It's unfair to ask if John Redwood is stupid or a liar. John Major never did.

As the member for Wokingham continues to agitate for the hardest Brexit imaginable, people are asking a question that is altogether unfair

Tom Peck
Monday 23 October 2017 18:44
John Redwood wants you to crash out on WTO terms
John Redwood wants you to crash out on WTO terms

A word on John Redwood. Is he stupid or is he a liar?

That particular Morton’s Fork is being raised against the member for Wokingham with ever increasing regularity these days, now he’s moved on from the gateway drug of mere Brexit. It is only coincidence that he happens to wears the wizened look of the addict that these days, right after he’s started injecting freebase Brexit in its purest form. Which is to say no-deal Brexit, crash out on WTO terms Brexit, just hook it to my veins Brexit.

It is a pity, when neither accusation can be demonstrably proved true, and a far more accurate term has been on the record for 24 years. John Redwood is neither stupid nor a liar. John Major preferred the term “bastard”, and at the end of the Prime Minister’s latest non-statement on Brexit progress, as John Redwood rose again to tell the house how it should trash the nation’s economy in order to give John Redwood a tiny bit more power, it is hard to avoid the sensation John Major had it right.

David Davis has already admitted that the no-deal option exists only “for negotiating reasons”. Amber Rudd has said it would be unthinkable. The Government has commissioned expensive impact assessments into the consequences of a no-deal Brexit and is now keeping them secret, which we might be permitted to assume is because they may not be entirely positive.

People maintain John Redwood must be a liar is because, in the face of all this clear evidence, he keeps popping up in parliament, and on the TV and in newspapers to say “no deal” would be absolutely “fine”. He can’t possibly mean it. It must just be a tactic.

But hang on. What if he does? “Does the Prime Minister agree that the best course for a business that trades with Europe would be to prepare for a smooth transition to World Trade Organisation terms, which the Government can and will guarantee unilaterally?” he asked the Prime Minister,

He means it, doesn’t he. He really means it. One man’s cliff edge is another man’s ‘smooth transition.’ A smooth transition over the cliff edge.

Last week, he wrote in The Sun how he had spent the summer avoiding buying EU food in the supermarket to see how he would get on. “New Zealand and Australian wines are fine” he said, so “no need to buy French or Italian.”

John Redwood’s issue with the EU is well known, and has been set out in public over decades. His preferred shtick is that when power comes back from Brussels – against the personal wishes of the vast majority of MPs – Parliament can, he likes to say, have “greatness thrust upon it”. (Unfortunately John Redwood, in this analogy, is the thruster. We are all the reluctant beneficiaries.)

It will also mean, after more than two decades on the back benches, a tiny, teeny bit more power for John Redwood. A politician that’s happy to tell a country what it should have to eat or drink because there’s a bit more power in it for him? That’s not a man who’s evil or stupid. Listen to John Major.

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