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A bad Brexit January 28, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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From the moment of the referendum was passed this site argued that Brexit was going to happen, that any talk about otherwise on foot of the referendum was delusionary, not least given the Tories were driving it, and that likely whatever form taken would be reactionary. Well, reactionary it most certainly has been, but I’m not sure anyone quite saw how stupid matters would be. For example, at the weekend there was this from the Guardian:

British businesses that export to the continent are being encouraged by government trade advisers to set up separate companies inside the EU in order to get around extra charges, paperwork and taxes resulting from Brexit, the Observer can reveal. In an extraordinary twist to the Brexit saga, UK small businesses are being told by advisers working for the Department for International Trade (DIT) that the best way to circumvent border issues and VAT problems that have been piling up since 1 January is to register new firms within the EU single market, from where they can distribute their goods far more freely.

The heads of two UK businesses that have been beset by Brexit-related problems have told the Observer that, following advice from experts at the Department for International Trade, they have already decided to register new companies in the EU in the next few weeks, and they knew of many others in similar positions. Other companies have also said they too were advised by government officials to register operations in the EU but had not yet made decisions.

And if those examples of taking back control don’t suffice there’s this from Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer:

The bill for Mr Johnson’s Brexit is coming in and that bill is a punishingly steep one. It is being paid by the fishing fleets in Scotland and the West Country that are tied up because they are unable to export their catch. It is being paid in a slump in activity at Welsh ports because the trade they used to handle is being diverted to France and Spain. It is being paid in billions of pounds worth of transactions disappearing from the City of London, which may not be much loved by all that many Britons but employs a million people, because the deal was so threadbare for the financial sector. It is being paid in car manufacturers shutting down some production because they can’t get parts across borders in time. It is being paid in tonnes of British meat exports rotting at European harbours. It is being paid by many UK businesses, especially the kind of smaller, exporting enterprises that the Tories always profess to love, which are being overwhelmed by the heavy burdens and high costs of the thin deal the prime minister rushed through parliament at the turn of the year.

Meanwhile in the SBP this weekend Brian Keegan of Chartered Accountants Ireland offered this insight:

The Brexit referendum result was partly viewed as an expression of a desire to curtail immigration, and you cannot have cross-border services without allowing people to move. If anything, the EU line on services is hardening as evidenced by the European Commission’s strategy for the European economic and financial system launched last week. The problems for cross-border trade in goods do not derive from what the Trade and Cooperation agreement contains but, rather, from what is missing from the agreement, such as the removal of customs paperwork. Customs compliance is proving to be more challenging than many businesses, even those who had geared up for it, had expected.

And:

Agri-food imports and exports are worst affected, because agricultural projects and foodstuffs require additional sanitary checks as well as customs inspection. The sanitary checking and customs checking systems are not integrated, thereby duplicating the virtual paperwork and increasing the scope for error.Things will be much worse in the coming months because trade volumes were artificially depressed by pre-December 31 stockpiling, and also because Britain is not implementing the full rigours of its customs regime until next June. These problems cannot be lobbied away.

What is most distinctly striking is how some of those who sincerely placed their hope in Brexit are being directly impacted very very negatively by the process – as with fishing fleets. Fed inflated and exaggerated tales by those who had no attachment to their welfare, they now face a dismal prospect.

But while the extremity of matters is a surprise, the broad thrust is not. As Rawnsley notes:

What Brexit has actually done is impose a vast amount of cumbersome and costly new bureaucracy on exporters and importers. British companies have been put in a chokehold of regulations, customs declarations, conformity assessments, health and rules-of-origin certifications, VAT demands and inflated shipping charges. While some ministers talk about reducing worker protections in the name of “cutting red tape”, a move for which there is little demand even from employers, Brexit is ensnaring British businesses in writhing snakes of the stuff.

Which suggests once more that Brexit was never a practical or thought-through process of disengagement from the European Union but rather something emotional and uncontrolled. It is not that there were not those who had actually thought about this in considerable detail. Richard North’s Flexcit was a sensible and considered effort to square some circles around the issue of that disengagement. But in the crucible of those emotions such a plan was always going to be sidelined.

And the disengagement now being seen – and Rawnsley is particularly good on noting how far from passing ‘teething troubles’ many of the worst aspects are going to persist because they are precisely what this form of Brexit demands, means that of course British companies are going to have to, as noted in the first quotes, find workarounds that in essence see them having to establish a very real presence in the EU.

Perhaps Keegan sums this up most succinctly: We are all having to change the way we trade with Britain, whether by learning and applying the customs rules, or by developing new supply chains and trading routes to get around the rules in the first place…The sooner we all make these changes, the better. Trade with Britain is not going to get any easier.

Comments»

1. sonofstan - January 28, 2021

I was at a interesting talk yesterday about ‘marketisation’ where it was pointed out that the price of ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ in health and education was a whole load of extra paperwork. Looks like the price of ‘freedom’ from Brussels will be the same…

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WorldbyStorm - January 28, 2021

That seems to be the case. As someone said, it’s the first trade ‘agreement’ which seeks to increase barriers between those involved.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 28, 2021

But they’re red-blue-and-white barriers. Happy barriers.

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WorldbyStorm - January 28, 2021

Insane isn’t it?

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2. Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 28, 2021

We ain’t seen nothing yet: there’s still a grace period of three to six months to run before the full implementation deadline for some new complexity.

Good to see the City of London being hammered though.

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3. banjoagbeanjoe - January 28, 2021

Wonder how long Johnson and the Tories can get away with using emotion to keep the British people in favour of Brexit? Probably forever.
Whatever bad stuff happens – empty shelves, freight transport industry a shambles, fishing fleets tied up etc etc – it’ll be all the fault of them pesky furriners.
And the Covid vaccine victory – because Britain is better than all those countries – will help.

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sonofstan - January 28, 2021

“the British people”

Some British people

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WorldbyStorm - January 28, 2021

If the German concerns re Astra Zeneca are robust that vaccine victory may not be quite as solid.

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banjoagbeanjoe - January 28, 2021

I thought that Astra Zeneca concern had been put to bed. But it actually doesn’t matter whether it has or not. Facts, logic doesn’t matter in all this. The only fact that matters to the Tories and their gullible supporters is that Britain is better than all those other countries. And anything bad or negative that happens as a result of Brexit (or as a result of pretty much anything) is down to those untrustworthy, nasty, inferior foreigners.

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sonofstan - January 28, 2021

At bottom though, there’s a lurking sense of unease that those nasty foreigners might be having a better time and be better at important things. English arrogance is often pretty threadbare when you poke at it.

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - January 28, 2021
Liberius - January 28, 2021

AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said in an interview with Italy’s la Repubblica newspaper Tuesday that “the issue with the elderly data is not so much whether it works or not. It’s that we have today a limited amount of data in the older population.”

Soriot said this was because the Oxford scientists running the vaccine trials did not want to recruit older people until they had “accumulated a lot of safety data” for those aged 18 to 55.

“Essentially, because Oxford started vaccinating older people later, we don’t have a huge number of older people who have been vaccinated. So that’s what the debate is,” he said. “But we have strong data showing very strong antibody production against the virus in the elderly, similar to what we see in younger people. It’s possible that some countries, out of caution, will use our vaccine for the younger group.”

From the link SoS provided, have to say that reads to me like they rushed the publication of the phase 3 results. Given that the UK government pushed the supposedly “world leading” Oxford vaccine I wonder whether they came under pressure to publish results after the BioNTech & Moderna vaccine results were published? Would fit with the cavalier approach the Tories have taken towards everything during this pandemic.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 28, 2021

I hope that the AZ vaccine proves to be very effective. It is easier to make and distribute than either of the mRNA vaccines.

The problem is that the trials were of poor quality. Some non-placebo participants were given half-doses and it was claimed that this was somehow more effective than a full dose. This should give you pause for thought. If not fraudulent it could be a statistical artifact from a low sample size.

And the testing on older people seems to have been inadequate. Thus the German authorities decision that there is just not enough evidence to say one way or another. More evidence may emerge from the UK, which is hogging most of the AZ vaccine, providing they start giving second doses within the specified time.

It’s all half-assed wing and a prayer stuff. Lets hope it works out. Johnson is conducting a live test on the population of the UK.

I suspect the UK medicines authority were leaned upon to accept trial data that wouldn’t normally pass muster. Which is a shame, because previously they’ve had a good reputation internationally.

Personally I have more confidence in the fact that the new Biontech plant in Marburg reckons that it can produce 250m doses in the first half of this year on top of the current production, which is limited. And the Sanofi plant is being re-engineered to produce Biontech vaccine.

But if I was offered AZ vaccine, I’d jump at the chance. I’d prefer a Moderna or Biontech vaccine, but I’ll take 80% plus protection at this stage. Hell, I’d take 50% plus like the flu vaccine.

The Jansen vaccine apparently is also reporting good results.

Liked by 1 person

Liberius - January 29, 2021

I hope that the AZ vaccine proves to be very effective. It is easier to make and distribute than either of the mRNA vaccines.

Just on the I’ve looking at CureVac’s website to see about their mRNA vaccine, they claim it is stable for at least three months at 5 degrees so they might well be a further option beyond the adenovirus based vaccines like AZ & Janssen for easier distribution later in the year.

CVnCoV remains stable and within defined specifications for at least three months when stored at a standard refrigerator temperature of +5°C (+41°F) and for up to 24 hours as ready-to-use vaccine when stored at room temperature.

CureVac is expecting interim analysis of the pivotal trial to be carried out within the first quarter of 2021.

https://www.curevac.com/en/covid-19/#clinical-studies

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Liberius - January 29, 2021

I should have also said that the EU has an order in for 225m doses of the CureVac vaccine with an option for another 180m.

On 19 November, the European Commission approved a fifth contract with the pharmaceutical company CureVac. The contract provides for the initial purchase of 225 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 180 million doses, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19.

The EU Commission’s vaccine strategy site is well worth looking at to understand the what has and hasn’t been ordered. So that Novavax vaccine that reported today, it’s looks like the talks began in December.

Novavax

On 17 December 2020, the Commission concluded exploratory talks with the pharmaceutical company Novavax, with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against COVID-19. The Novavax vaccine is a protein subunit product already in phase 3 clinical trial stage. The envisaged contract would provide for the possibility of all EU Member States to initially purchase 100 million doses, followed up by 100 million additional ones.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/public-health/coronavirus-vaccines-strategy_en

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benmadigan - January 28, 2021

online shopping is also taking a hit with extra VAT, delivery charges and difficulties making it impossible for small UK companies to continue selling to clients in the EU.
For the same reasons, EU customers are also sourcing goods online from elsewhere to the UK

Liked by 1 person

4. Paul Culloty - January 28, 2021

Contingency plans for queuing at Holyhead are being scaled back because freight hasn’t returned yet:

https://nation.cymru/news/welsh-government-concern-over-very-low-freight-traffic-at-holyhead/

Liked by 1 person

5. Paul Culloty - January 28, 2021
6. Pangurbán - January 29, 2021

The whining from the road transport industry is a due to the fact that much of the Irish industry is a cottage industry. A lot of units are now unaccompanied , they are towed on and the driver doesn’t accompany the unit. This means the ships can take more units. So Verona Murphy banging on about lack of preparation doesn’t mean much in the real worls

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WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2021

Interesting point Pangurbán. That would definitely have an impact.

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7. banjoagbeanjoe - January 29, 2021

I’ve been reflecting on my posts earlier in this thread and guess what… I’ve become a Brit hater.

Help! Help!

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2021

Ah they’re good people fundamentally, but they’re remarkably bad at selecting representatives left or right.

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sonofstan - January 29, 2021

Lions and donkeys. Not that we can talk.

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Pangurbán - January 29, 2021

Check out bbc Wales about fears for that future of the port of fishguard, where an initial drop of 75% in traffic was recorded compared to a mere 50% in Holyhead; it would appear that use of the landbridge has collapsed;

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