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It’s the way you tell ‘em

February 13, 2020 10:43 AM


An earlier article on this site covered the realities of checks on trade with Northern Ireland. Today we hear that the Prime Ministers jaunty acceptance that a decision to seek divergence from the rules of the EU means he would be happy with a trade deal like Australia has with the EU.

The problem here is that Australia doesn't have a trade deal with the EU , it trades with tariffs and quotas under WTO terms. In other worlds no deal seems now to be a preferred option despite assurances during the campaign that such an outcome was a million to one. Changing to discussion of an '"Australia deal" instead of a more controversial "no deal" doesn't change the realities for our businesses and the jobs they create

If that wasn't scary enough Michael Gove has conceded today that almost everybody trading with the EU will face some checks. Bizarrely the IT systems to facilitate this won't be available till 2025 ( given the Governments track record on delivering big IT projects I for one won't be betting my mortgage on that date being achieved!) and various trade bodies are also raising concerns that the border post infrastructure and resourcing may not be in place

In a funny sort of way since the EU has a big surplus on trade in goods it could be argued that these problems may impact them more than us other than in a few industries such as cars ( where many components are imported) and pharmaceuticals where we need EU safety testing.

Unfortunately Michel Barnier has said that a parallel long term deal on financial services whereby U.K. based firms have the right to trade across Europe as now was not on the table. This really matters to the U.K. the sector employs over one million people and is worth £120+ billion to the U.K. economy. At the European Parliament he warned Sajid Javid and Boris Johnson that "they should not kid themselves" that Brussels will give a special deal to the City of London after a photograph emerged of the UK's opening negotiating position on the new post-Brexit arrangements.

Now it has to be said this may all be posturing before negotiations get underway. However there seems to be a growing consistency from the Government that they want to put barriers in the way of the 50% of our trade that goes to Europe to ' get back control" whilst being pressured to accept US rules on Huawei , chlorinated chicken, GM crops and higher pharmaceutical costs

That maybe what people voted for in the referendum . I just don't recall that discussion at the time!