Tag Archives: export

Brexit has brought no benefits AT ALL to the UK, say industry leaders


People like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, who demanded Brexit with promises of “sunlit uplands” and prosperity afterwards, were speaking “on a wing and a prayer”, according to industrialists.

They said the UK has enjoyed no benefits – at all – as a result of leaving the European Union.

Manufacturers’ representative organisation Make UK said 17 per cent of UK exporters are no longer trading as exporters due to Brexit and that there has been a 50 per cent fall in food and drink exports.

The fall in exports to the EU could become structural – and permanent, it said.

And it warned that, with major changes coming, especially the imposition of import controls, it is vital that government works with business and the EU to smooth out critical issues such as customs procedures.

But this seems unlikely, considering the monumental failures by Boris Johnson’s lackadaisical and haphazard Tory government so far: only last week we learned that UK manufacturing including cars and fridges could face severely disrupted supply chains because the government failed to replace the EU’s safety standards system post-Brexit.

This is elementary stuff – and Johnson’s amateur politicians missed it.

The government itself has admitted that the chaos it caused by its own deliberate actions (or lack of them) was “not the desired outcome”. What did Johnson and his dimwitted cronies expect?

Actually, it seems that the claim at the top of this piece isn’t entirely true. One person benefited hugely from Brexit…

As for the rest of us… well, we get to express our own opinions in our own ways…

… and the international media community is having its own fun at our expense:

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Gove rebuked for fiddling the figures on post-Brexit trade

The UK Statistics Authority has delivered an official reprimand to Michael Gove and his Cabinet Office for faking the figures on post-Brexit trade.

The Road Haulage Association published the results of a survey in February, showing that the volume of exports to the EU fell by more than two-thirds (68 per cent) in January, immediately after the UK finally severed its membership of the European Union.

Gove’s Cabinet Office then pretended that the RHA was wrong, stating that “inbound and outbound flows (across all UK ports) were close to normal, at 95% outbound and 96% inbound, in spite of the impact of Covid lockdowns on trade.”

The UKSA’s reprimand pointed out that the Cabinet Office’s response contained “claims based on unpublished data, and as such these figures cannot be verified”.

Worse still, it referred only to “flows” of lorries, and not to the amount of freight they were carrying.

It is entirely possible that the number of lorries going out to the EU was almost as high from January 1 onwards as they had been before.

But the claim that exports had dropped by two-thirds is also likely to be true if most of those lorries were empty – and they were.

Gove has been caught trying to mislead the public over this important issue. By rights he should resign. But does anybody think he will?

Source: UK Statistics Authority rebukes Gove over Brexit figures | Brexit | The Guardian

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If half our exporters are in danger due to Brexit, should we ignore them in favour of the other half?

Imagine this container ship half-empty and you’ll have an idea of the effect that Brexit is having on UK exports.

That was the rationale behind the support for the EU referendum decision, if I recall correctly: that the 48 per cent who were disadvantaged by it should accept that the 52 per cent had won.

Now we see 49 per cent of UK exporters are facing difficulties that are disrupting their business as they struggle to cope with Brexit-related bureaucracy and border checks that the Tory government spent years promising would not be imposed.

People are making the obvious comparison, and This Writer thinks it is reasonable to do so.

All right – the EU referendum vote was democracy in action and it was won by those who wanted to quit the European Union.

That decision has consequences, and we are seeing those consequences in action now.

In January, the UK lost 68 per cent of its export trade to the EU. Now we see that 49 per cent of exporting companies are experiencing difficulties with the new system. If the situation continues, they may close. Already fishery firms are closing.

If firms go out of business, people will lose their jobs and the economy will spiral into a recession so deep that 2008 will seem like a picnic in comparison.

I wonder if Brexiteers who work for affected firms will still be telling Remainers, “You lost – get over it!” from the food bank queues.

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Since Brexit the UK has lost 68% of exports to its biggest market – because Gove ignored the experts

Michael Gove says the UK has had enough of experts: it seems his Chelsea scarf has cut off the supply of blood to his brain.

Now we know why senior Tories have been quietly telling us we’ll have to wait a number of years before seeing the benefit (ha ha) of Brexit.

I notice that the number of years mentioned seems to vary between five and 50. That also tells us much.

But it is our memories that we should be consulting. We were told that Brexit would take us out of the shadow of the EU and into the “sunlit uplands” of independence (even though we were never dependent on the European Union, when the UK was a member).

That was the happy fantasy; this is the bitter fact:

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit.

It’s a drop of two-thirds – a disastrous amount for any country. For the fifth-richest in the world, it signals a precipitous fall to a place much lower in the international wealth rankings.

And there must be no passing of blame. Responsibility lies firmly with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, it seems – who ignored repeated warnings from the Road Haulage Association.

In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.

In addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty because there were no goods for them to return with, due to hold-ups on the UK side, and because some UK companies had either temporarily or permanently halted exports to the EU.

“I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” he said.

Ah, well. We all know Michael Gove’s views about experts.

Yes indeed. Mr Gove said the people of the UK had had enough of experts getting it wrong all the time.

Unfortunately for him, it seems the experts – and, yes, they do come from an organisation that can be reduced to an acronym – were right and he was wrong.

I wonder how many billions of pounds he has cost his fellow UK citizens?

Source: Fury at Gove as exports to EU slashed by 68% since Brexit | Brexit | The Guardian

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A week after Brexit, how are the UK and the EU getting on? Not very well, it seems

I was going to leave the headline as a rhetorical question but too many people would have tried to answer without reading the article.

And who can blame them? It all seems a nasty mess at the moment. But are these really only teething problems?

Here comes the list:

The UK and the EU are heading towards a confrontation over financial services after trading in £6 billion worth of euro-dominated shares started moving to European continental stock exchanges in Amsterdam and Paris.

UK financial service providers and banks have lost the so-called passport that gave them the right to operate without restrictions throughout the EU, and now depend on unilateral decisions from European authorities to extend them an “equivalence” based on regulatory convergence, sector by sector.

Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey has said the UK should not become a so-called “rule taker” by mimicking EU regulations just for the sake of obtaining an access to European markets.

To This Writer’s uncultured eye, he seems to be saying we should lose a lot of business. Or is he he suggesting that trade will come back to the UK if businesses see an advantage in trading outside EU regulations?

This is not likely to sort itself out for several years.

Marks & Spencer has discovered holes in the so-called “zero tariff” trade deal with the EU that means its Percy Pig sweets – manufactured in Germany, transported to the UK, and then re-exported to other countries like Ireland – would face taxation and bureaucratic “red tape” costs.

The firm has already dropped hundreds of products, including chocolate fudge pudding and sweet and sour chicken, from its Northern Ireland stores after it saw competitors’ lorries barred from travelling between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

John Lewis has scrapped deliveries of its products to EU countries (although the firm says this is because of a business decision to concentrate on the UK). Debenhams and Fortnum & Masons have also suspended deliveries to Ireland and the EU respectively, blaming uncertainty over post-Brexit trading rules.

Scottish seafood firms are already facing financial difficulty as new post-Brexit rules demand that every single box has to be offloaded from lorries, opened and checked by vets before leaving Scotland – creating five-hour delays per lorry.

And overseas customers are cancelling orders – putting the £1 billion-per-year business in jeopardy.

Expect much more of the same in the future.

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Boris Johnson can’t even get his facts right about porkie pies

Pig-eyed: Is this the expression Boris Johnson pulls when he’s eating porkie pies… or when he’s telling them?

The UK’s prime minister is so inept he cannot even tell the truth about pork pies, it has been revealed.

Boris Johnson, pilloried as a “known liar” last week by Channel 4’s news chief, has been revealed to be unable to get his facts right in a row about the humble Melton Mowbray pork pie.

In a rather desperate bid to encourage Donald Trump into cutting tariffs on UK exports to the United States, BoJob had claimed that pies from the UK town are exported to other countries but not the US.

He was wrong.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said the pork pies are exported to Thailand and Iceland, but not the US.

But the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association said they were not exported to those countries as far as it knew.

Downing Street said pie producer Walker & Sons exported pies to numerous countries – but Walker & Sons told the BBC that was not correct.

The company said it used to export a “tiny amount” of pork pies to Singapore, but had not done so for “at least two years” and is now “entirely focused on the UK market”.

This is a critical time for the United Kingdom. Brexit makes this nation particularly vulnerable.

At such a time, we need a prime minister with a firm grip of the facts.

Instead we have an overgrown, backward schoolboy who thinks bluff and bluster can substitute for accuracy and who will undoubtedly do his country an uncountable amount of harm.

Source: Melton Mowbray pork pie makers and No 10 clash over Johnson claim – BBC News

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Rona Fairhead’s record should disqualify her from public office, but the Tories have found her two. Why?

Rona Fairhead: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens? [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock.]

Rona Fairhead was well-known to be a Conservative when she was appointed as chair of the BBC Trust. I commented on her political persuasion here and here.

It turns out she was also chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank was mired in tax avoidance and money laundering scandals. It also transpires that George Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned the US government not to press criminal charges against HSBC for allowing terrorists and drug dealers to launder millions of dollars.

One has to question whether Mr Osborne would have – if he had been editing the Evening Standard at the time – discouraged reporters there from writing about HSBC, as happened at the Daily Telegraph. Ah, but of course the Torygraph had recently benefited from a stonkingly huge HSBC loan – £250 million. That kind of money can seal a lot of laptops.

But then again, it was alleged earlier this year that HSBC laundered £5 million into Conservative Party hands, in advance of the 2010 general election. Would that be enough to buy George Osborne’s loyalty? I leave that to your own judgement.

Meanwhile, Ms Fairhead is now the Tory minister in charge of trade and export promotion, after being rewarded with a peerage for… well, for being involved in lots of scandals, apparently.

Tories have ‘form’ in this respect – former HSBC chairman Stephen Green quit his job (after the bank was involved in the scandals listed above) to become a Tory peer and minister of state for trade and investment in 2011.

Stephen Green: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Here‘s the Guardian‘s piece on Ms Fairhead’s appointment:

The former chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead has been appointed as an international trade minister with a life peerage, Downing Street has announced.

Fairhead will replace Mark Price, the former Waitrose managing director who quit after a year as trade policy minister. The MP Greg Hands has taken over the policy role, and Fairhead’s title will be minister for trade and export promotion.

Fairhead was the chief executive of the Financial Times Group before taking on the BBC role, from which she resigned after Theresa May indicated that she would have to reapply for the job to which she had been appointed by David Cameron.

Fairhead was the chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank admitted to “past compliance and control failures” in the group, after it was mired in a tax avoidance row uncovered by the Guardian’s HSBC files investigation.

The Graun reported that Labour’s Margaret Hodge had attacked the appointment, saying it was “not down to her capabilities”. And she’s not the only one with issues:

It seems clear the Conservative government has a problem understanding the concept of trustworthiness.

A person who has been involved with a business that has regularly and unrepentantly engaged in criminal activities should not have been made chair of the BBC Trust, as David Cameron did. It casts doubt on the reasons for the appointment and raises questions about interference with BBC current affairs coverage.

Theresa May was right to demand that Ms Fairhead re-apply for the job, under those circumstances. But now she has shown a colossal error of judgement in giving the same person a peerage and ministerial appointment. Why? One has to ask what is behind this decision.

Whatever the answer to that question, we can be sure that Ms Fairhead’s appearance in the House of Lords can only undermine what little faith is left in the Conservatives as a party of government.


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Exports and the economy slump under Tories

Since last June’s Brexit vote goods export volumes are up 6 per cent. But over that period import volumes are also up 6.3 per cent, suggesting no contribution to GDP growth from net goods trade [Image: Bloomberg News].


This is Tory Britain:

A disappointing performance for exports in June pushed the trade deficit higher than expected according to the latest batch of official data, frustrating hopes of a currency-driven rebalancing of the UK economy.

Manufacturing also stagnated in the month and construction went backwards adding to the impression of Britain losing momentum as the clock ticks down to Brexit in 2019.

Goods export volumes fell 4.9 per cent in June, the biggest monthly fall since June 2016, while imports were up 1.5 per cent, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Read more: UK trade deficit higher than forecasts as goods exports drop near 5% in June


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UK trade deficit widens to £1.6bn in June – BBC News

You have to admire the “glass half full” reporting style of news pieces covering the UK’s trade deficit.

Every month, every quarter, every year they tell us we’re losing billions, that manufacturing is down and that the services sector is all that’s keeping us from commercial oblivion (due to lack of investment in anything that actually makes anything).

But they always manage to find a bright side – in this case, it’s worse than last month but not as bad as the last quarter. Great!

Who’s fooled?

The UK trade deficit almost doubled in June to £1.6bn, from £885m the previous month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

A deficit of £9.2bn on goods was partly offset by a £7.6bn surplus on services.

Exports fell slightly, reflecting in part weaker demand in the eurozone.

Despite the sharp monthly increase, the deficit for the second quarter was, at £4.9bn, considerably smaller than the £7.5bn deficit recorded in the first three months of the year.

Source: UK trade deficit widens to £1.6bn in June – BBC News

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Are we really stupid enough to believe Israel is spending £7.8bn on CRYPTOGRAPHY?

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

After yesterday’s article on Gaza was written, Yr Obdt Srvt opened the new edition of Private Eye and read the following on page 29:

“Downing Street’s promise on Monday to review all the UK’s arms export licences to Israel will come as no surprise to anyone who has perused a recent report from MPs… The report revealed the continuing mystery of licences for £7.8bn worth of equipment, mainly ‘cryptographic equipment, software and technology’.”

Really?

But page 5 of the same magazine states: “Many of the countries the UK supplies are flagged up by the Foreign Office as being ‘countries of human rights concern’. They account for £11.9bn of UK arms sales and include China, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, who have been sold ‘cryptography’ equipment – essentially kit to disguise communications, infiltrate external websites and protect their own from surveillance.”

Really.

That costs £7.8 billion in Israel but only £3.1 billion to all these other countries, does it? And it’s before taking out sales of any shoot-bang-kill weapons, too.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia total more than £1.5 billion, and to China another £600 million or so. That leaves £1 billion between Yemen, Iran (!) and anyone else not mentioned in the article.

It’s not believable. Even if the software licence was the most expensive ever, it beggars belief that Israel would be willing to pay 16 times as much as – for example – Iran, for the same equipment.

Meanwhile, an article in today’s Guardian clarifies how this kit will be used. The country’s right-wing government is intent on suppressing dissent against its military operations in Palestinian areas and has worked hard to ensure that around 95 per cent of the public support it.

This leaves five per cent of the population, who are afraid to voice their opinion openly for fear of being attacked in the street. Left-wing commentator Gideon Levy, who has written in opposition to the assaults, has suffered epistolary attacks from (among others) Eldad Yaniv, former political adviser to ex-prime minister Ehud Barack. Yaniv wrote on his Facebook page: “The late Gideon Levy. Get used to it.”

It does not seem far from the realms of possibility that a government that has generated this kind of support would buy surveillance equipment to snoop on its detractors in search of any evidence that could bring them down.

“What is different this time is the anti-democratic spirit,” Levy states in the Guardian article. “Zero tolerance of any kind of criticism, opposition to any kind of sympathy with the Palestinians,” says Levy. “You shouldn’t be surprised that the 95 per cent [are in favour of the war], you should be surprised at the 5 per cent. This is almost a miracle. The media has an enormous role. Given the decades of demonisation of the Palestinians, the incitement and hatred, don’t be surprised the Israeli people are where they are.”

Is this not exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany, back in the 1930s? Isn’t it exactly what Roger Waters was protesting against, as mentioned in yesterday’s VP article? And did the Nazis not use surveillance techniques via their secret police, the Gestapo, to ensure dissent was suppressed and propaganda in support of their policies held sway over public opinion?

(It should be noted that none of this should be used to suggest that the Palestinian organisation Hamas was right to launch attacks on Israel. The plight of the people of Gaza is real but must be settled by peaceful means; violence can only ever make matters worse in the long run.)

Now come back to the UK, where we have a right-wing government that has worked extremely hard to ensure that the mass media put forward only stories supporting its policies and point of view. Is it not possible that a government in possession of the kind of surveillance equipment it is exporting to ‘countries of human rights concern’ – a government that is known to have extremely unsound beliefs about human rights – might turn that equipment on its own people?

These are dangerous times for all of us.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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