Farage and Jenkyns Fail to Answer Simple Questions on WTO Rules

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Many pro-Brexit supporters are currently arguing the case that a no deal WTO rules exit would be great for Britain, as we boldly set out our new trade deals and made our own rules. However it is becoming increasingly apparent that none of the main supporters of WTO rules Brexit have even the faintest idea how the WTO works or what the WTO Rules are.

It was a shame to see Farage being attacked with the milkshake for several reasons – for one, just because you don’t agree with someone on many or all of their views, doesn’t mean you can attack them in the street, politicans or no. Furthermore, if you want to see Nigel Farage embarrassed you only need to watch this week’s episode of Question Time when he was ruthlessly shut down by an audience member who pressed him to name one WTO member who has no trade deals at all, like UK would be upon exiting the EU.

After some stammering and deflections the audience member urged him to answer the question put before him. Farage attempted to distract from the issue again before presenter Fiona Bruce asked do you know the answer? At this point Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party conceded he did not, saying, “I don’t know the answer because there isn’t one!”

More recently Conservative MP and Brexit supporting member of Leave Means Leave group Andrea Jenkyns failed similarly to answer the question on Daily Politics as Jo Coburn asked if she knew which countries traded with the EU on purely WTO rules. She did not know the answer saying, “obviously I will have to look further into that.”

The only thing that is obvious is that none of the main proponents of WTO rules understand how they work or who uses them.

The answer was that the only countries who trade solely on WTO terms with the EU are North Korea, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Russia and Venezuela. We could be like them!

What actually are WTO rules? Quickly please as I feel my will to live gently ebbing away

There are 164 members of the World Trade Organisation and they all have their own WTO schedules saying what tariffs they have, these are taxes charged on goods being imported into the country.

When we leave the EU we will have these tariffs imposed on us as we fall back on WTO rules. So for example car prices will increase by 10% and car parts will also have the 10% extra tariff put on, which understandably is worrying the car industry in the UK.

The EU have their own set of tariffs for countries outside of the EU, we would become one those countries as we leave of course, so any goods being exported to the EU would be traded under their WTO tariffs.

There’s no escaping these tariffs as we have no control over them so any business exporting goods could suffer as a result. Dairy farmers in particular would see the cost of their goods increase by 35% which could mean they are priced out of the market.

Does leaving on WTO Terms mean we can make our own rules and charge what tariffs we want?

Unfortunately no, far from being free from the chains of EU control and able to make our own rules, we would now be under WTO rules, which are made up by not 28 countries but 164, including Russia, China and the US.

Another of the WTO Rules is the Most Favoured Nation Policy or MFN which means that if you set a low tariff for one country on a particular product, you have to offer the same deal for all other 164 countries in the WTO, unless you set up a free trade deal which typically takes about seven years.

More recently, the World Trade Organisation has started to govern countries’ internal policies as well, in an effort to remove barriers to trade there are rules of origin, import licensing , valuation, agreements on shipment inspection and other such areas that are governed by the WTO Rules.

Do any countries trade on WTO rules alone?

No, the answer Nigel Farage was looking for was that no other countries trade solely on WTO rules without any trade agreements in place.

There was some suggestion that Mauritania would be a country with no other trade deals in place other than WTO terms but Mauritania has now joined the Economic Community of West African States and has preferential deals with 20 other WTO members.

This means that the UK would be joining an exclusive club of one as the only country in the world relying on WTO terms without any existing trade deals. Of course the sensible thing would be to have these lined up before leaving the EU but nobody ever accused the government or Brexit supporting parties of being too sensible.

This sounds like a nightmare so what are the alternatives?

The option is now clear – hold a second referendum and put the choice to the people , let them decide rather than have all these false narratives imposed on them.

Theresa May recently said in response to the massive win for Liberal Democrats in the local elections, “this is a signal from the British Public that they want Labour and Conservatives to get on with delivering Brexit.”

Liberal Democrats would argue that is perhaps not the case and voting Lib Dems in the EU elections would again signal to the government that the people want to revoke article 50, remain in the EU and stop this mess from happening.

However it is not our place to suggest or impose our will or theories of what the public think on certain issues. There’s one clear way to find out what the people think and that is to ask them, and do not be afraid to do so.

How can I help?

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If you would like to join the fight against this Brexit mess and a wide range of other problems we are facing then you can join Liberal Democrats by signing up on our membership page to become a member and also eligible for candidacy in elections if you so wish.

If you would like to see the full exchange between the member of public and Farage failing to answer the question on Question Time you can see the video here

The interview with Andrea Jenkyns MP where she did not know which countries trade on WTO rules with the EU can be seen here

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