Adonis exit is recipe of Government’s own making


Adonis exit is recipe of Government’s own making

Lord Adonis’s barmy, prejudicial, illogical depiction of Brexit is partly a symptom of the Government’s own disjointed approach to Brexit, argues Bruce Newsome. 

Lord Adonis ends the year 2017 as the barmiest Brexit-basher yet, turning a resignation from a minor advisory role into a vehicle for a blatantly fictional, prejudicial, and illogical depiction of Brexit.

Worse, his depiction of Brexit has been reported seriously. Doesn’t anyone check the facts anymore? Barmy Brexit-bashing became normative in 2017 – common, fashionable, taken-for-granted – because the government is peddling a contradictory policy on Brexit. This contradictory policy feeds left-wing conspiracy theorists and repels Brexiteers: nobody is satisfied, everybody is confused, and the barmiest Brexit-basher receives respectful reporting.

Does Adonis have the ethos to be considered a reputable critic of Brexit? No. Adonis is a Labour peer, who accrued most of his political experience working for Tony Blair on education and transport. He was appointed chair of the National Infrastructure Commission by a Conservative government, where he focused on railways. His letter to the Prime Minister reviewed that role before stating that he was resigning over the European Union Withdrawal Bill. Huh? The technical term for this leap is “non sequitur” – his argument “doesn’t follow.”

Then Adonis switches to hyperbole: “Brexit is a populist and nationalist spasm worthy of Donald Trump.” That’s three prejudices in one sentence.

Populism” is a term that properly refers to an appeal to ordinary people. From academic obscurity, since 2016 it has been used as a prejudicial explanation for anything popular with which one disagrees. It’s an anti-democratic prejudice. Consistently, Adonis is an unelected peer, whose letter promises to vote against the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords, and never admits that Brexit was and is popular – instead, he blames a right-wing conspiracy, and wants a second referendum.

“Nationalism” has been another prejudicial explanation from the start. The technical term for this fallacy is “reductionism.” Brexiteers had many arguments in favour of Brexit – sovereignty, fiscal savings, social cohesion, border security, amongst other things; no representative Brexiteer ever said, so far as I am aware, that Britain should exit the EU because Britain is a better nation than any other. Yet a convenient way to avoid the worthy arguments in favour of Brexit is to reduce Brexiteers to nationalists. Reductionism is a fallacy – it’s not fair; it’s a failure to contest the other side’s arguments. Adonis’ reductionism should have been called out as such – but no reporter has yet pointed it out.

As for Adonis comparing Brexit with “Donald Trump” – the technical term for this fallacy is “false analogy.” Brexit is a policy, a process, an objective – Trump is a person. Adonis might have compared Brexit with a Trump policy, or a Brexiteer with Trump, but to compare Brexit with Trump is a false analogy. His letter does not explain what on earth he meant by throwing Trump into the sentence, except to throw red meat to those other reductionists who put populism, nationalism, Trump, and Brexit into the same bag in order to throw stones at one homogenous target of hate. It’s not logical, it’s not empirical, it’s just prejudicial.

Adonis has made false analogies before – he had previously compared the government’s consideration of a “hard Brexit” with appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s. Hmm?! Again, he provided no argument to justify why this was a true analogy – except to add “I’m a historian.” This amounts to claiming the ethos of a historian (i.e., “trust me, as a historian, I don’t need to justify my historical analogies”), but he doesn’t have any more ethos as a historian than as a foreign policy-maker.

Yet his prejudices keep coming. His letter went on to claim that the Prime Minister has been “allying with UKIP and the Tory hard right to wrench Britain out of the key economic and political institutions of modern Europe”. In reaction, the Liberal Democrat leader (Vince Cable) agreed that “the Conservative leadership has pandered to its right wing over the single market and customs union.”

What planet are they on? UKIP has nobody in the House of Commons or the Lords with whom Theresa May could ally, even if she wanted. Meanwhile, UKIP has made clear that May is not delivering the Brexit for which UKIP campaigned. In fact, UKIP’s policy is that May should resign to make way for someone who would deliver Brexit. Similarly, those on the self-admitted right-wing of the Conservative Party, such as John Redwood, also accuse May of favouring the Remainers more than the Brexiteers.

Moreover, Adonis is obviously wrong to accuse Theresa May of “wrench[ing] Britain out of the key economic and political institutions of modern Europe.” Her policy is to stay in the customs union, free trade area, all the current security institutions and arrangements, and (consequently) the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, as she made clear in her speech in Florence in September.

Adonis’ letter is so blatantly prejudicial and illogical that I am surprised by the deferential reporting that it has received over the weekend. Journalists are partly at fault for generally abandoning objectivity in favour of fashionable Brexit-bashing, but the government is most at fault for talking out of both sides of its face – a contradictory policy that repeatedly promises that “Brexit means Brexit” and that Britain will separate in March 2019, but contrives to separate as little as possible, and leaves everyone confused.

4.62 avg. rating (92% score) - 21 votes
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    Bruce Oliver Newsome
    Bruce Oliver Newsome, Ph.D. is a lecturer in International Relations as the University of California Berkeley
    • Hampsteadpinko

      Dear Bruce – why don’t you try to get your piece into mainstream media?

    • Tony in Southwark

      Adonis is a creation of the third rate academic establishment which exists on the fringes of the ‘policy advisory’ wonkworks whose sole career ambitions are in gaining non-elected non-responsible office as a political appointee. He succeeded with his elevation to the HoL and thence to a NGO ‘Commission’ where he also is a cheer leader for the ridiculous wasteful and unnecesary infrastructure project HS2 (actually also the result of an EU policy).

      Although I agree with BON’s analysis of Adonis’s letter, the penultimate paragraph of the piece is simply wrong – I have lost count with how often May and Hammond and not just Davis, Johnson and even the cited Redwood have said ‘Leaving EU means Leaving the Customs Union, Single Market and ECJ Jurisdiction’ and what is more M Barnier has said exactly the same thing. May said she wanted a ‘unique arrangement with the EU’ in her Florence speech.
      When there is talk of ‘Bespoke Agreement’ that too is what is meant by a simple Free Trade Agreement for the UK but without the entanglements of the alleged Four Freedoms as controlled through the CU-SM-ECJ .

      May has said ‘No Deal is Better than a Bad deal’ and if the EU won’t agree to the mutual FTA then they will not get any money from the UK at all, they can argue their case in the non-EU tribunals if they think they have one.

    • Debs

      The anti Brexit lot are having a collective break down. Its like trying to get them away from a cult. The EU cult .

    • Cato The Elder

      So, someone who came to prominence in the era of PFI contracts and splashing out taxpayers money “off balance sheet” to the benefit of architects, contractors and everyone else involved in PFI indulges in a hysterical and nonsensical rant, and flounces out.


      It seemed very similar to Heseltine’s choreographed walk – out over Westland Helicopters to me.

      • Tony in Southwark

        Yes – but without the political fall-out that Hezza intended and managed!

        • Tony in Southwark

          Westland – Strange how the world goes around – Heseltine wanted it to merge with the Italian Agusta. Thatcher wanted closer relations with Sikorsky, which Westland had long had a manufacturing alliance, improving on some of the models. Thatcher outmanouvred Heseltine and when he realised his Grande Project for aEuroCopter group was stymied, he walked out of the Cabinet.
          Sikorsky eventually acquired a major interest in Westlansd which was mainly owned by GKN group – now it is indeed part of the Italian Agusta group as ‘Leonardo!
          Yet GKN is now the main fabrication business for Boeing in the USA!

        • Cato The Elder

          Well, Tony, – Good Evening, btw, Westland happened in the mid eighties. I think it also accounted for Brittan, but fortunately, that ghastly self – seeking liar, Heseltine, had to stay on the back benches and bide his time a long while before feeling brave enough to try to unseat Thatcher, and even then, he didn’t end up in #10. The Lady was looking a little tired by then anyway, so it was only a matter of time.

          We had her for a good long time afterwards, despite his scheming.

          Don’t let’s kid oursel;ves, however. If Adonis could have brought down the Govt with his “principled” resignation about ….errr ………… Trump, UKIP Brexit,……………. the performance of the England cricket team, ……he would have done. But that would be beyond his wildest dreams.

          Judging by the few comments on here, the waters appeared to have covered his head without trace, and no one’s missing him.

          Doubtless, he’ll pick up a couple of lucrative consultancies etc………….. but caaaaaaaaants like him always do.

    • alecto

      Adonis (a misnomer if ever there was one) has proven there is a serious mental health issue with remoaners!

    • Tom W Huxley

      If the government was really seeking to “separate as little as possible” then we wouldn’t be leaving the single market, the customs union or the jurisdiction of the ECJ. We would be stuck paying increasing amounts – currently over £20bn a year – into the EU budget, permanently. Free movement of people would still be on the table (nobody realistically believes this to be possible).
      Adonis’ letter is barmy. But the idea we aren’t really leaving the EU is even barmier.
      Also UKIP (currently) has three peers in the House of Lords – all former Conservatives (not unlike their membership)

      • Mojo

        Only three out of 800!!!! Says it all doesn’t it. HoL is corrupt, old and past its best.

        This country has a Remain Prime Minister and a Remain heavy Cabinet, in a Remain heavy parliament supported by a Remain heavy but also unelected, HoL. The country did not vote Remain. There is something totally wrong with our political class when they are so out of step with those who elected them. It reminds me of the totally corrupt, unelected and out of step Brussels coterie.

        • Tom W Huxley

          She might have originally voted Remain but since running for leadership she’s become a lot more Brexit than even some of the Brexiteers.
          And yes, three out of 800… but it isn’t zero as this article claims.

    • thamesmud

      A bit of a wast of time trying to use logic against a demented loon like Adonis. Among these loons support for the EU is a religion supported by faith not logic.

    • Great Briton

      Lord Adonis, a Labour peer who nobody ever voted for, resigns from a Quango nobody ever wanted. He won’t be missed

    • SonofBoudica

      Adonis is simply unhinged. That the media has reported his confused, angry ramblings as news is indeed the most sinister aspect of this whole hysterical episode.

    • Andy

      The letter was a very poorly written ‘rant’. And actually when you examine it one has to wonder at Adonis’s state of mind. Perhaps he should be Sectioned for his own good and the safety of the Public.

      • springmellon

        He is suffering from what has come to be known as Brexit Derangement Syndrome. Others seriously afflicted by this syndrome include: Alistair Campbell, A.C. Grayling, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Michael Heselltine and Ken Clarke.

        Symptoms include a curious hysterical reaction that causes paranoid delusions and the loss of ability to rationally assess factual evidence. Sufferers find themselves so convinced of their delusions that they find themselves willing to lie, cheat,and subvert democratic principles in an attempt to end their suffering.

        These people are a danger to themselves and Britain and should be avoided at all costs.

        • Ordovici

          Yasmin Alibhai-Khan is the worst example and Alky Al Campbell pretty bad as well,.

    • here’s looking at you kid

      Adonis is just another useless idiot that our ruling incompetents seem to favour.
      17.4 million citizens know it.

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