I’ve more to say about the wording on that bus later.
The other day, wondering how England will manage to prosper in a new relationship with its Treaty partner without subsidy from Scotland, I came across a speech made by the disreputable Tory politician Liam Fox.
I say disreputable on account of his past behaviour as an ambassador of the British government, a serious error of judgement that hasn’t stopped the purblind Theresa Mays elevating him to Cabinet office as International Trade Secretary.
Fox was talking about the World Trade Organisation – WTO. His speech had little to say, meant only as a sop to those anxious about what will happen to commercial companies when Brexit hits them. This specific line caught my attention.
“The UK is a full and founding member of the WTO. [When we leave the EU] there will be no vacuum.”
Happy, clappy Dyson
Fearing my ‘nationalist-bent’ mind might morph that into, “Trust me. I’m a Tory politician who will benefit personally by making money out of arms deals”, I wrote it down for accuracy. The habit of searching for the humorous side had Dyson appear out of his Chinese factory in imagination, “No vacuum? But I wanted out of EU to sell loads more of the over-priced things!” (Dyson was an arch proponent of junking the EU. He lost his case at the European Court in the Hague against adding labels to his products to show energy efficiency falls once used. This disagreement united Dyson with Ukip.)
The rest of Fox’s speech is waffle fit only for a demented unionist’s blog.
As I understand it, what Fox is saying is, once out of Europe the United Kingdom, meaning England, will honour its obligations to international trading agreements.
That begs the question: does Fox know what he’s talking about? Ninety-nine per cent waffle indicates he doesn’t.
By her remarks and indifference May makes clear Scotland is guaranteed to get treated as a supernumerary to the entire accomplishment of leaving the EU, ergo, England will fight its corner and no other but call it ‘for the good of the whole United Kingdom’, as if the United Kingdom is still united.
The critical goal for May and her motley crew is, they must have all alternative trade avenues in place before the end of the Article 50 process.
Rules? What rules?
Fox is ignorant of the rules of trading. By a ‘no vacuum’ he’s suggesting the UK has tariffs and schedules already in place separate from those we currently share with the EU. As a filmmaker fruitlessly frittering chunks of my life away communicating between nations to raise finance, I can state categorically we don’t have a system separate from the EU. The EU system is our entire department store of choices.
Fox has uttered two falsehoods, that we have a system we can switch to in its entirety, and that there will be no legal vacuum. Not a good start for a cabinet minister, even one as blatantly unreliable as Fox.
It’s true, the UK is a founding member of the WTO. I’ll give him that, a fact he probably stumbled upon by accident. Some of my Remain colleagues who are film financiers point out the obvious that founding an organisation is not the same as being a full member of it.
For the uninformed
The UK used to belong to GATT – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO’s predecessor until the WTO came along. Schedules are descriptions of a country’s tariff and subsidy arrangements with other countries. Most of them are hostile to my non-arithmetic, speak plain English brain, but what they do is set an agreed rate on specific items in a specific country, a varied or set rate – such as ten per cent on cars.
That is why European car manufacturers here and our few indigenous ones are screaming blue murder. To know tariffs is to be in a position to price their cars and quantify export costs. Tariffs can vary: 10% on the first ten thousand sprockets, and only 5% thereafter, a method that avoids penalising a company selling lots of its products.
The UK doesn’t have its own schedules.
We use EU schedules. We need to extract our schedules from the EU schedule, which is actually a highly complicated and gargantuan task. We can’t just delete EU schedules, as some Tories have boasted, and start again. That invites a nightmare of an operation. There are thousands to get through, and thousands more of quotas, each one hard pressed by their respective trade desperate to know what the new tariff is so they can keep trading.
Don’t do as the EU does, do as the EU does
The only quick route, the easiest solution, is to replicate the same tariffs we have with the EU. In which case, why the hell did we leave the EU to do our own thing?
All the crapology of wrestling control from Europe and placing it in the hands of caring, sharing England is so much hooey. The UK is forced to keep things as they were because that’s the only way to avoid a disastrous swap over.
And we can’t ask EU states severally to alter their rates to suit us. EU member states like what they have. Why should they alter them for dear old Blighty, the nation that has given them the finger?
We’re not taking back control.
We are about to get mired in a reorganisation certain to put small and big business, as well as careers and jobs on the line. (My one is US based. I argue for others here.)
Don’t forget the small matter of the EU already a functioning member of the WTO. We can’t just ‘do our own thing’ without the EU getting truly annoyed. And believe me the EU is in no mood to accommodate England’s desire to rekindle pride in old Empire ideals.
Middle England has thrown Europe into the clutches of the far Right and neo-fascists, while May presides over some of the most repugnant ideals I’ve heard in my lifetime outside General Franco’s rule. No wonder each days see a hardening of attitude by EU member states.
And that’s not all.
Where is our army of trade negotiators and accountants needed to process the gargantuan transfer? Where are the experts to open and close discussions with China over their cheap steel exports? Do we really think China will just nod sagely, bow, and say, okay, go ahead, block our steel, or add massive tariffs so we can’t sell it in the UK.
Where is our sooper-doper legal teams to compose the new contracts for thousands of tariffs and contracts? At the very least we have to be in a position to announce provisional tariffs, at the very least.
No matter how cocky is May and her cohorts, the very people they represent will be the ones to give them the first bruising, big business and corporations, banks and financial institutions. You can hear their grumbles already.
Meanwhile, Liam Fox continues to show how shallow and inexpert he is, and how xenophobic Middle England is in for a painful shock. For all their bellyaching they might remain where they were, but much poorer.
A list of betrayals
The English NHS isn’t getting an illusory £350 million.
The slogan on the bus mentions nothing of the money that flows back to the UK. If you look closely at the photograph above the two statements side-by-side imply £350 million will be channelled into the English NHS system. But that’s not what it says. The two statements are a non sequitur. Where on that bus does it state the NHS will get that amount? Was it composed too mislead? You can bet it was.
Moreover, it doesn’t make clear Scotland has its own NHS. How’s that for fooling some of the people some of the time?
Money might be spent on building a new Royal Yacht. (Are you still laughing at the back?)
The pound in your pocket is losing value.
Expats in sunny Spain and elsewhere might not get their pension delivered as usual. And they can look forward to paying for medical attention.
Gibraltar, as well as London, swathes of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, voted overwhelmingly to remain in Europe. Gibraltarians, Brits to a bulldog, and probably a Barbary ape too, are livid they have been abandoned by Westminster.
Theresa may refuses to say whether or not European leaders and economists are correct asserting whatever happens the UK must pay the EU a minimum of £18 billion Euros as a golden handshake. That’s your taxes, dear reader, the taxes Europhobes said they could protect and nurture. And there’s worse to come. The Bank of England forecasts greater inflation. Nothing but bad news that was supposed to be good news.
Well, dear Middle England, how do you like them apples?