Let’s unite behind Theresa May and make Brexit a success!!

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.

UK looses its shirt wherever they trade. They're just not very good at it?

UK balance of trade in goods and Services 2016

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.

‘Buy British’ where possible is also a possible remedy, but this has time and time proven almost impossible to keep up for the discerning British consumer.


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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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Selling the family silver (2)

In June 2015 I posted a blog titled “Selling the family silver”.  In it I remarked that the UK’s exports of gold to China (via Switzerland) were boosting the Eurosceptic No voters mistaken belief, that trade with the non-EU ROW was healthy and rising.

I called it selling the family ‘s silver [gold actually!]


A recent article in the FT took the lid some more off this dirty little secret of Theresa May’s Tory party.

“The Chinese market uses gold bars in a different size to the ones that are held in London so they import via Switzerland where the bars are recast, said Oliver Harvey, a foreign exchange analyst with Deutsche Bank. In the final three months of 2016, UK goods exports to Switzerland increased by 282 per cent to their highest level ever.”

So it dawned on me that’s maybe how the disastrous Q3 non-EU trade figures ONS reported were suddenly reversed in Q4! See the devil is all in the detail.

So I decided to delve a little deeper into the ONS latest Trade report for December 2016 and sure enough, I found the confirmation all is not what it seems to be with Britain’s healthy Brexit trade figures. The report gives us the long anticipated Q4 figures, the second full quarter after the UK’s disastrous Brexit vote.

Look how “unspecified goods” dominate the so called booming post Brexit exports to non EU countries.


The main commodities contributing to this growth, in particular exports to non-EU countries, were unspecified goods (including non-monetary gold)

In conclusion, I remain an arch sceptic when it comes to all this fake news, purporting to show that after the June 24 decision to leave the EU is far from being in economic melt down. It quite literally is!

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Yes I am Marching again on March 25

I think the last time I was angry and motivated enough to join a protest march was at an anti-Vietnam-war Jane Fonda rally in Ann Arbor Michigan in the seventies. I now have RyanAir flights booked to join an anti Brexit March being organised in London for May 25th.


A friend of mine on FaceBook responded: “Why can’t people accept the vote was a majority against remaining in the EU? Instead of implying that we are all idiots, we should be pulling together and working to implement the decision that was made by a fair vote.”

A fair vote? More people were excluded from that vote, than voted in favour of leaving the EU.  I  for one was in a disenfranchised “can’t vote” category even though I paid 30 years of UK National Insurance contributions. Yet young Australian backpackers that happened to be in the UK a few weeks could vote for fun. How is that fair? Why do British ex-pats living in another country for more than 15 years lose their vote on something that important that affects them more than anyone else? Why could 16-18 year olds not vote? They have to live with the consequences of Brexit much longer than any of us?

How is it fair that my UK born daughter could in theory be asked to sit a UK citizenship exam after Brexit, when she’s been teaching British kids all her adult life? Just because she renewed her Dutch passport once or twice? An EU passport I foisted on her as a baby and she kept for fun as part of her European identity of which she is proud!

I for one have no problem putting the referendum result aside, just as I think it’s fair to strip an athlete of any medals gained when found to have been cheating to win a race.
Let’s not forget:

  • The leave vote includes many voter types who would have easily cancelled each other out, had this not been made into a fake binary choice to stay or leave EU.
    So we have socialist workers wanting to keep open outdated UK power and steel plants voting to leave EU alongside ‘free trade’ types that openly admit that shutting such outdated clapped out plants down would be the first consequence of opening the UK up to open global competition after Brexit. Note in reality it was the UK government who blocked EU raising punitive tariffs on Chinese steel dumping practices, but it suits those same UK politicians if the blame for not protecting UK jobs can be laid at Brussels doors instead of much closer to home. The UK government is now totally reliant on Chinese investors to keep the UK’s trade books balanced.
  • In the UK we’ve seen 40 years of relentless anti EU propaganda by the likes of Rupert Murdoch who owns the Sun and  the Times. The pornographer Richard Desmond who owns the Express and arch Eurosceptic Paul Dacre who edits the Daily Fail
  • The UK government excels in bypassing parliament by proposing unpopular but necessary rules and regulation in Brussels, getting it passed there by a majority vote. They like this because in this way they can pass the blame on faceless EU technocrats instead of taking flak back home. Nobody in UK parliament holds UK representatives to account, how they actually voted in the EU council of Ministers. Nobody asks them about their shadowy deals, if they stood up for Britain in Brussels. Instead we see a lot of ‘it wasn’t me Guv’ crocodile tears.
  • Then we have the tendency for Whitehall types to gold plate every directive that comes out of Brussels and pride themselves to implement them the very next day. Few realise UK regulators restrict financial institutions more in London than mandated by Brussels. Perhaps because the UK knows how crooked the City is?
    Or in the case of restrictions on free movement for recently joined poor Eastern EU countries, who in the UK knows we could have applied travel restrictions quite legally for years and years!…. But, Oh no we won’t do that. No need for all that. If it all goes pearshaped we’ll just blame Brussels again.

I could go on and on like this. Just read other articles in this blog. And if you get the impression, well actually we have been rather pigheaded and thick as pig shit in Britain in our past EU dealings, well I could’t agree more. My tactful reply in ‘House of cards’ style would be: “You may very well say that, I couldn’t possible comment”.

Point is the referendum was not made legally binding by clever Whitehall design or by shere Tory dimwit negligence. If Jacob Rees Mogg checked his golf club association rules he’d soon discover there a 52% majority can’t set ground rules, like allowing lady players, aside. Usually they need at least 70% of members to agree fundamental changes. He’d argue that kind of protection is built in most club rules for good reason. But something as important as EU membership only requires a simple majority? Think again folk! Over confident arrogance doesn’t even begin to cover it!

Maybe it was Sir Humphrey deliberately not reminding Camoron of that little emergency ‘advisory only’ exit for the shit storm he surely saw coming. After all the UK had a much respected ambassador in Brussels in Sir Ivan Rogers, who kept ringing alarm bells that things were being misrepresented, over simplified. He’s now fired for being ‘unpatriotic’. That’s how far dealing in expert facts get you in Brexit Britain.

Fact is you Brits should count yourselves lucky to have a way out of this Brexit madness. More and more people are waking up to the fact, that rather than pointless asking half of the country to start engaging in collective self harm with a bunch of loony kippers, we need to pull back from the brink. Rather than shooting ourselves in the foot, killing our services sector by restricting the free movement of people our most profitable economic sector requires, we should embrace it for the personal freedom it gives us in return. Freedom to retire to a place in the sun for hundreds of thousands.

Why not come to our collective senses and admit we’ve been had by some very louche types, some clearly racist types, some irresponsible free trade types. People who don’t give a damn about the collective costs of it all.

Let’s stop making ourselves the laughing stock of the free western world sucking up to the likes of Trump. Earning ridicule trying to make up for the loss of our nearest and biggest car and agricultural markets by selling weapons to the the likes of Erdogan in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

This is not the cool Britannia I know! I’m with chunkymark on this. Watch the video to end this evenings entertainment. https://youtu.be/TqRLL_rvxPw



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The economics of Brexit

Happy new year brexit voters

Happy new year brexit voters

The #brexit Hashtag I follow religiously on twitter because I am interested in economy and exasperated with this idea that somehow the six months that followed the UK’s disastrous vote to leave the EU somehow proved us brexit doomsayers wrong.

What will 2017 bring? I’d like to think prosperity and happiness, but I am afraid
‘We ain’t seen nothing yet’ in terms of the economic self harm the UK is set to embark on.

It really is incredible that you have to point out to these die hard Brexit now! shouters, that the UK hasn’t left the EU, until Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty is actually invoked.

The UK Prime Minister has predicted  this would take place no later than March 31st 2017. But even then, there are multiple legal and constitutional hurdles to overcome, which will add at least another two years before a brexit will effectively kick in.

Meanwhile any economic good news reported by the Media can just as easily be ascribed to the fact that the UK hasn’t actually left the EU yet, hence is still benefitting from full single market access, EU negotiated trade deals etc. and the market clout of being in the largest integrated economic area in the world.

What is clear to leavers and remainers alike is that the continued uncertainty around what kind of brexit we might actually get is quite accurately reflected in the abysmal performance of the UK Pound Stirling in the exchange markets. The almost cliff edge drop, the day after the vote, is kind of hard to ignore, as is every downward jitter every time a cabinet minister opens his mouth about leaving the Single Market with a ‘Hard Brexit’.
This is followed by a small release of pressure on the pound each time a suggestion is leaked by the ministry of Brexit, that the UK might actually pay to stay in Single Market and EU Customs Union in a kind of Norway or Swiss style EEA membership.

Meanwhile we have had only one meaningful report on the impact of the June leave vote on the UK’s Gross Domestic Product by the UK’s independent Office of National Statistics (ONS). This report was published 27 October 2016 and covers Q3 (July-August-September) with another one due on Q4 mid  January 2017. Any other glowing economic news on the impact of brexit by Eurosceptic papers like the Telegraph or the Daily Express must be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

So while the UK economy seems sofar to have escaped a disastrous impact of the brexit vote, most economists agree that this is most likely just a stay of execution till Article 50 actually triggers an actual leaving of the European Economic Area and associated unfettered Single Market access.

Meanwhile here is an actual block quote from the Q3 2016 ONS GDP report:

“This is the first release of GDP covering a full quarter of data following the EU referendum. The pattern of growth continues to be broadly unaffected following the EU referendum with a strong performance in the services industries offsetting falls in other industrial groups.”

“In Quarter 3 2016, the services industries increased by 0.8%. In contrast, output decreased in the other 3 main industrial groups with construction decreasing by 1.4%, agriculture decreasing by 0.7% and production decreasing by 0.4%, within which manufacturing decreased by 1.0%.”

For me what stands out is the continued decline of the UK Manufacturing sector, while some Brexit shouters cling on to the idea that it is on some sort of 25 year high!

Also the positive impact on UK exports from a devalued pound remains elusive. The UK still trades at a loss with a negative balance of trade in goods balanced by a positive trade in ‘Services’, the sector of the UK economy most under threat by a brexit. And this “we’ll trade globally” nonsense? In October also trade with non-EU countries went into the red. Not a thing you will hear many kippers shout about. Here’s a quote from the latest report from HM Revenue and Customs:

“In Non-EU trade the UK was a net importer this month,
with imports exceeding exports by £4.9 billion.”

They continue with their “They’ll trade’ nonsense regurgitated day in day out by kippers and eurosceptic ‘nice but dim’ Tories in their Closed Ideology Echo Chamber with no-one there seriously challenging them. What is worse, lazy journalists like Andrew Marr often start a TV interview with pro -EU politicians by repeating and hence re-enforcing these EU and UK fake economic ‘good news’ stories, because they are too lazy to check on their veracity.

Meanwhile the Independent warns us that brexit will send UK tumbling down world economic league table with both France and India overtaking Great Britain.

“Covering 188 countries the Cebr’s World League Table forecasts that the UK will have the seventh largest economy between 2017 and 2025, before slipping back to eighth place in 2030.”

The most often repeated brexit good news myth is the continuing rise of the FTSE 100, an index of the UK stock market. Even the Express warns their gullible readers that this is mainly an effect of the falling Pound:

“The rallies have been driven by a fall in the pound, which is sitting at 31-year lows of 1.145 against the dollar, and 1.277 – its lowest level in three years against – the euro, boosting the earning potential of UK-listed firms with overseas earnings.

Sterling’s fall also makes stocks cheaper for overseas investors to buy stocks.”

Very helpfully the ft.com web site allows the reader to view the City of London stock market performance over the six month since the referendum in US dollars.
I am happy to reproduce a screenshot from Jan 2, 2017 here:


Note, rather than at an all time high UK FTSE 100 5% down since Brexit vote Happy New Year!

Two years ago I published a blog post on a bunch of  pro-brexit economic mantras that do not stand up to any kind of scrutiny and defy common sense.  Today I have no qualms about literally cutting and pasting the same mantras with one or two new insights.

I think in today’s blog I have dispelled three new (post brexit vote) myths

  • The UK Stockmarket is fully recovered and in fact at an all time high since brexit
    ( it is actually 5% down since Britain voted to leave the EU)
  • UK Manufacturing is at a 25 year high and our exports are benefitting from a devalued Pound Sterling.
    (In fact even with non-EU countries our imports now exceed UK exports)
  • We are such an economic power house countries are queuing up to sign trade deals with UK ( in fact we slipped from fifth to seventh in the world economic rankings)

I repeat my challenge to ‘Leavers’ to debunk anything I say on the UK economy with their own rosy version of what actually is happening after the June referendum vote. I repeat below nine myths already debunked 2 years ago, because they are worth repeating and still stand today:

If you are already familiar with this post I suggest you stop reading at this point.

  • In the EU we are shackled to a moribund corpse in terminal decline
  • EU red tape is holding the UK back. 90% of UK businesess don’t need regulation
  • The percentage of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the EU is shrinking
  • Look at all these developing countries showing 6-8% annual growth, we’re missing out not trading with them
  • After #brexit we will be free to trade with the world
  • We should have never deserted our friends in the Commonwealth
  • Our trade with the EU is massively distorted by the Rotterdam-Antwerp effect
  • If only we could make our own trade deals, sit at the top of the WTO table again
  • The EU will still trade with us after brexit because we buy more from them, than they from us, we are in a position of power.

EU a basket case in terminal decline?
Before working our way through the list of above fallacies let me remind the reader that, whatever its sins, with its 500 million consumers and $18-trillion GDP, the European Union is still the world’s single largest integrated economic area, and it’s right on the UK’s doorstep, not half way around the globe! Even if since the 2008 financial crisis, EU growth has hovered just above freezing point these last few years, 0.4% growth of a $18-trillion GDP is still an awfully big number! If economic genius @RedHotSquirrel, aka ukip’s Robert Kimbell quotes, as he likes to do ad nauseam, yet another random African country with five or six percent growth, so what? Basically it means, that if EU growth remained stagnant  over the same period period, it would take Africa 50 years growing at 5% just to catch up with the EU!


We all know that growth usually happens in spurts, in economic cycles that come and go, taking the economy up and then down again. There are no indicators that the EU economies will actually seriously contract again in the near future. The latest Quantitative Easing measures announced by the ECB might even get the EU’s sluggish economies moving again? It seemed to have done the trick in the USA. In any case, 500 M. consumers in the EU will still eat, go on holidays and replace household goods. Buy things made in Britain! They are not ‘dead’ by any means of ukip’s imagination or wishful thinking!

A mathematical certainty: Global GDP cannot rise above 100%
Incorrigible Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan MEP likes to bang on about the fact that Europe’s percentage of global GDP is in long term decline. He loves to say:

“In the year we joined, western Europe accounted for 38 per cent of world GDP. Today it’s 24 per cent, and in 2020 it will be 15 per cent. Far from joining a prosperous market, we shackled ourselves to a corpse.”

Am I the only person to see the fallacy of this argument? Is this why both Hannan and Kimbell immediately blocked me on twitter, so I can’t prick through their vacuous arguments at will?  Of course it is either terribly misleading or incredibly stupid to make such outrageous propaganda claims. With the best will in the world, all its nations’ GDP percentages always will add up to the same 100%. For most of the last century Europe and North America together have laid claim to about half of the world’s resources and squandered together 50% of its wealth, as commonly expressed in terms of  global GDP. Then emerged, what we like to call the developing economies of the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China, which are all at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development. Together they are now good for about 30% of global GDP. Do you think that an intelligent Oxford educated man like Hannan does not know, that it is a mathematical certainty, that as these countries take their share of global resources and output, the percentages representing the USA and EU must necessarily fall? Remember he is not some silly contestant in a TV show promising to give 110% to please, please stay in ‘Britain’s got talent’ or the X-factor. He is a devious #brexit demagogue of the worst kind, because unlike his ukip adulators, you sense he is kinda smart! He knows full well, that if you bandy about economic half truths like that, some of it will stick in the minds of UKIP and Tory Eurosceptic simpletons. The fact of the matter is: Europe can have growth in absolute terms, while declining in relative terms. That is not a bad sign my kipper friends, it’s a good sign of rebalancing global economies and continuing world progress and harmonisation. We in the West have had it our way far too long, while whole continents suffered in poverty to feed our greed. The next time a kipper tells you the EU’s economy is shrinking remind them only Finland and Greece still have that problem. The rest are growing fine,  just not as fast as some developing nations playing catch-up. Spain actually grew faster than the UK in 2015, but kippers prefer to point their little finger at Greece.

We abandoned our friends in the Commonwealth
The next thing your typical ukip brexit activist likes to tweet on and on about is how well the old British Commonwealth is doing, and how we should have never abandoned them in favour of the EU Common Market.  This is another favorite Hannan propaganda line.

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.

That is absolute bollocks Daniel. That line may have made sense for the British Empire, when you could send in the gun boats and enforce such a colonial trade policy. Didn’t you study modern history in Oxford Daniel? Forgotten the image of Gandhi spinning his own yarn as a peaceful protest against UK manufactured goods? Your idea of trade is not how modern nations operate today. I owe you references, but I have been taught in economics that nearby nations of a similar wealth and stage of economic development benefit most from trade. Not trade that exploits their natural resources and dumps unwanted manufactured goods on ex-colonies. We are talking about a ‘mutual beneficial trade’ with the EU, because the consumers in EU countries like the additional choice that such trade offers. An example of consumer choice is a Frenchman ‘sick’ of all the Renaults, Citroens and Peugeots in his street and instead would like to make a statement driving a sporty UK Nissan, a cool Mini or even a ‘posh’ Range Rover. This is a win-win two way kind of trade, not the pillaging of the colonies you Hannan seem to be lusting after. But I am sure that kind of neo-colonial ‘Britannia rules the waves again’ talk goes down a lot better with your ukip followers. One kipper @leslieappleyard  was so desperate to prove your point, that he found a quote for shipping a container to Auckland New Zealand that was two hundred pounds cheaper than sending the same size to Athens. He made a big thing of it on twitter:


What Leslie and most would be world traders don’t realise is that if you are running a trade deficit with most of the world’s economies, that manifests itself in a lot of empty return containers making their way back to Europe, China, or wherever.  Of course shipping lines will do special deals to ensure some of those containers contain actual goods produced in the UK, rather than remain empty. Just like RyanAir offers you heavily discounted midweek flights to the continent, rather than flying empty planes back and forth. Common sense should tell you that the closer your market, the cheaper your transport costs. But when it comes to brexit, common sense is the first victim in a kipper’s mind. So Auckland must be closer than Athens, and because in Malawi they enjoyed 8% growth from nothing, with their per capita GDP of less than a thousand bucks per year, in some kipper’s eyes they are now candidates to sell all those unsold Sunderland Nissans to after brexit? Who are they fooling in their ukip bubble?

Our Chief has a Range Rover!

Our Chief has a Range Rover!

If you don’t believe me here is an Australian Wayne Cole making the point U.K. trade could face cold reception from former colonies.

“For all the shared history, Britain is a fading presence in its former colonies. Australia’s Prime Minister is an avowed republican. New Zealand is voting on whether to remake its flag without a Union Flag.”

Don’t clutch at the Rotterdam-Antwerp effect my kipper friends
Whenever you tell a kipper that roughly half of the UK’s trade is with its  EU neighbours, the scripted ukip answer is that EU trade figures are just another establishment lie. They’ll have picked up from the Daily-Express or Dan Hannan, that really our trade with the ‘English speaking nations’ of this world is much bigger than official ONS figures for  trade with Europe. (Note that conveniently, in the trade definitions they use, now the Commonwealth and the USA are clubbed together for effect. Even ex-colony Hong Kong and other city states that speak a few word of English are thrown in). The debating line will be that the true size of EU trade is overblown because of so many of UK exports are shipped through the nearby ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, therefor are classed as EU exports, when in reality their end destination is elsewhere in the rest of the world. You’d think that the few kippers that can count, would find it a tad strange that even with Holland the UK cannot seem to manage a positive trade balance? I  refer of course to all those exports destined for the Commonwealth wrongly attributed to the Netherlands or Belgium and hence to the EU? The problem is that few kippers have properly read, let alone understood the Civitas report that the Express likes to misquote in its many anti-EU propaganda drives. Civitas themselves warn in their conclusions not to “overestimate the Rotterdam-Antwerp effect” and that ” the overall trade distortion of the Rotterdam-Antwerp effect is not great”. Pascal in his excellent “EU-debate” blog demolishes the trade distortion argument even further:

“I can even go further in my proof that it’s nothing to do with EU regulation.  The fact is that the same thing happens whoever we trade with. Therefore in the same way that UK-EU trade is inflated, so is UK-US trade. When we export oil to Canada and that oil stops at a US port before then going on to Canada, can you guess who we say we’ve traded with? Yep, the US.  This is particularly important as the US is our next biggest trading partner and so it is good to ensure the Eurosceptics don’t also use inflated figures when talking about how much we trade with other countries such as the US” .

Most countries of the EU have comparable wealth to the UK. Some actually a lot more! They generally make and buy the same sort of things the UK does. Often we make things together like Airbus, remember them? The great thing about our EU neighbours is, that like us, they appreciate choice in what and from whom they buy. EU industries’ value chains today are more and more interlinked. Much more so than with those in the rest of the world.  This is only possible because it is just a short stretch across the channel, with most EU export destinations in an easy one day’s drive reach for roll on roll off containers (the kind with trucks attached).

Data suggests that UK employment is very closely tied to EU partners via value-chains in a way that non-EU export jobs simply are not. This is no doubt in part driven by the simple fact that EU is so close, but it is also hard to believe that this is not driven by regulatory commonalities in the single market. These interwoven relationships along the value chain are in stark contrast to the kind of ‘ship and forget’ trade that appears more characteristic of non-EU trade”

The interwoven EU value chain rebuke can also be used to argue how many UK jobs are dependent on trade with the EU, although how many exactly is anyone’s guess.

Rather than worrying about signing a Free Trade Deal with the EU after a possible brexit Eurosceptics should do well to worry about the abysmal state of UK manufacturing.

Britain’s manufacturing base is one of the worst performing of the world’s developed countries, a recent shock report revealed. It is not just the handicap of exporting against an over valued pound. Brexit might bring that UK vanity project back to earth soon, in the sense that Sterling is already crashing at the thought of it. It’s more the fact that successive Tory governments don’t seem to have an industrial policy to raise UK’s poor productivity levels e.g. by stimulating innovation in manufacturing. For them it’s just about the City of London, where all their Public School chums work. Same with Farage.

Who can afford the luxury cars the UK manufactures so well (apart from Chinese millionaires, Russian oligarchs and a few tin pot dictators)?

The EU per capita GDP is $35,000 instead of the Commonwealth’s $3,500.  And that $3,500 average becomes a lot lower if we take the two richest Commonwealth nations Canada and Australia away from this figure. Go figure where the biggest market is for Jaguars, Bentleys, Rolls Royce?  But also for more down to earth UK Nissans, Tiptree Marmalade, Cadbury chocolate bars, McVitie’s Hobnobs. Not in some village in rural Africa! Not in the tribe lands of Pakistan. The truth is trade with the Commonwealth was in long term decline long before Britain decided to join the Common Market. There is no marked dip in the graph around  UK’s join date in 1973, just a continuation of a decline that set in shortly after WWII as the following graph clearly shows.


Out of the EU and into the world, an inconvenient reply
The next kipper argument goes that EU red tape is holding the UK back. Even if their own captain’s of industry actually say time and time that the amount of EU regulation is about right, and in any case a darned sight better than facing 28 sets of red tape and customs declarations as was the case before the Common Market created a customs union. The argument that just because a UK business doesn’t export to the EU it doesn’t need regulating is of course the biggest myth of them all. As if UK consumers don’t need protection. As if they’d put up with shoddy goods just because it has a label “Made in UK not for export to EU”. If anything UK consumers would run a mile from those products. I expanded on that subject in another blog post using Chinese Formula baby milk containing melamine as an example. No, EU standards will do nicely, even if only for consumption in the UK thank you very much Mr. Farage!china_exp

Germany and France face the same EU red tape as Britain yet outperform the UK when it comes to exports to China.

Lets take our place at the WTO top table again, but will we?
So what would happen after a brexit, that miraculously would set the UK free to ‘trade with the world again, according to ukip? First of all I would question the underlying assumption that the trade deals the EU makes for all of us are always skewed against the interests of the UK. We never see any proof when eurosceptics make those claims. Could the truth be far more inconvenient? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, Britain isn’t such a great trading nation in the first place? If I look at EU neighbour The Netherlands, this country earns almost 30% of its income from the export of goods and services. In 2012, the value of exports was 86.7% of the Netherlands’ GDP. The comparable figure for exports of goods and services (% of GDP) in the United Kingdom peaked at 32% in 2011, according to the World Bank. As a UK ex-pat living in France, you only have to try and get something delivered from back home, and you immediately run into a self defeating attitude, where British suppliers steadfastly refuse to deliver orders to the EU mainland, although no customs formalities are involved. The same for UK traders on eBay, they refuse to change their delivery default from ‘UK and Eire only’, as if it’s a chore to buy a few stamps for Europe along with 1st class stamps for UK customers? Yet these same small minded people will vote for UKIP and dream of Britain trading with the world after brexit? They think if they’d only take up their old membership of the World Trade Organisation(WTO) they would straight away sit right next to the EU at the top Table? Or is it more likely they would they sit in the main hall next to Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein clutching a copy of flexcit  Mr North? Remember these EEA countries follow EU rules, pay for the privilege, don’t vote for any of it.


If only the UK could make its own trade deals, sit at the top of the WTO table again?

They’d trade if brexit ( or maybe we’ll be the next Greece?)
My final scorn is reserved for @RuthLeaEcon.  Although not sure if she is a kipper or just Eurosceptic, she regularly tweets nonsense under the #brexit hashtag, while as a trained economist, she should know better.  One of her favourite clichés goes as follows: “They’d trade if #Brexit.”  Her reasoning, along with many kippers, seems to be that running a long term structural trade deficit with another country or trade block like the EU somehow makes that country beholden to you. Remember buying from abroad is easy. Getting them to return the favour is the hard bit. The UK should maybe start by making quality goods they actually want abroad, rather than thinking signing a piece of paper will do the trick as kippers suggest.


Well having studied a bit of economics myself, I find ‘They’d trade’ a bit hard to swallow. But kippers lap it up like my cat likes his morning milk. Common sense tells us that imports to a nation are like shopping to a family. Exports to a nation are like having an income to pay for the shopping bill. All families sometimes spend more than they make, but we also know that in the end it’s wise to balance our books and not go further and further into debt. At a macroeconomic level a trade deficit can in the short-term sometimes be offset by capital flows, but there is a big big caveat here long term, which every basic book on economics will tell you. And it’s not good news whatever Ruth and her kipper friends try to tell you.  I recently came across another blog from Henning Meyer who makes mince meat from the argument that the EU has so much more to lose. Using data from the MIT Observatory of Economic Complexity he points out “The EU doesn’t exist as one unit as it is a group of 27 countries. So the comparison is 1:27 and 27:1 – not 1:1

Some of those countries hardly sell anything to the UK but still will have a veto in any article 50  negotiations. Negotiations where UK is not at the table when they vote over any post brexit EU-UK trade deal.

“the rest of Europe sells us more stuff than we sell them and therefore they will give us a free trade deal as they don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot”. You can easily debunk this myth in 2-3 steps”

Henning’s arguments are well worth a read. I’ll just stick to my old economy text book:


A schoolbook text, why running a structural trade deficit for the UK economy is nothing for ukip to brag about, in the long run it will end in tears.

I hope I have debunked a few brexit economic half truths and fallacies. I know I will not get much of a reply here, because swiftly the kipper argument will change to the EU’s democratic deficit and hollow phrases like: “we never ware asked”, “we never got to vote on joining a political union” or “I don’t like it if 70% of our laws are made by nameless bureaucrats in Brussels”. They will throw quotes at you from Winston Churchill, which are totally doctored. Winston Churchill was a founding father of the EU and in his famous Zurich speech in 1946 very clearly said that sovereignty needs to be pooled sometimes, for greater effect. My ultimate answer to a kipper is that if you are that bothered where they make the rules on food labelling for a common market the UK joined after the first referendum in 1973, then maybe you have not got much of a life? Maybe you should get one? The principle of subsidiarity is now well ensconced in the Lisbon treaty and this political union will never happen. We need to take this with a pinch of salt. None of the EU member states want this ‘ever closer union’. None of them like red tape more than the UK. But the UK has to remain and be engaged in the EU decision making process to make sure talk of it doesn’t rear its head again. We now live in a globalised world and the challenges we face are better faced together in a United Europe. Not by scarping from the sidelines, while dreaming of an empire lost a long time ago.

Theresa May should think twice before invoking Article 50 in March. The tide against brexit has turned to such an extent there is no shame in this. The Referendum was made ‘Advisory only’ for a good reason by your trusted civil servant ‘Sir Humphrey’.  He or the powers that be, gave you a way out of this madness that is Brexit and an opportunity for Britain to continue to play a role on the world stage from within a strong EU partnership.

Posted in #brexit, EU, EURO | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Fuck yes, I’m with the elite. You’ve got a problem with that?


Hello there, angry kippers and associated anti-globalist armchair free traders. So you think that an establishment kick in the teeth by voting Brexit was clever? Leaving EU an answer to your and this nation’s problems?

In a recent secret meeting of about a million like minded expats I have been appointed as a spokesperson for leftist libtard traitors who have ‘deserted’ the United Kingdom and hence, so you think,  have no business interfering with the destruction you are causing over there back in old Blighty. It’s a thankless rotten task, but someone has to do it. Someone has got to point out to you that no, you haven’t been ignored, exploited or lied to by the media. You’ve not been taken for granted by the Westminster elite and left behind compared to people living in greater London. It’s all your own bloody fault that you were led by the nose by a bunch of EU hating foreign press barons.

You are the authors of your own petty existence. If you’ve got complaints, why not look closer to home? Stop blaming everyone else! Want to change things? Get off your lazy arses! Because we the elite, are sick and tired of hearing: “We are unhappy and you have to do something about that”. Do something about it yourself! So you left school early to have that ‘Pound in your pocket’ and now you regret it? Try night school or Open University. Don’t blame the bad decisions you made in life on us. Don’t blame it on low skilled immigrants that you find yourself competing with over low skilled poor paying jobs.

What follows are just a few suggestions. Yes, if that makes me arrogant and patronising – I know that’s why we lost the referendum – so be it. But don’t you think it’s rather puerile that you have to put us down to make yourself feel better about your miserable existence? You just love it don’t you, if you can paint us in some liberal leftist corner, all the while hoping that we will talk down at you expressing solidarity with your miserable existence? We’re having none of it! You are not poor, downtrodden, nor born with few opportunities in life. If you were, of course we would look after you in our caring and inclusive welfare state. That’s why us lefties created the NHS in the first place and claim to favour Comprehensive over Grammar schools. We have given you a fair chance in life but you didn’t take it. C’est tout!

Just stop it! Stop your underdog serf mentality and stop moaning you haven’t had a real pay rise for 10 years. Stop complaining that the top 5% of the country appropriates all the growth in wealth this country has generated while you were bled  dry in  your miserable existence. Just because you were too stupid to grab some of it for yourself. We despise you and look down on you. Is that a surprise? Did that hurt? What did you expect? If like you say you’re sick of political correctness, that works both ways. Two can play that game! This is the new deal: You point your finger at us, and we hold a mirror up to you! Oh, now you would much rather have ‘a civilised debate’ like in the good old days? With facts? Too late mate! We can give as good as we take and so should you! If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

The main stream media are all run by lefties? Too right! Especially the BBC! Lefties with at least half a brain! Most a lot more clever than you! It used to be that there were also quality newspapers that were ‘conservative’. Thats right! Right wing papers! But you were too busy watching ‘Strictly’ and the X-factor and cancelled your subscriptions. You now think you can get all your information from your dodgy FaceBook Friends, although you have no idea if what you are retweeting is the truth or a bloody lie. You see, on the internet nobody gets paid to check facts. It’s all about clicks and mass exposure. You read it because it makes you feel good in your bigoted filter bubble. Because you get lots of ‘likes’ when you retweet yet another Express or Daily Fail story about EU gravy train pay rises and immigrants after your jobs and clogging up our NHS. By all means, write to BBC Watchdog with your complaints. After all you are paying your license fee like the rest of us. But don’t expect the Guardian or the Independent or the Economist to lower their standards to your base level of understanding, because it’s our subscriptions that keep them going. If you don’t like the truth they publish, there’s always Brietfart. Hey even Trump likes them, so you’re in good company.

Oh yes and those High Court and Supreme court judges obstructing ‘The will of the people’. What do they know about the law eh? Why don’t you march in your hundreds of thousands to the highest court in the land and show them who’s boss? Oh you couldn’t be bothered? You might have even been admitted to the public gallery and maybe shout obscenities to that Millar woman you hate so much.She’s a forinner aint she? But don’t be surprised if you land in jail for contempt of court if you do that. You see in our democracy, we have something called ‘separation of powers’. That means we have Government who proposes laws, Parliament who enacts them (by a Majority of MPs voting for them) and then we have an independent judiciary who makes sure all those laws are properly applied as intended. We’ve had this system for a few centuries now and we don’t think it’s a good idea to lay them by the wayside just because it’s slightly delaying your rushed Brexit intentions. Don’t like it? try to get ukip a few more seats at the next General Election. Maybe they can bring back hanging at the same time?


You are telling me a majority of the country voted for Brexit? Err.. No!   A very slender majority of the electorate that could be bothered to get out of bed voted in an ‘advisory’ Tory opinion poll. Not Binding for a reason! A lot of pensioners voted brexit only to donate money – 350 m. – to the NHS. Many are dead now. Many more pro-EU youngsters can vote now. Even some of us expats that couldn’t in June! Mind you most of you didn’t have a clue what you were voting for. That’s why Google reported in the days just after the referendum “EU” was the most searched for term. You just wanted to teach the Westminster elite a lesson. I get that. But you’re not speaking for a majority of the country. Let’s move to a different subject.

Let’s talk about your fragile British Identity. Of course you are a racist. To an extend we all are racist (unless you are really colour blind I guess). But face it. Us liberals don’t  pose for pictures in front of a desperate ‘swarm’ of refugees, migrants that are clearly from outside of Europe. Look at the brown faces on Nigel’s poster! Yet the people you claim to admire protest against hard working East Europeans that more than likely traveled here by bus waving EU passports. Get it? Fellow EU citizens that come here to pick our vegetables  and wipe the arses of our ailing (grand)parents in nursing homes. At least us libtards are honest enough to admit our son playing on his X-box upstairs will never pick cabbages in Norfolk.

So you protest that you want a fairer points based immigration system with more control? You really think we fall for one minute for that claptrap of giving our Commonwealth brethren from the Indian sub continent a fairer chance to compete in our job market for low paid low skilled jobs? Hello! Most of those East European farm labourers are saving up to build their dream house back in Hungary, Poland or wherever. Free movement in EU is a two way street. It allows both them and us Brits to retire to a place in the sun. EU workers are not stupid enough to buy an overpriced undersized house like the one you live in. They rent mainly, even share rooms and beds. They save! They are a godsent for our economy! Without them we’d have lethargic growth like they do on the continent. If we are going to control our borders, why not control them where it counts, where Europe’s Schengen borders  border Eurasia. Let’s patrol the mediterranean for people smugglers.Good exercise for Royal Navy! Let’s not fuck up the seamless border between Northern Ireland and and the Republic of Ireland and break the Good Friday agreement in the process. Let’s not make the M20 another lorry park. On the days the French don’t strike anyway!
So annoying when you are on a Calais booze and fag run.


Why was this brexit vote necessary anyway? Wasn’t this whole European project and the Euro soon failing anyway? We’ve all heard that from the few pseudo intellectuals that you follow so many times, that we are getting tired of it. First it was Greece that would  surely spell the end of the Euro, then it was the Italian Referendum that had fuck all to do with the EU or the Europe. But it would send the dominos tumbling anyway, because the Italians have banks with funny names! The fact that the last thing poor old Greece wanted to do is go back to the Drachma should have been a clue for you! It’s not a humble little coin that causes youth unemployment in Spain. It’s corrupt politicians taking out loans they can’t possibly hope to pay back. That’s all. We have them, the USA has them, the whole world has them! Get over it. It’s the same bankers that caused the global financial meltdown in 2008. Nothing to do with Europe, EU or Euro however much you keep bleating on about it.


Now let’s talk about how Britain is this great ex-colonial trading nation, but Belgium exports 10 times more to ‘our’ India than we in UK do. Listen up folk! To trade successfully in this global world you’ve got to have stuff to trade. Importing flat screen TVs and iPads from China and exporting mainly containers full of household rubbish (wiring Pound Sterling to make up the shortfall) is not ‘free trade’ ! We don’t mine gold and silver either in this country, so reclassifying the sale of precious metals as “export of Goods” instead of “selling the UK family silver” is yet another Conservative con! Note, not an EU directive! EU has a positive trade balance with the rest of the world believe it or not! Not every country is shite at trading! It goes without saying that eventually all these Sterling denominated IOUs in foreign banks eventually wing their way back to a UK, which is now largely ‘foreign owned’.  Politicians may very cleverly hail this sort of thing as “booming foreign direct investment” in our country, but you and I know this is a just another fudge from Osborne and Co. same as their stories about reducing the UK’s 1.7 trillion national debt. Doubling it in fact from Gordon Brown’s days! Brexit Brits just don’t realise who is screwing them, so EU is the easy scapegoat. We are being sold down the river. Not by ‘Bwussels’ but by our own upper class twits that pass themselves off as statesmen and entrepreneurs. Rees-Mogg comes to mind suddenly. Didn’t he say baby formula milk doesn’t need regulation?  Think about it for fuck sake! Why do you think Chinese shoppers strip our supermarket shelves of the stuff to send back home?

Do something! Do something is not the same as vote clueless UKIP. Don’t walk away from it all and expect us elites to make it alright again. Do something is not “Shoot yourself in the foot with a hard Brexit”


Joining the ‘Save the pound’ bandwagon was your first mistake in 1999. Look where that got us. It killed off most of our manufacturing base competing in world markets with an overpriced currency. This while Germany makes Euro hay while the EU sun shines exchanging an expensive Deutschmark for a conveniently undervalued Euro. Stop rubbing your hands with glee when the Euro tumbles. It makes no sense! Stop quoting that twat Professor Minford at me. He wants to kill UK manufacturing!

Note this Euro ‘opt-out’ was a deliberate ploy by your conservative elite, while us lefties from the liberal elite were trying to protect you by trying to get us in. You sided with the Tories over a stupid slogan ‘Save our Pound’ and now you are doing it again with this idiotic ‘Take back control’. Small nation states have no control in this globalised world. Stop dreaming of Empire!

Let’s be brutally honest. Some good came out of not joining the Euro. At least it did  for the City of London and we were somewhat successful in Britain transforming our economy into the ‘Services sector’. We could have even done that job successfully for the rest of Europe, who don’t know the meaning of the word services and conveniently all speak our language as a second language. Good enough for our call centers anyway. Instead it was only the City of London that saw their EU chance and now thrives selling Euro futures and derivatives, whatever that means.Then came brexit. The big financial institutions are now busy planning their move to Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. The ‘service’ jobs that we are left with come with the phrase “Would you like Chips with that?” No wonder McDonald’s moving their European HQ to London is the only positive Brexit news @afneil and the Express can come up with. That and credit card sales up. Great closing down sales!


Look I can go on and on about this and trust me, when it comes to economic arguments you will never win. Yes there are a few Brexit economic Kung Fu fighters that spend more time hunting for what passes as positive economic brexit news and can score a few cheap points now and then. The point is they are in the main barking up the wrong tree. Like the revered Dr North of Flexcit fame. They talk about all these golden opportunities and Jam tomorrow. If only we first leave the biggest market we so neglected on our very doorstep! What you want is bread today, even if it’s thinly spread.  Those opportunities they talk about? Trust me they won’t do you any good. If you want to fight globalisation, let’s join together and be a global force in the EU, by joining our forces with culturally like minded!  Let’s join together for worker’s rights and consumer protection in EU. Let’s not drop our standards as that twat Rees-Mogg suggested this week but let’s try a make the best of a far from perfect EU, rather than aiding and abetting the likes of fascists like Farage, Wilders and Le pen. Don’t be a knobhead and hanker back to the days when Europe’s nation states fought each other on battlefields rather than in the European institutions.

GA IETS DOEN. ( Get of your lazy arse and do something before it’s too late!)

This is a very free translated Anglicised version of a Dutch blog post by Christian Jongeneel  I absolutely loved. Halfway through the translation I strayed off the original text as I realises some concepts like “Zwarte Piet” would mean absolutely nothing in a UK context. Sorry for that Christian 😉

Posted in #brexit, EU, EURO | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Brexit and Trump inverted snobbery

The month of November added a Trump victory insult to my still open brexit injury from June. It also saw a manifestation of what I can only describe as some kind of inverted intellectual snobbery on the part of some pundits, to try and produce some moral or intellectual justification of what has just happened in our democracies here and across the pond. It would seem you have to somehow sympathise with these economic self-harmers to be really, really sophisticated.

I hope you know the kind I mean: “Not all Trump brexit voters are racist”. “Trump/ brexit was a popular revolt of the people against the elites and included many intellectuals and middle class folk”.  “The man in the street is sick to death of globalism and its Westminster Washington political lackeys. What just happened is the populus sincere form of protest'”.

A good example of this intellectual snobbery was recently provided by magazine “The Rolling Stone“. I guess editors of such magazines cannot afford to alienate 50% of their potential readership. The broad narrative of the article seems to be that if you “resent” the outcome of a populist referendum, then you probably have not much respect for democracy in the first place. This seems to include respect for the right of “Low-information” voters to shoot themselves in the foot. It’s a total false dichotomy. People have followed ‘leaders’ from the dawn of time. In democracies we follow elected leaders. In the absence of inspiring truly ‘great’ leaders in troubling hard times, the vacuum is easily filled by demagogues like Farage and Trump. Imagine what could have happened in South Africa if Mandela hadn’t been on the scene, but some sort of Trump or Farage was?

Now take the case of the Labour opposition in the UK.  When interviewed, people like Corbyn and McDonnell often start their answers to questions about brexit with the prelude “Of course we must respect the outcome of the referendum, but….”


Excuse the expletive, but FFS why, as the government opposition, do you have to respect an advisory non binding popular vote, only held to paper over fractures in your main Tory opposition party? Especially as the brexit vote won with the narrowest of margins and with an increasing number of Leave voters today having second thoughts? ‘Carpe diem’, is what I’d say! The ball is there in front of a wide open political goal. Why are only Liberal Democrats willing to take the penalty?

Still, going back on the trump brexit manifestation, the troubling fact remains: Why are people so easily led by the nose. Why do they swallow the lies blazoned on red vote.leave busses? Why do we now live in a ‘post truth’ society?

Only one punter, god bless him, for me has come up with an answer that is not patronising and yet seems to come closer to the truth than anyone in the previously described inverted brexit snobbery brigade.

Tobias Rose-Stockwell has penned an analysis on medium.com that avoids the ‘poor education-poor prospects in life’ beaten track and looks for answers in our society’s increasing reliance on social media to filter our news sources. Yes, you read it correctly, FaceBook has a lot to answer for! I really recommend you read the article in full, but I reproduce one key featured illustration that shows what might be going on in our post truth society.


From “How We Broke Democracy” by Tobias Rose

So now for the first time, I have a satisfactory explanation, why I only see economic doom as a consequence of the brexit and trum votes, where others see this bright future of untold opportunities ahead. In your social media brexit bubble perhaps, but not in the real world.

Tobias kindly suggests an anti-dote against all this facebook  brainwashing. I end with a block quote from him, very wise and much appreciated:

Ways to increase your political empathy online

  • Expose yourself to alternative opinions — Read the other side: Your news sources likely have their own bias baked right in. There is no better way of unpacking your own beliefs than exposing yourself to the news sites that disagree with you.
  • Examine the source of news for bias and factual inaccuracy before you share it — Cultivate a healthy skepticism when you see an exciting headline that comes from a website you haven’t heard of. Many of these posts are designed to appeal to hyper-partisanship in order to get you to share them.
  • Engage with people who are different from you when you can — Don’t delete the friends on Facebook that disagree with you (Trolls excepted). You will not ‘pollute’ your worldview by talking to them and trying to understand their perspective. Expend the extra effort to go through a civil discourse, build common ground and avoid a shouting match.

Posted in #brexit, Trump | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cheaper food AFTER EU exit: The next £350 million brexit lie?

cheap-food-expressThere are so many things wrong with this Express article and misquoted IEA article, I decided to write a special debunking blog post about it. How Express readers in one line can be told that wages of UK farm workers will go up and in the next food prices will go down is anyone’s guess. So we must start banning seasonal EU workers picking UK crops after Brexit, while in another line this paper promises this golden future for UK farmers. Are they to pick these crops themselves after brexit or let them rot in the fields? UK farmers now facing competition and  reduced farm gate prices set by mega farms on different continents like New Zealand, Africa  and the Americas? How could UK dairy farmers possibly compete with mega dairies with tens of thousands of cows milked by robots in New Zealand? We haven’t even mentioned the 20% lower purchasing power of the pound, which pushes up the retail price of the 40% of our  food we have to import from abroad or we would starve.

The best way to tackle this deceit is probably to analyse and rebuke each nonsense Express statement line by line using block quotes:

“BREAKING free of the EU offers an “unrivalled opportunity” to halt “staggering” food price rises, a detailed paper revealed today.”

Well of course neither the words “unrivalled opportunity” or “staggering” appear in the 44 page actual IEA report.  Express lazy hacks pick that up from an accompanying press release where some of the Institute’s high brows talk up a newly published report, that they probable haven’t even read beyond the management summary themselves. Note that the actual report itself in a nutshell says that by using EU banned pesticides in combination with genetically modified crops UK farmers could increase yields. This is of course a mute point if UK consumers refuse to put that kind of toxic crap on UK tables.

“The IEA study by former NFU chief economist and Government adviser Sean Rickard described the Common Agricultural policy as the EU’s most expensive at £360 billion between 2015 and 2020.”

Of course this has nothing to do with food prices. The bulk of this EU money goes straight in the pockets of farming UK land owners. This in turn allows them to balance their books. Except if you are a part of UK’s aristocracy, then it goes straight on your bottom line. Many small to medium farmers simply would not survive without this single farm subsidy, meaning they’d go out of business and we’d have to import a larger proportion of the food we all consume from abroad. This in turn would negatively impact on our balance of payment deficit and food security. Remember it’s not farmers that set farm gate prices, supermarkets do! They pay more for bottled tap water than milk in some cases. 

“He put the cost of complying with EU regulations at £590 million a year in England alone – and stressed that this “significantly underestimates” the true cost of regulations.”

Again this would only impact on food prices if a Brexit UK would abandon all farming and food related regulation altogether after #brexit. Given Westminster’s propensity to gold plate any regulation that comes out of Brussels, there is more chance that UK Farming regulation would be more severe rather than more lax after #brexit. Another non-argument in other words. This argument also misses the point that much of this regulation nowadays comes from supra national bodies way above EU level like UNECE. It’s a totally false bonkers argument. Do we really think UK farmers should be able to spray on their crops whatever they like after Brexit? And we would all just swallow it? I think not!”

In a London speech Mr Clegg, now the Lib Dem EU spokesman, claimed that if the UK quit the EU single market in a “hard Brexit” there would be “turmoil” in the food and drink industry. He predicted a 59 per cent levy on beef, 38 per cent on chocolate, 40 per cent on New Zealand lamb and 14 per cent on Chilean wine.”

Note that without warning the Express article has now switched from food imports into the UK to food exports from the UK to the EU.  What Clegg says is correct only in the context of exports to the EU. Such tariffs would not influence prices for UK consumers of Scottish Angus steak, Welsh lamb or McVitties Hobnobs. The Clegg statement is there only to confuse and mislead Express readers. Suggests to them beef would be 59 per dearer, 38 per cent on chocolate, 40 per cent on New Zealand lamb and 14 per cent on Chilean wine. After brexit this would be true if we re-exported such stuff to the EU mainland. After Brexit UK could decide to scrap these EU tariffs. But this ignores the ironic fact that for instance New Zealand currently has a large tariff free export quota to the EU which it hasn’t fulfilled in years! Also it appears Chile has an FTA with EU. No EU tariffs on its wine! This had even Dan Hannan fooled! I have blogged about this previously here.

“Brexit can and will lead to lower food prices.
“This will be especially beneficial to people on lower incomes who have to spend a proportionately larger amount of their income on food – despite what the elite London-based politicians would like them to think.“Once again, Brexit will be a victory for working people over the establishment.”

This is of course the biggest bullshit story of the entire brexit campaign. We all know that Britain, as a densely populated island nation, imports at least 40% of the food it consumes. This foreign food has to be paid for with a currency that has been devalued by some 20% since Brexit.  That means, once their currency hedges have been exhausted,  importers have to pass these costs on to supermarkets and supermarkets pass them in turn on to consumers. Note that these higher prices take a few months to trickle through as supermarkets and suppliers try to dampen the shock. We have seen the first signs of this effect with marmitegate.

“Migration Watch cited a report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board which said that following restrictions on migration “wages are likely to increase in an attempt to make jobs more attractive to UK nationals”. Working conditions should also be improved. Migration Watch said that these rising wages could in turn encourage investment in mechanisation which would increase efficiency.”

OK what are they really saying here? Note that this has nothing to do with the IEA report anymore. Just a chance to throw some anti immigration sentiments in the daily poisonous Express propaganda mix. “Working conditions should improved”, not “will be improved”! Here we have pure conjecture by a dodgy pressure group. I would argue when cheap seasonal labour is withheld from UK agro-businesses they could:

  • a) Let crops rot in the field
  • b) Bribe unemployed Brits with higher wages to take the place of thousands of East-Europeans, which would lead to higher shop prices, not lower if they can find them?
  • or c) Invest hundreds of thousand in mechanisation, which would mean fewer employment opportunities in the agricultural sector

What it would not achieve is lower prices of fresh fruit and veg in UK shops, that’s clear!

NFU Director of Policy Andrew Clark “Regulation based on emotion and sentiment rather than evidence has been something that farmers have been wrangling with for many years.

“It’s the reason why the NFU’s role in highlighting the impact of Brussels and Westminster regulation on farm has been so important.

“Brexit has many unknowns attached to it in terms of regulation, and a lot of it will depend on the trade deals that UK Government negotiates.

“The EU single market is the UK’s biggest trading partner, and we are calling for access to this unfettered by tariffs and non-tariff barriers. What this access will mean in terms of regulation is undecided. And so any impact on food prices is anyone’s guess.”

All I have to do is point out the NFU conclusion, which goes totally against the Express headline: “any impact on food prices is anyone’s guess.” I rest my case. Nothing in this Express article is what it seems or purports to be. The report quoted is mainly about food standards, animal welfare, the environment, use of pesticides and GM crops. What is said about the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a best a side show, an exposé how it once was. It ignores how much it has improved. It sidesteps the issue that the alternative of EU regulation is not ‘no-regulation’. UK consumers are possibly even more sophisticated than many in the other 27EU countries.  The idea that we would abolish all these EU regulations completely is grotesque. There is a higher chance that Westminster would egg them on and gold plate them.

As one twitter friend commented:






Posted in #brexit, #CAP, EU | Tagged , | 2 Comments