When Labour’s shadow business secretary Angela Eagle described Michael Gove’s recent remarks on the post-Brexit prospects for UK trade as ‘utopian rubbish’, she probably though that the most important concept within that formulation was ‘rubbish’.
Gove was speaking ‘rubbish’, of course. He sought to turn the UK’s crippling trade deficit – the thing that demonstrates how vulnerable our economy is – into a negotiating strength. I refuse to even contemplate the possibility that Gove actually believes his own argument; he just found a clever way to spin a weakness into a positive, given the obvious unpalatability of the real reason he supports Brexit (proven by the fact that he won’t tell us what it is).
And it is of course no surprise that Eagle believes that describing this argument as rubbish is a good idea – it is what you do when your political opponent is talking, well, rubbish. The thing that elevated Eagle’s response above the mundane was the prefix ‘utopian’, because the addition of this word gave the media the opportunity to tell the story of the Brexit debate in the way it clearly wants to tell the story.
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Image: Policy Exchange