Monday, 11 July 2016

"Embezzled Authority"

Today the Taipei Times translated an interview with Taiwan's WTO representative Yen Ching-chang about Brexit, and what, if any, lessons it may hold for Taiwan. In some of his answers Mr Yen comes across as condescendingly unprofessional. For instance, when the interviewer asks for his analysis of the referendum result, Mr Yen replies that the British public wanted to make their own decisions. He then explains...
"The direct result of the UK joining the EU is that when it is making new laws or amending old ones, Brussels — the headquarters of the EU — has a large say, and UK residents think that such a large influence directly affects their sovereignty. This kind of view is inherently specious; any nation joining any international organization would of course have to submit to the organization’s regulations. Such acceptance of course influences the nation’s sovereignty, but such effects are not solely restricted to the UK. All other EU members share the same restrictions. Rational thought would expose the basis of the “Leave” camp to be limited to the restoration of British autonomy, which would not stand to reason."
 (Emphases added).

His remark that British concerns about sovereignty were "inherently specious" overlooks a crucial point, which is that the British public were never consulted about joining the European Union. The 1975 referendum was about membership of the EEC, which was then a trading and customs union, not a political union. So although it is trivially true that a government joining an international organization should be expected to abide by the rules of that organization, there is a necessary presumption that they join with public support. Yet as I have said, no British government ever deigned to consult the public about a political union with Europe until last month.

And they got told to fuck off.

Mr Yen appears to further embezzle his authority on the subject by pointing out that the other European Union member nations share the same restrictions as the UK. If this is correctly translated, then he is essentially arguing by implication that because Britain is not the only country suffering from a lack of democratic control over the EU, it is therefore fine. This is a logical fallacy; it's like saying it's acceptable for the school bully to take one kid's money and push him around because the other kids suffer under him just the same.

It is pernicious nonsense.

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