Trade Deals

Do you want to know what the British proposal is for handling customs after Brexit? Alright then here you go, it’s very simple really…..

If Britain imports something from outside the EU-27 and then that product is shipped into the EU-27 then the British government collects the EU tariff and pays it on to the EU once the goods have been exported onwards.

Say, for example, we import a Harley Davidson motorcycle valued at £10,000 into Britain and the EU has a 10% tariff then if that bike is then exported into an EU-27 country then we would pay the EU £1,000.

Let’s look at another example. Say we import 20 tons of beef from Argentina (at £1,000 per ton with a 10% EU tariff) and two tons are shipped into the EU-27 we would then pass on the tariff of £200 on the two tons.

See I told you it’d be easy.  Oh but wait…. what if we use ten tons of that beef as materials for making beef curry and then sell on that curry as a ready meal into the EU-27? We would have to calculate the proportion of the meal that matches the beef tariff from Argentina.

Oh and if we are importing vegetables in that meal from Asia then we’d have to look at the tariff on each ingredient and then calculate how much we owe the EU-27.

What about car parts? Say we export a car into the EU built by Nissan in Sunderland? Valued at £20,000 export price we’d have to identify the value of specific parts that came from the EU (with a tariff), identify what parts came from outside the EU (with different tariffs) and then when it’s exported into the EU deduct the tariffs on the parts from the EU and pass on the tariffs we collected on non-EU parts.

Getting more complicated now eh? Bear in mind that a car has 30,000 parts! We’d have to do this for all 4,500 plus product nomenclature (product groups) that we trade with the EU.  Bear in mind just one product group like steel plate has over 3,200 different grades of steel and you can begin to see the size of the complexity – and THIS my friends is the top suggestion that Theresa May is still trying to get all her Cabinet and party to agree on from the Body Bag Summit at Chequers, despite the fact that it’s already been ruled out by the EU as completely unrealistic and unworkable. And they’ve categorically stated that the EU will not allow a third country to collect tariffs and duty on its behalf. If there was a dispute then where would Britain as a third country go for resolution outside the EU?  The incompetence of this administration is simply astounding. It’s almost as if they don’t know what they are doing!

Chequers Accord

The Chequers Accord was dead before it was written and the cabinet should have known that after being told for two long years that it is illegal to cherry pick the four pillars/freedoms of the European Union (EU).

The very foundation of the four freedoms of the EU, freedom of movement of goods, capital, people and services are indivisible. If the EU decided that it was going to allow Britain to split these freedoms by permitting cherry picking for goods but not services then they would have to make these same allowances for fifty plus other countries too… because the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules state that you cannot provide a better deal for one nation that you do for others.

In order for the EU to accept the Chequers Accord they’d be in breach of their own international treaties. I suggest that this is a highly unlikely scenario as they’d likely have to start re-negotiating the Canada-EU deal and the Japan-EU deal amongst others.

Another key WTO rule is that if you want to trade favourably then a country must check, measure and control goods coming in and going out of the country. All members of the WTO have agreed this so that they can ensure the right tariffs and quota and quota are being applied.

However, the sovereign British parliament’s EU Withdrawal Act that recently received royal assent by Her Majesty the Queen specifically states in Section 10 that it would be illegal for a British government to do anything that creates new checks and controls on the border on the island of Ireland or damage the Good Friday Agreement. This means that if we crash out of the EU with no deal then we would be subject to the highest possible external tariff regime for every single country in the WTO.  And it would also be impossible for Britain to negotiate free trade deals to mitigate these extortionate tariffs. This would devastate British exporters. completely.

So where are we?  With six weeks of negotiations left before the conclusion of the Article 50 talks, the only proposal from the British government is to ask the EU to break its international treaties and agreements or we leave on the absolute worst possible terms for Britain. A situation you wouldn’t even consider in a nightmare. Or…. alternatively…. we could remain in the EU where we currently trade all around the world, make our own laws in Westminster while also heavily influencing the laws of the largest trade bloc on the planet, control our standards and quality, while also not bringing the country to a standstill. Did you know that between 1990 and 2016 the British economy grew by 68%? That’s faster than the G7! It’s already been damaged since the referendum to one of the worst on our continent.

It’s not too late. Stop Brexit and stop the damage – now before it’s too late.

Opinion & Analysis – ‘Brutopia’ – A Demonic Raabid Vision

By ‘Sam Vete’
The boundary of Esher and Walton reveals a peculiar ‘ménage à trois’ between Hampton Court and Thames Ditton; the historical figures Thomas More and Thomas Wolsey cohabit with Dominic Raab.
Thomas More wrote ‘Utopia’, criticising the politics of belligerent European nations while imagining an island nation fulfilling liberal political ideals. The English language and social thought were enriched. Wolsey and More collaborated to reject Lutheranism, putting all their eggs in Rome’s Catholic basket. They became devilled eggs when Henry VIII chose Anne Boleyn above religion.

David Starkey’s TV series erroneously portrays the Reformation as ‘Tudor brexit’ (peering penetratingly, troll-like, from behind a tree). Yes, Henry wanted to take control from Rome for selfish reasons. Similarly, hard-core brexiters want ‘Henry VIII powers’, passing laws ignoring EU liberalism. That does not parallel the historical events as Lutheranism spread throughout free-thinking states. Elizabeth I put things right in England!

Where do Raab’s demonic diatribes fit this religious triangle? His referendum sermons preached a fundamentalist belief in brexit; scorning basic economic theory and playground savvy – ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. A ‘Brutopia’ which ignores the detrimental implications of economic separatism and autocratic legislation, preferring cronyism to a fair, progressive broad church. Since brexit myths have been exposed as lies, many have changed their minds. Polls show Raab’s views are now seriously out of step with the UK majority. They have NEVER been in step with the pro-EU majority of his constituents. Brexit is not the dish-of-the-day, démodé!

Where else do Raab’s views clash with his constituents? In another modern religion – air travel. He ignores technological progress and the economic and ecological errors of building a Heathrow runway. Video conferencing replaces air travel. Businesses with an internet presence can make decisions quicker than ordering an airport taxi. Progress in flight technology means that runways can be shorter, lightweight carbon-fibre planes (powered by electricity rather than polluting kerosene) will carry more passengers, better booking systems will increase seat occupancy, and additional airport infrastructure will be a white elephant.
Similarly, Dominic Raab; his ‘Vim’ has been scrubbed out! Meanwhile, Theresa May is no Gloriana!

Brexit lobby in the Netherlands

Dual nationality

On April 21st, one of our councillor candidates, Francisca Oxley, was invited with two colleagues to present to a Dutch parliamentary committee about Brexit. This was a good opportunity to push for EU citizens rights after Brexit via a local EU27 government.

Francisca says: “There was very limited time to drive home some key points, so we decided to start our session with a video about dual nationality. We discussed why becoming British without losing Dutch nationality is so important now with Brexit. If you want to watch the video, you can see it here (2.5 minutes).

Brexit

Francisca Oxley, Hedwig Hegtermans and Nicole Wevers with the director consular affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan Willem Beaujean.

 Citizens Rights

The second part of the meeting was spent on explaining the difficulties with citizens’ rights (both for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU). The Windrush scandal (which has also been reported in the Dutch news) served to illustrate that there is no trust in the Home Office for good reason!

Francisca continues: “We mentioned groups that are in danger of falling through the cracks (think of housewives, carers, children turning adult during the Brexit process). Even though the home office promises to be generous and light touch, the Windrush scandal shows EU citizens need more than promises. We also discussed the fact that a five year limit on the right of return is not enough. It would make studying in Europe and then taking a first job abroad very difficult! We highlighted that EU citizens in Britain have mixed families. They could lose their Settled Status and have to try to get some sort of visa from scratch. This would reduce EU-UK families to Skype Families (as already is happening with non-EU people). We asked the Dutch government to not forget the citizens’ rights among the trade deals and other agreements.

We ended by asking for support for Dutch nationals returning to the Netherlands after Brexit. If you are interested or want to practise your Dutch you can read the position paper here (fifth paper down the end).

Opinion & Analysis – Targeting the ‘brexit bull’ in Elmbridge

By ‘Sam Vete’ – 12 March 2018
How does brexit affect Elmbridge? And how can Elmbridge voters help to avoid the potentially disastrous outcome of the devious brexit strategy?
Elmbridge is heavily Tory but, despite the glib rhetoric of brexit’s chief standard bearer, local MP Dominic Raab, we voted strongly to remain in the EU. Pro-EU Elmbridge residents realised that what was caricatured as ‘Project Fear’ was well-founded caution. The Government went ahead and fired the Article 50 bullet regardless of the predictable collateral damage.
Contrary to Eurosceptic pre-referendum boasts, because the brextremists’ are fixated with leaving the single market and the customs union, many businesses have already announced intentions to relocate and remain within the EU.
City jobs, particularly in the financial and scientific sectors, are at risk and the impact will be significant. Elmbridge will be one of the suburban commuting areas affected. There are also the city’s support occupations to consider; transport, administration, event management, and hospitality will suffer a knock-on effect, with Elmbridge based foot-soldiers caught in the cross-fire.
Many Elmbridge families rely on domestic support staff. EU immigrants will no longer be the source of qualified applicants. The rate of applications has already fallen.
Qualified dental, medical and care staff similarly are moving back to EU member states, increasing the strain on the NHS as well as the cost of private services. This affects the centres of excellence in Elmbridge and peripheral areas Guildford and Kingston-upon-Thames on which the Elmbridge community depends.
Travel practices will be rolled back decades. With the high living standards in Elmbridge, the once familiar short break to Bruges, Paris, Prague, Tenerife or Dublin etc. will be a distant memory. With unpredictable queuing times at customs and passport control, one BBC report expects queues of up to 29 miles on Chunnel access routes. What an incentive for a ‘staycation’ in a traffic queue on the M25!
Biting the bullet?
What can Elmbridge residents do to potentially affect the rake’s progress of brexit. Well, to all politicians, votes matter; local votes on May 3rd will translate into national trends.
Labour pro-EU voters can give their hard-brexiter leadership a much-needed close shave by voting for a pro-EU party.
Pro-EU Tory voters need to show their metal and demonstrate strong disapproval by voting for a pro-EU candidate. The Tory Eurosceptic grandees will downplay any local losses but behind the scenes they will be panicking.
Raab’s seat is one of the safest in the country and he is brexit’s ‘Golden Boy’. A significant local protest vote will force Tory HQ to take notice. Every anti-brexit vote will contribute to the fog-of-war surrounding the brexit folly. Every vote counts, so let yours help to deflect the ‘brexit bullet’!

Opinion & Analysis – Whatever happened to the Conservative party? by Anthony Sheppard

You used to know where you were with the Conservatives, even if you didn’t support them. They had cordial – some would say cosy – relations with the City, with the CBI, the Institute of Directors. There was a kind of assumption that what was good for business was good for the British economy and that prosperity would somehow trickle down to the rest of us. A lot of us had serious reservations about the social implications of this, but it made some kind of sense in an increasingly globalised capitalist economy.
But since the vote for Brexit, large sections of the Conservative Party seem determined to throw all this over, turning their back on the City of London, stonewalling the CBI’s pleas for certainty over immigration policy in respect of skill shortages and ignoring the anxieties of sectors like the car industry about how ‘Just in Time’ trans-European supply chains will work if Britain leaves the Single Market and/or Customs Union. Industry and commerce can, it seems, be sacrificed on the altar of Sovereignty: the vision of a sovereign Britain, untrammeled by foreign interference in our judicial processes, trade arrangements (except when it suits us to benefit from EU regulations) or immigration policy. This is a thoroughly 19th century view of the nation state, at odds with the highly connected world we all now inhabit.
And how is Britain to survive economically when deprived of the benefits of EU membership? We are promised innovative Free Trade agreements with the Premier League economies. The question needs to be asked, ‘Can Britain do better alone, negotiating with the likes of China and the USA, than a bloc of 28 European nations?’ What does Britain bring to the table on its own? If we are not in the EEA, what incentive will there be for inward investment in a Britain that is no longer an open gateway to Europe?
These New Conservatives would have us chasing the leprechauns’ gold! Continue reading

Sir Vince Cable talks to local Lib Dems

 

Christine Elmer, Lib Dem Councillor for Walton South and Chris Elmer, Lib Dem candidate for Walton South in May 2018

Vince Cable with Vicki Macleod,  candidate for Weybridge Lib Dems in Elmbridge council elections in May 2018.  

On 30th November Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, spoke to a packed village hall in Claygate. His message was clear, Brexit is a disaster, the government is in turmoil and divided, and three great problems are in the way of a successful ‘divorce’ of Britain from Europe.

Sir Vince Cable expressed much concern over how “the loss of European nurses and doctors in Kingston Hospital and other critical services impacts patient care negatively”. This is just one of the many consequences of Brexit.

Hospitality industries are beginning to suffer from lack of workforce, agriculture cannot get seasonal workers, universities are losing European students, research grants are being denied to our scientists and the list keeps growing.

According to Cable, it’s understandable why businesses in the City and beyond are preparing to relocate. Uncertainty caused by Brexit is bad for business as it makes future planning difficult and discourages much needed investment in skills and new enterprise. This feeds the downward cycle of low wages, low productivity, and poor economic performance.

Vince Cable spoke at the Liberal Exchange hosted by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and outlined the serious challenges Britain faces in “tortuously complex Brexit talks”. He also explained why the Liberal Democrats are advocating the people’s right to choose between staying in the EU on current terms or accepting the deal negotiated by the government. “This will be the first referendum based on facts, not on fiction and fraudulent promises”, Cable argued.

The keen audience kept Sir Vince on his feet for the best part of two hours with questions ranging from a variety of Brexit issues to the government’s ongoing austerity measures, funding of higher education, apprenticeships and further education plus more. Disappointingly for Cable the current Tory government is “destroying the successful apprenticeship scheme with the ill-advised new levy”. In this context Cable emphasised the need for ‘non-tribal’ thinking in solving the country’s problems, although sadly “tribalism is rife in British politics and hampers progress”.

Sir Vince talked about Brexit’s debilitating effect on many government departments. “Their work has ground to a halt due to lack of resource or political ‘bandwidth’. The whole country suffers as a result.” “Yet there is much work to be done quite apart from Brexit to eradicate the plight of social exclusion, generational divisions, regional inequality and re-empowering local government. This is the agenda for us Liberal Democrats,” Vince Cable concluded.

Jaska Alanko, Liberal Democrat with Sir Vince

Vince Cable with Barry Fairbank, Lib Dem Councillor for Long Ditton

Vince Cable on Brexit in Elmbridge 30th November

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable MP will be the speaker in Liberal Exchange at Claygate Village Hall, Church Street, Claygate KT10 0JP – on Thursday, 30th November at 7.30pm – and you and your friends are warmly welcome.
Sir Vince will put a strong economic and political case for remaining in the EU and argue why the final decision on whether we should remain a member in the EU on current terms or accept the ‘deal’ negotiated by Theresa May’s government, should be given to the people. He calls such a vote ‘the first referendum on facts’, because the 2016 referendum was based on falsehoods and fraudulent promises.
In December the European Union will confirm whether it is ready to move the Brexit negotiations to talks about trade. Sir Vince will explore the implications of this critical decision with the audience as well as evaluate the overall state of Britain’s negotiation approach and process.
Liberal Exchange is organised by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and it is an open public forum for discussions about current political priorities. All are welcome and invited to put their questions to the speaker.

Income inequality, whose word do you trust

Policy Exchange

Founded by Nick Boles, Michael Gove and Francis Maude. To get a feel for the enthusiasm of this merry camp of dreamers, you need only read Gove’s sadly-deleted and somewhat hyperbolic testimony on their website: “Policy Exchange were a tiny band of guerrillas, partisans in the hillside fighting a lonely campaign, but now, that tiny guerrilla band has turned into the most formidable regular army on the thinktank battlefield.”

If Reform is the Greg Dyke of right wing think tanks, Policy Exchange is undoubtedly the John Birt: “blue sky” doesn’t come close. Reform’s ideas might annoy everyone except those who don’t like big government, but Policy Exchange regularly sets the bar higher and manages to get on their wick too. If you want a good example, think of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, described by then “Head of Crime and Justice” Blair Gibbs as “the boldest reform to policing since the 1960s”.

Gibbs is a classic Tory think tank wonk: Oxford University Conservative Association, stints at Reform and the Taxpayers’ Alliance, MP’s researcher, Policy Exchange, and now he’s working for BoJo. An impressive CV which suggests a somewhat detached relationship with the practicalities of the field in which he’s an “expert”. He was on Twitter, but described himself as one of the “four horsemen” of police reform, and this provoked such a furious reaction he had to leave. Let’s face it, if you’re a copper who risks his life every time he goes to work and who’s about to be hit by Government cuts, that’s probably not the sort of thing you want to read from a twenty-something policymaker.

(Incidentally, this is a common complaint about think tanks – salaries tend to top out pretty early, which means their employees go and do something else (usually working as Spads). To quote Zoe Williams: “It is noticeable […] how often you’re told by a 28-year-old that care of patients with Alzheimer’s can be managed by text message and ‘parenting classes can improve community engagement and lead to local wellbeing’”.)

Anyway, the PCC plan has been hit by a number of setbacks. First, it’s never a good idea to hold an election when you don’t know who the candidates are or indeed what they’re standing for. Then you’ve got the Paris Brown affair and now this extraordinary freedom of speech horrorshow, which is a whole blog post in itself. One of the companies to fund Policy Exchange is Deloitte, which issued press releases saying PCCs must “get to grips with current policing operations” and “focus on reforming pay, pensions and paperwork, the financial management of their force, and cutting costs.” Hard to think which firm they could hire to achieve that.

They need us more than we need them – Yeah right

Apart from Britain, there are 27 states in the European Union.  Most of them have very little trade with us: we import only 2% of Croatian exports or 3% of Bulgarian exports.

These countries will have next to no downside in driving a very hard bargain indeed. Each of them have a veto on the final deal.  Every time you hear a commentator or a Brexiter talking about German industry or the Irish economy remember that they are only two votes out of 27.  Brexit is not even an issue in most countries of the union.  As far as they are concerned the British have lost touch with the real world.

No deal better than a bad deal?

This, of course, is obvious – if the definition “bad” is a deal that is so bad it is worse than no deal.  But for a deal to be worse than no deal it would have to be so cataclysmically bad that neither the British government or the European government would propose it.

Such a bad deal would have to be proposed by the Americans, Chinese or Russian governments who must be beside themselves with glee at the mess that a small group of extremists have managed to conjure up for the British people.