As it’s the first of April and the British Government has been making a fool of itself the entire week leading up to it, I thought I’d be supportive and help Theresa May and her Brexit cabinet make the most of their long awaited Article 50 announcement last Wednesday. It’s time to unite behind her instead of my usual sneering from the side lines.
Time and time again the British government has been told there can be no start to formal EU-UK future trade negotiations until the formal UK-EU divorce arrangements and final EU leaving bill has been agreed. UK Minister for Brexit David Davis doesn’t seem to want to take ‘no’ for an answer and insists these two thorny issues can and will be discussed and decided in parallel. He’s in control you see?
The issue of free trade with EU is important because brexit voters have been told time and time again that Britain buys much more from EU countries than the other way around. So they need us you see?
“They’ll trade, because they need us more than we them” is the usual leave mantra.
Kippers are convinced the EU is for the chop as soon as Bankers in the City of London stop spending their inordinate annual bonuses on prestige German cars and fine French wines. And those lovely folk in the City are just dying to show their solidarity (if they still have a job after brexit of course).
In fact it is true that trade in goods with the EU shows a massive deficit for the UK. This deficit is only partially offset by a positive trade in ‘Services’ as the ONS figures below clearly confirm.
Brexit voters in the UK’s EU referendum last June were told by the Leave campaign that somehow this pernicious UK trade deficit could be blamed on restrictive and protectionist EU trade practices. Somehow ‘they’ refuse to play ball and buy British in return for ‘our’ EU brand loyalties. Kippers were also led to believe that contrary to EU trade, trade with the non-EU Rest of the World (ROW) was not only growing fast and furious, but also showed a healthy surplus. This the above figures published by the UK’s Office of National Statistics clearly exposes as another brexit lie.
What the above figures seem to tell us is that the UK just isn’t very good at trading profitably. The buying from abroad bit comes naturally to Brits who venture abroad. They instinctively believe all foreign sellers of goods and services (like their Greek holiday waiters) are just as much in awe of the precious Pound in their pocket as your average kipper. That the currency markets seem otherwise inclined has not really hit home with brexit voters yet. During the first few months after the brexit vote British consumers were shielded from the negative effects of a devaluing pound because big companies had prudently booked currency deals well in advance of the referendum to cover risks to their outstanding import bills. These currency deals are now slowly running out and inflation from more expensive foreign imports is starting to bite.
Only last week the Guardian reported rising food and fuel prices have hoisted UK inflation rate to 2.3%
So the obvious solution to the UK’s brexit balance of payment deficit conundrum seems to be importing less from a protective and expensive EU and more from all these third world countries we’ll sign ‘Free Trade’ deals with.
So why not start a major global export drive after Britain leaves the largest single market right on its doorstep? New World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs will soon offset any price advantage afforded by the UK’s fast depreciating currency, so we urgently have to up our game UK!
Below are my two pennies worth of contributions for Theresa May to make brexit a success in terms of increased global trade and closing that worrying trade deficit for brexit Britain. As someone with a Business degree from the prestigious ‘Rotterdam School of Management’ (RSM) I used a ‘strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats’ (SWOT) analysis, making use of insights gained from thirty years of living and doing business in Great Britain. It all points to one glorious conclusion!
Exploit UK comparative advantage as a modern knowledge based ‘Services’ economy.
According to the Financial Times the so called ‘Services sector’ now represents close to 80% of the UK economy. It would play to the UK’s strength to concentrate brexit negotiating efforts in this area, as it may represent a ‘quick win’ for May. The fact that most of UK’s manufacturing sites on the edge of towns have been turned into John Lewis and Waitrose supermarkets means we can’t quickly ramp up production of physical goods anyway, so let’s sell the world fiction. There seems to be an almost limitless supply of that particular UK resource amongst leave voters.
Here is my own list of best selling services export opportunities:
- Ideas above our station.
Brits excel at thinking they’re better than anyone else. Even though after the brexit vote the UK tumbled two places in the global GDP ranking, we still firmly believe we’re the fifth largest economy in the world. If and when we join a club, we’re the natural leaders be cause we can speak English slowly and clearly in a loud voice, giving us natural authority. This means we can be Chairman of the Board or Managing Director of any foreign tin pot company or NGO. The fat salary British executives demand [after Brexit] could be repatriated and taxed by HMRC with a brexit levy supporting our National Health Service! This would make good on another vote.leave promise! UK folk channeling foreign earnings to tax havens in the Cayman Islands or Panama will have to be outlawed of course. Not a problem for a true Tory that has promised brexit would benefit all of us right?
- Queueing Services
One thing Brits are undisputed leaders in the world in is queuing for services.
They spontaneously form the most orderly and well humoured lines, whether it is at village Post Office counter or inner city Food Banks. Of course after leaving the EU Customs Union queuing could become a whole new economic activity for ONS to report on and boost GDP figures. The M20 will turn into a gigantic lorry park for UK lorries to clear French customs facilities. It would just not be fair to leave lorry drivers in their cabins unwashed and unshaven for days on end. We can train UK youngsters to baby sit parked trucks in between picking fruit at Kent farms. Why not let our most experienced queuers perform this valuable service world wide?
- Pomp and Ceremony
Nobody does pageantry better than the Brits. Got some minor Royal marrying, giving birth or popping their clogs? Let Brits do the PR for your event, plan the opulent festivities or wake, lay on the music and turn this into a real spectacle for billions of TV viewers worldwide. Remember our recent Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies were also second to none.
- Army for hire
After the USA, Russia, China, India and France the UK is listed as the sixth Country ranked by Military Strength and fire power. You can discount France anyway, because they are surrender monkeys. The USA will testify we’re always willing to step up to the plate and join in some foreign military adventure. With the UK army in tow, you can call your expedition force a “Peace making coalition”, which sounds much nicer than a “foreign invader” on a pretense mission. In return all we ask is to sign a “Free Trade Agreement” in which you promise to buy lots of weapon systems from BEA Systems in return for something we need like oil.
- Distorted world views and popular fiction
Britain once had an Empire on which the sun never set. Some might cheekily say that God did not trust us in the dark, but that’s blatantly not true. Just look at the genuine warmth with which our Royal Family is greeted by Aboriginals anywhere on the planet.We also learned the following from a leading Leave campaigner Dan Hannan:
“Far-flung Commonwealth nations would make a far more natural trade bloc than the EU. It never made much sense to abandon a diverse market, which comprised agricultural, industrial and service economies, in favour of a union of similar Western European states.”
Never mind that was only true during the reign of Queen Victoria and the UK’s Industrial Revolution when the UK was the industrial sweatshop of the world. It still sounds good today to kippers even though the rest of us know China took over that global role a long time ago. The bit where Mahatma Gandhi spun his own yarn and wove his own loin cloth was a bit of modern history Hannan obviously never read in Oxford.
I could go on for a while, but was hoping a for a few additional ideas from my growing number of blog subscribers and Twitter followers.
Maybe we could start a new trend with hash tag #Export4Brexit ?
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