fredag 30 augusti 2019

Whom Brexit will really hit

The main impact of Brexit will be on people and businesses inside the EU. This has been scarcely remarked on in discussions in Britain. It is one reason why the dispute over the Irish border has been so confused and acrimonious; the Irish do not seem to appreciate what will hit them, not because of Brexit itself but because of the way the protectionist Single Market rules operate.

It would be nice to see some articles about what the governments of EU countries will be doing. Interviews on Swedish television explain how business will be put to expense and inconvenience, internet sales will be delayed in customs and purchasers from UK internet sites will have to pay double VAT, plus handling charges, plus delays in the inefficient postal service which cannot handle the traffic even now. Visitors returning from the UK will be harassed by customs. They will not even be allowed to bring cheddar cheese into the country. Here are a few links to these interviews which explain what is in store, and how the EU idiocy will cause problems for people in Sweden after Brexit. Thanks for nothing, Brussels.

Interview on SVT
How Brexit will affect returning tourists
Forthcoming cheddar cheese ban

Backstop boloney

In a rational world the alleged need for the backstop would have triggered an urgent review of the regulations governing the protectionist Single Market, which are the reason why there needs to be a customs border; the UK government has indicated that for its part, it has no objection to the free flow of goods inwards.

A substantial proportion of IMPORTS to the Republic come from the UK. If they are required to cross the EU's tariff barrier, it is consumers and manufacturers in the Republic who will be faced with the extra costs of the tariffs, or the expensive alternative of sourcing goods from mainland Europe, thereby incurring added transport costs.

Why this has been so rarely referred to is a mystery. I suspect the reason is the return to dominance of seventeenth century mercantilist thinking. Ireland will be in the same situation as countries on the eastern marches of the EU such as the Baltics, Romania and parts of Poland, which are cut off from their nearest suppliers and customers; it is an important reason why the economies of those countries has failed to develop and have been exporting their populations.

fredag 16 augusti 2019

Peterloo bicentenary - the irony of it

Today is the two-hundredth anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, when a peaceful meeting at St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, was violently dispersed by the military. Eighteen people were killed and over 600 injured. The meeting was set up to air people’s many and well justified grievances, most of which had their origin in the enclosures of agricultural land, a process which began in 1760 and resulted in the displacement of the English peasantry, who were deprived of their livelihoods and forced into city slums where their only means of supporting themselves was to work long hours in terrible conditions for penurious wages.

An important object of the protest was the Corn Laws, which was one of the objects of the St Peter’s Fields protest. The Corn Laws were a body of tariffs and other regulations intended to restrict the importing of cheap foreign wheat and other food, which put up the cost of the food on people’s tables. The massacre was followed by a cover-up. An important event in the wake of Peterloo was the founding of The Manchester Guardian, to continue the campaigning. The Corn Laws were finally abolished in 1846.

But victories for freedom are never more than provisional. The Corn Laws were reintroduced surreptitiously in 1973 when the UK joined the then EEC, since the Common Agricultural Policy operates in precisely the same way, and has the same aims and purpose, as the Corn Laws.

Here comes the irony. The Guardian, the lineal descendent of the Manchester Guardian, has taken a leading role in the campaign against leaving the EU, despite the evidence of forty years that the organisation is impervious to reform. Only yesterday, there was an article in the Guardian by Polly Toynbee, arguing that British farmers would be ruined without these latter day Corn Laws – exactly the same argument that was used to maintain the Corn Laws for a quarter of a century after Peterloo. I am alone is seeing this irony?

söndag 11 augusti 2019

Horrible Brexit coin

The government has announced plans for a commemorative Brexit coin, to be issued on the day. It will be a 50p coin with the inscription ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.’ What a pity that is the best the authorities can come up with.

It has a horrible script typeface (bog-standard Zapf Chancery by the look of it) and the horrible seven-sided shape which is overdue for change. A £2 coin would have been more suitable; the inscription could go round the edge and the image could have been a traditional one; perhaps the original Britannia as on the Victorian penny, with a ship and lighthouse, or the thrift from the old threepenny bit, or the ship from the halfpenny, or the wren that used to be on the farthing, or Pistrucci's classic St George and the Dragon. If this is the best the authorities can do, it does not augur well.

Brexit row over brand protection

As part of the acrimonious Brexit negotiations, there is a row over protected product names such as Melton Mowbray pies and whiskies general...