Who would you do a deal with, Nigel?”

Countered Farage, “What’s so interesting, is the way you disparage them as being on the other side of the world. We’re leaving the European Union, we’re going global, it’s an exciting new future!”

Last word to Farron, “I don’t think it is. I think the problem is that what Nigel stands for is that populist, nationalist sentiment.”

At which point Andrew Marr stood up to leave the studio. The show was over. Or rather, his show had been taken over…

However, in my view, no one won the argument, because the main crux of the argument was lost. 

The point is that we don’t have to leave the European Union to successfully and prosperously trade with the rest of the world. We can have the best of both worlds: free trade with our most important trading partners, our neighbours in the EU, and bountiful trade with the rest of the world.

Furthermore, we don’t have to do new trade agreements with Canada and Australia, or any other countries, taking many, many years. The EU will do that for us, much quicker than us, and with agreements that will almost certainly be on much better terms than any agreements we might achieve on our own. 

Now, why wasn’t any of that brought up during the settee exchange?

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