Last week a series of Technical Notices were released in a batch of twenty-five from the DExEU, just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend, purporting to set out what actions would need to be taken if there was a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Plans for government, but also, in large measure, what businesses and individuals should plan to do too. They will have made dispiriting Bank Holiday reading for many.
Their publication was prompted by the ever shriller shouts of hard right Brexiteers for some planning to be done for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Presumably because they thought their preferred option was being ignored. Very predictably, however, the publication of the TNs has been greeted with howls of disbelief – this is a return to Project Fear, they claim ( see Nothing to fear, but fear itself… ). This isn’t what’s going to happen, the civil servants who wrote this are remainer liars.
They had forgotten a major rule of demagoguery, planning is anathema ( see The Demagogue’s Dictionary, entry for ‘Plan’ ).
The Notices cover the following topics – applying for EU funded programmes (3), civil nuclear and nuclear research (2), farming (2), importing and exporting (4), labelling and product safety (3), money and tax (2), regulating medicines and medical equipment (4), state aid (1), studying in the UK (1) and workplace rights (1). My memory of Technical Notes (to which I have contributed in the past) is that they contained practical detail. The DExEU TNs are far less specific.
Nonetheless there are some highlights.
Bureaucracy rules! Lots more checking and licencing and applying for licences. No surprise, that’s what happens when you have borders. Any small or medium-sized business which trades with Europe now is going to get hammered if they wish to continue (and that’s just on the UK side of things). There will be tariffs on British exports. Large business will re-locate or absorb the extra cost and pass it on to the consumer. So, fewer jobs and higher prices. Yes, I know…… we know this.
The Common Agricultural Policy farming payments total (not individual payments) will be guaranteed by HMG until 2022 or the end of the Parliament. Thereafter, who knows? The National Union of Farmers web-site makes interesting reading ( as do its Domestic Agriculture Policy Reports ) – NFU officials talk about ‘armageddon’ if there is no deal. WTO rules anyone? “Trade-distorting agricultural subsidies are capped by WTO at 5% of the country’s total agricultural production. The EU negotiated a bespoke subsidy cap at the WTO that amounts to €72.4bn (Total Aggregate Measurement of Support). The NFU believes that the UK should be allocated a share of the EU’s commitments. If we are unable to do so, it will significantly restrict the type of domestic agricultural policy the UK can devise and implement post-Brexit.”*
The Financial Services passport disappears. So the financial services industry, which contributes massively to UK GDP, is severely hampered. On an individual level users living in the EU may find they cannot access their UK funds – this will impact on pensioners living in the EU who receive their pensions in the UK but access them from the EU or receive annuities from British insurance companies ( and many of these folk weren’t even allowed to vote see Disenfranchisement ).
Rational people knew much of this, but it is interesting that it is now being acknowledged by government.
But, in this world of alternative truth we have a competing set of briefings, by the Institute of Economic Affairs, that free market propaganda agency with charitable status ( see Grey Eminences ). These are claimed to ‘separate Project Fear from Project fact‘ . The three published so far, on aviation, mobile roaming charges and medicines, propose ways of mitigating disastrous impacts. They are really quite funny.
The first, on aviation, says all is not lost. If everything fails planes won’t fly, it acknowledges, but, by way of mitigation we can – stay in current agreements as a third country, thereby accepting the EU rules and governance, if the EU accepts this OR we can negotiate a separate FTA (but it won’t apply from March 29th, so planes won’t actually fly then).
But, do not be down-hearted! There are supposed reasons for optimism – GB is so good at this and is such a large market that the EU will have to allow us to do what we want anyway (the ostrich approach) – the EU is sensible and won’t cause chaos (the ‘it’s all their fault if the planes are flying’ argument) and – if it comes to it – the EU will cave in and give up all its fundamental principles in order to keep UK planes flying ( I despair ). Oh and airlines might “includ[e] ‘Brexit clauses’ to reassure customers that their money will be refunded in the unlikely event that planes are grounded“.
So that’s all right then.
Just by publishing these, however ridiculous they are, the IEA clouds the real issues and that’s the point of them ( see The Demagogue’s Handbook ). Another serious point here is that this is an organisation with charitable status, for purposes, supposedly, of education. Complain to it and to the Charities Commission. This isn’t education, it’s political propaganda.
*A New Outlook on International Trade – NFU Report