Category: Government Policy

Brexit For Our Time!

Knife to a Gunfight

Johnson has always fancied himself as a modern-day Churchill. The last-minute “deal” on Brexit was more reminiscent of Chamberlain. Another Sir, Sean Connery, once famously said, “never bring a knife to a gunfight”. In some respects, we didn’t even have a knife. Claims that the EU was “mean”, and didn’t deal in “good faith” fails to acknowledge that the EU’s first duty is to secure the best deal possible for the single market. The right thing for our government to have done was to have taken the same attitude towards our negotiating stance. Instead, we lept out of the bed completely naked, screaming divorce.

Another issue is the EU doesn’t trust us. They would have loved to keep us in the Union. They expressed this wish by handing us the best deal out of any members. Was it mean when we went to Brussels year after year complaining and asking for more? Or, was it looking after our interests? The EU saw it as dealing in bad faith. It seems they were excellent students.

What Deal Did We Get?

We don’t really know, is the truth. Much of what is to come has not been settled. We did get a deal for fisherman. In fact, that’s about all Boris could point to in his news conference. That and the laws we wouldn’t have to bow to. Unless we want to trade with the EU. He left that bit out.

Johnson’s promise to have a non-tariff border was a lie, much like the £350 million for the NHS. Those were his two big promises. Neither were true. Does anyone remember that? Other than fishermen, we did secure tariff-based trade for manufacturing. Those businesses are busy trying to conform to the new reality. Yes, I said tariff-based trade. The added paperwork and cost is substantial and may make many uncompetitive. We have already experienced the queues brought about by delays at the channel. Just in time supply chains are a thing of the past for now, and that will also have a negative impact on British manufacturers.

The government brings up fish a lot. Even that wasn’t an overall success. In five years we may well be back to fish wars. Remember those? A return to the good old days, you know, blackouts, the IMF bailout, and strikes. Can’t wait.

We do have a deal most of which is undefined. Little like a mortgage with a payment amount to be determined at some point by the bank.

What About the 80%?

Johnson and his barrow boys have yet to mention what’s going to happen to the majority of our economy, services. We are a service-based economy. They are too busy selling day-old fish. Fish accounts for less than 1%, although you would have thought we all owned boats.

The largest contributor by far to GDP is financial services. They are currently in limbo. The firms based solely in the UK are. Those with offices in Europe are downsizing UK operations and expanding in places like Frankfurt and Paris.

Any chance the EU will cry foul for us? Stop International firms moving people and money to Europe? Yeah right. No, the reverse. In the same way, we took advantage of the single market to make London an international finance hub, the single market countries who have long wanted a piece of London’s action will be hard at work building empires off our back. They have already moved trillions of pounds in assets out of the UK.

He’s Behind You!

It’s probably fitting that a Brexit deal appeared during the Pantomime season. They have all the same elements. A feckless arrogant character who can’t seem to keep up with his nemesis requiring help from the audience. In our case the audience failed to participate.

We are where we are, an idealistic mess punctuated by throwing our toys out of the pram. The EU didn’t hand us a bad deal; we created it ourselves and the government owns the results. That’s why they are spinning hard pointing to fish and ignoring elephants.

Brexit Was Always Going to Be An Idealistic Train Wreck – But Now It’s Even Worse

Fail to plan, well you know the rest

Brexit was always a macabre comedy. We have stumbled from one blunder to another. Applied smoke and mirrors during negotiations because we lacked any defendable position. Used the word unfair a lot. Gone to Brussells with threats and returned with absolutely nothing. The EU actually have a defensible negotiating stance. Unfair to be that prepared. wouldn’t you say? If it wasn’t going to be hard enough clawing our way from under the rubble of failed negotiations, we now have been deeply layered by manure. It’s a Covid addition. You can argue we weren’t to know, but that’s the problem with crap plans. They’re, well crap.

This morning the government announced crisis talks to avoid pre Christmas food shortages. Merry Christmas and a happy Brexit might complete the announcement.

No Food and Possibly Vaccine

The new strain has worried mainland Europe to the extent that they have effectively closed not only personal travel but trading routes. The ones which carry just in time food for our shops. It was timely for the government to tell food stores to stock up. Let’s hope they listened.

Not only are we locked down in our homes, bubbles burst, but we may also be facing food shortages. And a lot of other stuff for that matter. Germany has put these new measures in place until the end of January. Belgium and France are still deciding the length of their embargo. The vaccine comes from Belgium. Where’s that? Greasy spoon outside Calais?

Needless to say, it looks like this will stretch past our decree absolute with our former partner the EU. It was always going to be a challenge to sort out how something as dysfunctional as the no-deal Brexit would work. Let’s inject a little reality into the picture; it wasn’t ever going to work. There are many in the train’s first-class carriage slamming down lashings of Port who don’t want it too. They most likely have their wish, we will proceed from chaos to complete shambles in one move.

If incompetent politicians weren’t enough

We are not in a good place. The Brexiteers who told us a little pain was necessary to get to nirvana and a trade deal with Equatorial Guinea, are about to perform surgery without anaesthesia. It’s probably a good thing we aren’t having people round for Christmas. We wouldn’t be able to feed them.

History tells us that ideologies are dangerous. Only they would think that executing on no plan during a pandemic was good for the country. Not to mention trying to deliver a flawed plan in a perfect environment. It was already highly likely we would feel that good Brexit pain in 2021 and lots of it. Given the current state of our borders, that’s guaranteed and there may be much worse to follow.

At The Present Rate of Inoculation – It will Take At least 14 Years To Complete the Task

Number of Inoculations in a Week Heralded

The government announced this week that they had administered 138,000 Covid vaccinations in one week. To be fair, they are just getting started so that number should move up. The US Centres for Disease Control by comparison, is projecting 7 to 10 million people receiving the vaccine. Taken on its face. The UK rate of 138,000 compared to the US is pathetic. The media loves to compare raw data and ignore population size difference, so let’s be fairer. If we agree that the US population is roughly 5 times that of the UK, our rate of inoculation adjusted for the US population would be 685,000 per week. Roughly one-twelfth of the US rate. At our current rate of inoculation, it will take 14 years to administer a two-part Pfizer jab.

The Math

Let’s define our variables. Total UK population is 68 million. Roughly 16 million Brits are 17 or younger. That group will not initially receive the vaccine. Which leaves us with 52 million people who need the vaccine. Again, let’s keep this simple. It will take 377 weeks to administer fully the first of two inoculations needed for the Pfizer vaccine if it is to be effective.

If we translate that to years? More than seven to administer the first half of the Pfizer vaccine to the entire population. 14 years to complete the task. Let’s say the University of Oxford’s one-part vaccine is approved. Currently, there has been little news surrounding where it might stand other than positive sound bites from the company. For argument’s sake, let’s say it does. People will only need one jab, and let’s also assume we are able to quadruple our jabs per week. We are down to 94 weeks to complete inoculating everyone above the age of 17. Just shy of two years.

Hold on I hear people say. What about all those Pfizer folks that have already had a jab? They haven’t gone away. In fact, those who need the second jab will be at the front of the queue. It’s reasonable to assume it could take a month or two to work through that backlog if the Oxford vaccine became available today. Without a 30-day booster, the recipients of the first Pfizer jab start all over again. Either way, they are still in the count.

The Reality

It is unlikely that the NHS will have the internal capability to significantly increase the rate of patient flow related to administering the jab in the near term. They have few options that would allow that to happen which don’t require putting others in their care lives at risk. The NHS could do a number of things to free up capability to administer more jabs. They can ignore those presenting at A&E. They could cancel needed operations. Delay diagnostics for potential cancer patients and others with life-threatening conditions. There is any number of variables. All of them translates into pain, suffering and potential death for those they should be caring for.

In another post, I outlined a very effective way to administer the vaccine and free up the NHS to care for the patients who need it. If we don’t address this problem now, it is very likely we will still be talking about ways to get out from under the pandemic a year from now. Also, thousands will die needlessly, businesses will continue to close and we will have buried ourselves in a mountain of personal and national debt.

The Future?

The elephant in the room is how long will the jab be good for? Even scientists don’t know the answer to that question. What if we have to start all over again in six months?

Tap Your Brexit Slippers Together Three Times and Get a Covid Test?

Covid Tests and NHS Access Say it All

Covid tests are a distilled Brexit reality. Want to get a Covid test in Croatia? €70 back in 12 Hours. Italy? €80, back in 24 hours. Florida that bastion of people dying in the street due to private healthcare? Free. Result in 12 hours. The UK, free at the point of use healthcare? £275, back in 36 hours, if you’re lucky. Want to see? have a cataract? 2-year wait on the NHS. Wink and a nod between you and your NHS doctor. Do it tomorrow in the private hospital for £3000. Can’t walk, need a new Knee? 2 years plus NHS wait. Jump the queue for £12,000 in your local NHS hospital. Free at the point of use if you have a couple of years to be invalid. Burden on the family or you enjoy pain. But remember, it’s free at the point of use. Covid tests are the petri dish of what’s to come. Overpriced, incompetent delivery and a complete lack of customer service with little choice.

What About Brexit?

Anyone remember the seventies? Supermarket shelves were almost empty? Choice? Nonexistent. If you holiday in France or Spain, you will know that quality, choice and price all trump UK food stores. Not to mention other retailers. This week the government told stores to stockpile food. We’ve got the EU right where we want them! Anyone want to guess why? What will change at the end of this month to make the situation any better? Apparently a “Canada style arrangement”. What the hell does that mean? It’s not as far fetched as the “Australian Arrangement” though. Both ignore the first rule in trade. Keep it local. Trading with Subsaharan countries or being allowed to stay 90 days in Switzerland is fluff. They’re blowing smoke. Welcome to the third world where idealistic platitudes substitute for reality.

It’s a good guess the green and pleasant land we were promised never really existed. Instead, we will be regressing towards the days when we had to beg the IMF to financially bail us out. The reason we joined the single market in the first place. If you can’t go forward, why not head to the worst situation we found ourselves in over the last 100 years. Makes sense. Might want to try cigarette burns to extremities. That will show them. The old story of I hit him in the knee with my face.

Where do we go From here?

Now that we are hell-bent on regressing back to the future. Ignoring the fact we have been a far more financially vibrant and successful country since joining the single market. Where do we go from here? Cliff, lemmings comes to mind. We’re heading towards a precipice we have no idea as to its severity. How far we fall. If we are lucky, not much. Brexiteers tell us the pain will be worth it. For how long? Don’t be so daft. Stupid question remoaner. Just jump off the cliff and shut your mouth.

Why ask a simple question like, “How will this impact my family?” Close your eyes and believe, moron………………….

Biden’s Foreign Policy Team Will Be Firmly Fixated on China – The UK Will be Lucky to Get a Mention

There are two things that give us a clear indication of a Biden Administration’s focus on both trade and substantive foreign relationships. One historical and the other is taking form as I write. Historically, the Obama/Biden government focused on China as a worthy trade partner and currently, Biden’s China centric appointments to his foreign policy and trade team. Neither should give Europe or the post-Brexit UK any comfort.

As Vice President, Biden focused on China. He made multiple trips to Beijing. He frequently referred to these during his presidential campaign as being one of his core strengths in repairing the relationship with China, trampled on by Trump with tariffs and continued rhetoric painting China as an adversary.

The new Biden team is very pro-China. It consists of several former executives from American big tech who view the EU as a declining and increasingly regulatorily hostile environment.   China is the real prize for global tech players.   Presenting itself as sensible around regulations and market constraints, and the promise of exponential growth.

There is also the disparity in population.  Europe’s 385 million, after the UK’s departure, is less than a third of China’s 1.4 billion.  Britain’s 65 million one-twentieth the size.  Faced with spending time with a declining EU and a relatively small British market, Biden will most likely choose to allocate resources where he can get the most bang for the buck.  His focus on China will also be sharpened by the hundreds of millions that flowed into his campaign from US companies stroking Chinese market growth plans.  They will be looking for a return. 

There are the stories in the 70’s during the early stages of the common market, when American negotiators would take meetings with the then 250-million-person Europeans. Promising to pick up with the UK off the back of those meetings.  They never took place.  It may well be the turn of the EU to find that the excitement of a new market with significant growth opportunities will place them firmly outside a closed door.   The UK should be wondering if we will even be in the building.

Several articles have painted the President-Elect as a pragmatist.  If correct, Air Force One will be on the ground in Beijing early January.