Thursday, 12 September 2019

Yellowhammer: noise we didn't need


If you're doing any sort of contingency planning then you look at the worst case scenarios. And then you plan to mitigate them. I'm not full conversant in what has been done but it looks like we shouldn't have much of a problem with incoming goods and until such a time as mainland EU is fully prepared to impose full third country controls (and while the UK is policing access to the ports properly) then outgoing won't be too problematic.

Many of the headline scares exist from more than two years ago - before the announcement of the EU's own unilateral contingency measures which will be reciprocated. The scares, though plausible at the time without some acknowledgement from government, have been obsolete for a while now.

Moreover, anyone in business who wants to stay in business has already done the necessary work to ensure they can still export to the EU - whether it be setting up importer offices inside the EU or finding a freight forwarding company to assist. Production lines have built up stockpiles of components and rearranged their scheduling so as to avoid the ports on Brexit day until there is a clearer idea of what is happening. It's probable that just enough has been done to offset the worst of the immediate headline effects of no deal.

Course, that doesn't stop pundits and politicians alike hyperventilating over the Yellowhammer report - which is widely dismissed by Brexiters as "project fear", while inventing imaginative reasons why none of it can happen. But it's all noise. What we should be worried about, and what we are not even discussing is the secondary impacts which stand to have a greater overall impact on jobs and trade.

Yellowhammer might read like a bedtime horror story but it's the EU's Notices to Stakeholders (NTS)(published more than a year ago) that makes for the most gruesome reading and if you know what it is you're looking at then that's the stuff that should keep you awake at night.

The EU's unilateral contingency measures really only deal with the high end stuff to ensure basic transport connectivity and whatever else is necessary to look after its own interests, but the NTS details all the different sectors where the UK no longer enjoys the same market participation rights which sees commercial operations brought to a standstill. We take an immediate 20 percent hit when we lose mutual recognition, and our services will be slashed.

Much of this has been misreported or trivialised by the media, looking at stories in isolation from aircraft repair approvals to farm waste removal. the media has been unable to stitch together a clear picture of the kind of behind the border disruption not directly linked with import/exports that business will face in the event of no deal.

Then, of course, there is the longer term picture of what happens in the economy when all the third country controls are in oerationand we are subject the the EU's standard tariffs. In overselling Brexit doomsday, all the remainers have succeeded in doing is to harden opposition - resulting in the sort of trite, idiotic dribble we see from Spiked Online today.

Instead of a cool headed look at the issues all we have seen from politicians is hyperventilation over issues they haven't examined, don't understand and even after three years of debate still haven't noticed. The Yellowhammer report is just a stick to beat the government with - typically confusing activity with productivity.

Though the debate has long been highly polarised we have now reached a state of total polarisation with two camps largely talking only to themselves, with media output now having zero infomation value. All we have is noise where the most ignorant have the loudest voice. That more than anything is the main reason we are probably leaving without a deal.

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