Brexit And Trade: An Interviewer’s Guide To Exposing Nonsense

Trade Explained:

Journalists conducting interviews on the trade side of Brexit face a huge challenge. The field is packed with confident but utterly clueless chancers who prey on the technical nature of the subject to spout nonsense laden with enough impressive sounding terminology to appear credible.

The interviewer rarely feels confident enough with trade policy’s intricacies to really challenge the verbal onslaught they’re experiencing and thus inadvertently add credibility to what is objectively nonsense. Inspired by a twitter exchange, I wanted to create an evolving guide to help.

For example:


“In a No-Deal, Article XXIV of the WTO would allow us to ‘freeze tariffs’ with the EU and keep things the way they are for two to ten years.”

Suggested follow ups:

  • “Invoking Article XXIV requires the EU’s consent, which it has explicitly ruled out. Are they lying or bluffing?”
  • “Are you aware elimination of tariffs under Article XXIV would actually raise the paperwork requirements on British exporters beyond even just trading on WTO terms alone?”
  • “What would eliminating tariffs via Article XXIV instead of a transition period do for UK services firms?”

Recommended reading for all, but especially BBC, journalists.