Observations of an expat: Looking foolish

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Everyone hates to look foolish. To avoid this hugely embarrassing peril they will often go to great lengths ranging from self-deception to conspiracy theories to lies.

And the greater the personal investment in an untenable position the more difficult it is for the investor to change direction and face the chorus of “I told you so’s.”

Two of the most prominent examples of this foolishness are Brexit and Donald Trump. Millions of intelligent Americans have invested their political heart and soul in the Cult of Trump. They cannot comprehend the possibility of his losing the November presidential election. Therefore, their leader must be the victim of a massive fraud.

The numerous election officials – Republican and Democrat – who consistently maintain that the vote was the fairest in American history are evil participants in a Deep State conspiracy. They are in an unholy league with the courts that have repeatedly dismissed the Trump campaign claims of election chicanery.

The fact-filled brick wall that Trump supporters have bumped up against has led some of them to call for dangerously extreme measures. Pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has, for instance, called on President Trump to suspend the constitution, cancel the election result, declare martial law and then use the military to oversee fresh elections.

Britain’s Brexiteers are faring equally badly, although in a different way.

During the 2016 Brexit referendum debate and afterwards the proponents of British withdrawal from the EU promised the British voters an array of reassuring sound bites. They could have their “cake and eat it too”. Negotiations with the EU would be “Easy peasy”. Ireland was not a problem and Prime Minister Boris Johnson had an “oven ready deal” to “Get Brexit Done.”

Whenever those opposed to Brexit pointed out the numerous pitfalls of ending free trade with its biggest and nearest trading partner and unpicking thousands of regulations, security links, trade patterns, scientific connections and political cooperation they were accused of resorting to “fear factor” tactics.

Well the nightmare of the Fear Factor is now the Here Factor. After a year of hard negotiations aimed at establishing a UK-EU trade agreement, both sides have effectively admitted failure. Short of a diplomatic miracle, Britain will leave the EU on 1 January 2022 without a deal.

Some of the results in the UK of this momentous failure in statecraft are price rises for European-produced products ranging from 2.8 to 35 percent. Freight road traffic is likely to be held up for days at a time as customs checks are introduced at ports on both sides of the English Channel. Perishable medicines and foods may be lost. A question mark hangs over the future of London’s future as a financial centre. A fishing war is likely between France and Britain and British police will be denied access to the EU’s database of criminal records. There are many more repercussions.

The Bank of England reckons that this No Deal Brexit will lead to inflation and, according to The Economist, an eight percent shrinkage in the UK economy. This would be on top of the 11.3 percent contraction that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has predicted will be caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The reaction of the British government is to minimise the problem and accuse their European negotiating partners of inflexibility and bad faith.  They are not shouting fraud like their American cousins across the pond, but they are doubling down, seeking scapegoats and doing their best to not look foolishly incompetent.

The Johnson government is as heavily invested in the concept of Brexit as the Republican Party is in the cult of Trump. Neither can abandon their position without looking foolish. The problem is that there comes a point when you no longer appear foolish. You look plain ridiculous.

* American expat journalist Tom Arms is LDV's foreign affairs editor and Campaigns Chair for Wandsworth Lib Dems. His book “America: Made in Britain” was published on 15 October.

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37 Comments

  • Barry Lofty 11th Dec '20 - 5:55pm

    Leaving aside my opposition to Brexit it seems completely incomprehensible that this government does not face reality in the on going economic disaster that the covid19 pandemic has wrought on the world. Our country needs a sensible trading relationship with our nearest customers and allies for the sake of the future prosperity of our own people, but I guess our PM is trying not to upset his Brexiteer friends in the ERG group who might cause him problems over his leadership. As usual self interest overrides common sense.

  • Peter Chambers 11th Dec '20 - 7:30pm

    While the US might find it wise to be quiet in the short-term, a longer term review of voting machines and their audit trail might be wise before next time. Purely in the interests of fairness for all and free elections. Happily the paper trail for main-in voting provides an audit trail as a by-product. Better standards for in-person voting would be a good non-partisan improvement, and would allow a graceful exit for those suppliers who have worries that they cannot make secure machines at the current prices.

  • Nigel Jones 11th Dec '20 - 8:59pm

    The current situation is a test of how Boris will react and how Brexiteers generally will react. They could end up stirring people even more against the EU and if that happens we could go further into our self-centred corner, regarding more of the people around the world as our enemies. A retreat into the British Empire attitude of the past is possible. Look at the way so many are boasting about the first vaccine. It’s one of the few credits of this government that they put orders for it well in advance, but it came about through efforts of people outside the UK.
    Tom’s information about the extremists in the USA is worrying; could the same happen here, led by people such as Nigel Farage ? The current mood of so many to ignore facts and expert views makes the situation even more dangerous.

  • Peter Martin 11th Dec '20 - 10:21pm

    It’s probably better if the Lib Dems adopt a wait-and-see approach to Brexit. The EU seems to be relatively stable at the moment. So how has that happened?

    The ECB, or the EU itself if you prefer, and in response to the Covid crisis, has simply suspended all the rules about what is allowable in terms of Government budget deficits and National Debts. The Italian National Debt is estimated to be about 170% of GDP right now and will soon rise to over 200% of GDP if the ECB keeps on buying Italian bonds. Other countries are not too far behind.

    So the question is how the frugal four of Germany, Netherlands, Finland and Austria will react later in the new year as, hopefully, the Covid problem abates. Unlike the UK which has its own Central Bank, and so QE is a process of Govt borrowing from itself, the Italians and others are borrowing from the ECB which uses those liabilities as offsets against mainly German credits. In other words the Italians owe the frugal four. But what happens if the four want their money back, or at least say they aren’t prepared to lend any more?

    There could be an almighty euro crisis which would dwarf than the 2012 crisis. If the four take a hard line it could look like Brexit was a smart thing to do.

    On the other hand the Germans and Dutch could take the view that “it’s only money” and let the ECB continue to create as much as they like. In which case life will go on pretty much as normal in the EU.

    Which do we think is more likely?

    https://www.bruegel.org/2020/10/growth-uncertainty-european-central-bank-intervention-and-the-italian-debt/

  • I must be the only Liberal on here who has gone from a pro to anti EU stance. The stance on here and from the Lib Dems we are right, shut up you nasty xenophobic small Britisher attitude was what lost the Lib Dems seats last time round and what have we got on here more of the same. So Ed Davies is doing the rounds to try and listen. So maybe our policy should be cooperation with Europe. EU is at a moment in its History, does it become a nation state which some in the Parliament and some Politicians wish to push for or does it wish to be a series of inter government cooperation led by an executive. If it is the former I have no desire, if it is the latter than yes for me

  • Dan: Brexit is going to become less popular once its real effects become apparent, while those who still believe will vote for True Believers rather than poll-chasers. We have the chance to make hay from the Brexit disaster provided we make clear that Johnson & co own it. It doesn’t mean saying “I told you so” or anything similar, just putting the blame for people’s economic dire straits on the Tories, and by implication Brexit.
    No-one suggests the UK will be in a position to rejoin the EU any time soon. Our policy is cooperation with the EU, with rejoining as a long-term objective.
    Surely a Parliament-led “nation-state” type arrangement is more democratic than “a series of inter government cooperation led by an executive”. The “executive” is not directly elected, while Parliament is. The perception of “unelected Bureaucrats in Brussels” is precisely one of the things that led to the vote for Brexit.

  • Hi Alex,
    You raise a few good points, I should have pointed to the UN as an example of cooperation although on slanted terms. International cooperation is the future and as long as the individual governments and representatives have a say then it is all for the good. My worries with the EU in its current construction is that emergency action has caused power to shift to the centre rather than being done in a natural and succeesive way with a willingness of the population at large. There is little in the way of common ideology, goals or themes. The latest one in regards to Poland and Hungary where autocratic rule is now on the march and EU has done little to contain it and deferred any action. Neither on the Turkey issue. So the question is what does EU want to be.. A collaborative effort with cooperation in areas, (yes please) or a state., which some would prefer it to be. If it is the expressed desire to be a state then it should have category said from beginning that’s the intention Done without consent will only lock in nationalism, hence issues in Netherlands, France and Germany. The last state that was such a construct was Yugoslavia and the ramifications of that are being felt to this day. If you look at from this view then Brexit was inevitable. We as Liberal should make that our center goal and theme, that we are interested in cooperation and coordination as we do in the UN, Nato and other organisations but have very little interest in a political union unless there is the expressed overwhelming desire in the country. With this as a central plank we can lay to rest the Jo problems of the last election

  • It seems that whatever Johnson and co have said recently their real aim all along has been a no deal Brexit and things said recently make this clear. The apparent inablity to understand how a free trade area works and the need for a level playing field and means to resolve conflicts indicates either ignorance or disingenuousness, probably both. The press is fully supporting the Government in all its twists and turns and whipping up hostility to the EU so people will blame that rather than the Tory Government.

  • Shows you how stupid they are if that’s their aim

  • John Marriott 12th Dec '20 - 11:47am

    Whether you are pro EU, anti EU, pro Remain or anti Remain (in other words pro Brexit) or if you just want it all over, whatever happens after 31 December will take some time to unwind.

    Let us say that, by some quirk of fate, things turn out not that bad. Who knows how happy the EU is in its own skin? Italy has already been mentioned as a Greece Mark Two and then there’s Hungary and Poland, with the potential for change at the top in Germany and France not far down the line.

    Now, if as generally predicted, things go from bad to worse, who will get the blame? As Tom Arms has written, the Trumpists in the USA have not gone away so, what about the arch Brexiteers? There is clearly only one answer to the question from them. It will be Europe – and I don’t just mean the EU. If it were possible to move the British Isles into the mid Atlantic that would suit the Farage’s of this world just fine. Don’t believe Nigel when he says “Love Europe, hate the EU”. He clearly loves Trump’s America even more. The first rule of politics? Never admit you were wrong. As for saying “Sorry”!

    As the song goes; “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself”.

  • Great news for patriotic Brexiting Brits [/sarc] – the Royal Navy is to be deployed to stop French fishermen taking our fish.

    Boris and Co seem to think that’s job done. But what if the French fishermen don’t take on the Navy and just blockade Calais? I doubt Macron do much to stop them; probably he would quietly support them.

    On top of all the other Brexit-related chaos, how long would it be before supermarket shelves began to empty and some industries started closing as key supplies ran out? My guess is three days, becoming critical in a week to 10 days.

    If that’s how it happens, Boris would be forced into a humiliating climbdown within two to three weeks.

    In the US, ahem, dodgy electoral practices have long been a feature of the system. Gerrymandering is blatantly practiced by both parties (see Wikipedia ‘gerrymandering’) to secure the desired result. Similarly, the freezing out of third-party candidates by making it very difficult to get on the ballot. And again, allowing virtually unlimited campaign spending means the system approximates to ‘one $, one vote’.

    This latest election pitted two transparently poor candidates against each other – Trump with his chaotic mismanagement style and Biden with a record of suspect dealings and allegedly suffering from dementia which could easily have been refuted by an extended TV interview with a combative interlocutor – but wasn’t.

    So, it’s not surprising that a poll last month found that 77% of Trump supporters believe that Biden won improperly. That’s an ongoing issue for the legitimacy of the US system whatever the truth of the matter.

    And Trump isn’t always entirely wrong although the chaos that surrounds him disguises that. In particular he is right that mail-in ballots are vastly more exposed to malicious interventions than in-person voting. Also, some critical results are extreme outliers that are very hard to explain.

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-we-question-the-election-results/

    https://spectator.us/reasons-why-the-2020-presidential-election-is-deeply-puzzling/

  • Johnson and his merry bunch of Brexiteers are riding high with the backing of the right-wing press and their supporters and seem unassailable at present but I remember the Poll tax and how quickly the worm turned for a certain Margaret Thatcher, I waiting for that moment to happen again, there will be plenty of opportunities in the not too distant future.

  • I support Brexit because I believe that our country should be ruled by people who are democratically elected by and accountable to the people of this country.

  • I am sorry but I do not think that our electoral system is democratic, far from it! The EU may not be perfect but the good it has done this country is easily forgotten in all the propaganda that has been thrown around over the years!

  • Gordon 11:48
    Gerrymandering is not confined to the US. Londonderry in the 1960s for example. They used to say vote early vote often in that part of the world.

  • I am astonished how little much of the UK political establishment has failed to engage with the EU. And, because most bureaucrats like to accrete power, their centralising bias has run riot.

    That set up the powerful Leaver meme of “unelected bureaucrats” which perfectly reflected the powerlessness felt by many. But newsflash: civil servants are always “unelected bureaucrats” – in the UK as in Europe.

    The problem was lack of political oversight which is precisely what LDs (and others in the UK) didn’t provide. They could have/should have set out a Liberal vision but instead chose to act as cheerleaders for whatever plans the eurocrats cooked up for the awkward truth is that the real (as opposed to declared) aim of the LDs long ago became joining the establishment. Hence Clegg and the Rose Garden.

    Chief among the eurocrats centralising plans was the euro. There is some evidence that from the off it was intended as a Trojan horse to force centralisation of power via the inevitable crises some of us knew it would cause – as indeed it has in Greece, Italy etc. On the other hand, it could have been gross incompetence. The jury is out IMO.

    Another very successful Leaver meme is to depict the EU as an ‘Evil Empire’ (my paraphrase) doing bad things to helpless little us. In reality we were, along with France and Germany, one of the three ‘big beasts’ with the most influence. When it exerted itself, the UK was very successful; both the expansion to the former Soviet bloc countries of the east and the single market were successful British promotions. The perma-recession of fishermen, of Scotland and of the former coalfields is simply because no recent UK government has really bothered about them.

    And, if the EU really is an ‘Evil Empire’ as well as being by far your largest trading partner plus (never mentioned) the only prospective one in the World that permits free trade in services, by far our strongest sector, plus (also never mentioned) has closely integrated supply chains that unravel under Brexit then, given all that it’s dumb in the extreme to pick a fight and go off in a huff. No Deal would result in a collapse in living standards and an epic loss of sovereignty as we become rule-takers and the UK fragments.

  • David Evershed 12th Dec '20 - 3:45pm

    French fishermen will blockade the Channel ports to try to force the UK to let them fish in UK waters without an agreement to do so. Things are going to turn nasty. The EU will become even more unpopular in the UK. Lib Dems should distance themselves from being seen to support the EU against the UK.

  • Barry Lofty 12th Dec '20 - 3:57pm

    Looks like Johnson’s ploy to use the fishing agenda to stir up the nationalistic sentiment in the country is working!!!

  • The EU does not want a trade deal, it wants to punish the EU and deter other countries from leaving. The EU demand is for swathes of our sovereignty in return for trade and for that arrangement to last in perpetuity.The EU seriously misjudged the UK. Brexit has always been about Sovereignty, even if trade suffers.

    The French behaviour, if they lose control, would be unfortunate but not surprising. I suspect most EU countries could do without that and Macron is becoming a liability.

    I have always believed proper negotiation between the EU and UK cannot take place until the EU accepts that the UK is an independent sovereign nation. That may take some time.

  • Let us wait and see what actually happens. Whatever side you are on, surely deliberate damage to the UK cannot be part of your plan. Similarly, wishing ill on your neighbours is not a good look. Clearly there is a big game of chicken going on right now. The danger is that something gets out of control and we all suffer. Let us hope that good sense prevails at the last moment. I do not claim to understand the details of the deal so far negotiated, but surely, as a minimum, it must be possible to write in that for the trade deal we agree to use WTO terms for now, and allow the rest of the deal already agreed to become operative.

  • Daniel Walker 12th Dec '20 - 6:00pm

    @Peter “The EU demand is for swathes of our sovereignty in return for trade

    All international deals, indeed all deals really, involve an exchange of considerations. “You do this and I’ll do that”. The UK, for example, is a member of the Universal Postal Union, which requires us to accept post from other members, some restrictions on the design of stamps, set terminal dues etc. so we have “lost” sovereignty over those aspects of the postal service.

    A deep trading deal, or even a thin one, requires commitment to equivalent standards¹, and to maintaining them, and the EU will not breach the integrity of the single market, and, moreover, was obviously never, ever, going to, just as we would have insisted if we were still members.

    1. Apparently, the NFU is already lobbying for the neonicotinoids ban to be lifted; why would the EU allow products grown using a substance it has banned to be imported?

  • @Daniel Walker – Good try, but EU demands are far beyond normal trading of aspects of sovereignty. The EU is demanding control of employment law, taxation, environmental legislation, workers rights, state aid and of course the Common fisheries policy to control our coastal waters. Their demands are frankly outragious.

  • Peter Parsons 12th Dec '20 - 9:54pm

    @Peter, the UK is doing the same by asking to maintain completely tariff-free, quota free access to the EU internal market. Essentially, member-level access without being a member. It’s not an unreasonable position that member-level access to the EU market comes with member-level obligations. The UK can’t have its cake and eat it.

  • David Evershed 13th Dec '20 - 1:50am

    Peter Parsons
    The UK is only seeking the same terms that other countries have achieved in their trade deals with the EU eg Canada

  • Andrew Tampion 13th Dec '20 - 7:51am

    Also the UK is presumably offering rhe EU reciprocal tariff and quota free access to the UK’s internal market which would be a generous offer.

  • Let’s not forget that, had LibDem MPs chosen to engage constructively in the Letwin process, their votes could have put both staying in the Single Market and in the Customs Union across the line, and through to the next stage, for which more parliamentary time had already been put aside. It is quite possible that an alternative with parliamentary support would have gathered momentum among backbenchers and/or forced the government to adopt a more sensible approach itself.

    Instead of which, it was LibDem votes that ensured that all of the other options were defeated, filling the press with headlines about how MPs had voted against everything, killing Letwin’s search for an alternative, and leading directly to where we are now.

  • Peter Parsons 13th Dec '20 - 8:52am

    @David Evershed, Canada does not have completely tariff-free, quota-free access to ther EU market. The UK seeking better terms than Canada has. If you believe otherwise, I’, afraid you’ve bought into a narrative that is not true.

  • Peter Parsons 13th Dec '20 - 9:06am

    @Andrew Tampion, the UK is offering that, but remember that the UK market is a much smaller market than the EU27 market. Exports to the EU27 currently represent about 12% of the UK economny, but exports the other way round represent less than 3% of the EU27 economy.

    From the EU27’s point of view, if they are going to grant completely free access to their market to a much smaller third country (which is what the UK will be), then they will want something in return for granting that access as it is the view of the EU27 that Brexit will hurt both sides, but it will hurt the UK much more than the EU27, and the EU27’s view is that the UK needs a deal more than the EU27 does.

  • David Evershed 13th Dec '20 - 11:19am

    When considering imports and exports between the UK and the EU, we need to consider trade in services separately from trade in goods.

    Services accounted for 42% of the UK’s exports to the EU in 2019. Such services do not benefit from special zero tariffs in the EU in the way that goods do.

    On the other hand, without a free trade deal all EU goods exports of cars, food and wine to the UK will suffer tariffs being imposed.

  • Peter Parsons 13th Dec '20 - 11:27am

    Indeed, goods and services are different. In the event of a WTO no deal, trade in goods can continue, albeit more expensively due to the cost of tariffs and non-tariff barriers (estimated to add between 4% and 8% of cost). That simply puts up the price to the UK consumer. Trade in services, however, is much more impacted, and that impacts direcly on UK businesses who currently operate across the EU27 market, limiting or eliminating their ability to carry on generating business as they did previously.

    Neither of those are a good outcome for the UK economy, people living in the UK, at any time, and certainly not a good outcome at this time.

  • Andrew Tampion 13th Dec '20 - 4:45pm

    Peter Parsons. According to the latest information I could find the UK is the EU’s second biggest export market, wheras Canada doesn’t make the top 10. So you would think that that would be worth more favourable terms on that basis.

  • Peter Martin 13th Dec '20 - 9:31pm

    ” Exports to the EU27 currently represent about 12% of the UK economy, but exports the other way round represent less than 3% of the EU27 economy.”

    So the EU27, as the bigger of the two, have to get much the better of the deal? Including the right to adjudicate on future interpretations of how the deal should be legally interpreted?

    So the logic of all this would imply that Big is both Beautiful and necessary for our economic wellbeing! Never mind devolving power away from the centre. That is simply creating lots of minnows which are easy prey for the predatory pike in the global pool. How does this square with Lib Dem ideology?

    Maybe Lib Dems should take a look at Iceland. Pop 300k. They aren’t afraid of taking on the big boys when the occasion demands it. Remember how they took on the Royal Navy in the Cod Wars? They weren’t a push over after the GFC either and succesfully took on the big American hedge funds who were insistent that the Icelandic Govt should fully compensate their losses.

    They seem to be doing quite well economically.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 14th Dec '20 - 1:25am

    @ Peter M,

    So the EU27, as the bigger of the two, have to get much the better of the deal? Including the right to adjudicate on future interpretations of how the deal should be legally interpreted?

    That is possibly one of the more naive statements I’ve seen for a while.

    Funnily enough, might tends to be favoured in negotiations, as in wars. And, in any event, access to a market of 400 million plus is likely to have more value than access to a market of 65 million, unless there are other economic imbalances in play. You parlay that enhanced value to best advantage and, if both sides benefit, a deal gets done.

    And yes, small countries can survive and thrive, usually if they have something rare and valuable to offer. Sadly, we don’t really have enough of such things, and rely too heavily on selling services for that to apply here.

    Even more sadly, we’ve apparently decided as a nation that we want to give up paying the price for favoured access but would rather like to keep the benefits. If we really do want to maintain the sort of access we had before, there will be a price paid by someone, be it in additional bureaucracy – estimated at £7.5 billion per annum for customs paperwork alone – or additional transportation costs or whatever, as that access is obviously beneficial – we wouldn’t be trying to negotiate it if it wasn’t.

    Is sovereignty worth it? That’s for everyone to judge for themselves, but unless you can use sovereignty to pay for things, I’d tend to the view that pooling some sovereignty in return for economic benefit is probably a better choice, especially given that sovereignty is a bit of an illusion these days.

  • Peter Martin 14th Dec '20 - 12:04pm

    @ Mark,

    Yes we do rely too much on selling services and that has happened to an increased extent while we have been members of the EU.

    Governments of all parties, and all mainly Pro EU in outlook, have had a poor record of standing up for our manufacturing industries and our fishing industry. The decline in our traditional sources of income created the conditions for Brexit. The Leave voting areas were largely characterised by the extent of their economic decline rather than the level of immigration into them.

    So maybe it’s a UK thing that we aren’t big enough to matter and we just have to accept whatever is on offer without question. This is the position of both the Lib Dem and Labour parties. The only question to be asked when the EU says jump…..

    In which case you are right and leaving the EU won’t make much difference at all.

  • I suspect some may have taken my earlier comment warning that French fishermen might blockade Calais to mean that the French government would put them up to it. If so, that’s not what I meant.

    It was simply my guess based on the longstanding practice of aggrieved French workers of gumming up the works; truck drivers blockade roads, farmers dump manure on the town hall steps and fishermen blockade ports.

    Since then, a quick search came up with the piece l from just over a year ago by RTE’s excellent Tony Connelly and yes, it seems my guess was on the money.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2019/1115/1091162-brexit-fish-talks/

    It’s another instance of how badly Boris & Co misunderstand the potential pitfalls; blundering about like a bull in a China shop isn’t a good plan.

    Also, much the unfairness in fish quotas is down to past UK governments. Most of the UK fleet (77%) is small boats (<10 meters) fishing for crab, lobster etc. in nearshore waters and working out of smaller ports in Cornwall and elsewhere yet they have only 2% of the UK quota because their share was set based on landings in 1994-96 when they didn’t have to record their catch (the rest of the UK quota belongs to big boats working further offshore).

    Someone stiffed the small boats when the UK quota was parcelled out that way and it wasn’t the EU.

    But it’s so much easier and more emotionally satisfying to blame the EU.

  • Peter Martin 14th Dec '20 - 7:30pm

    @ Gordon,

    I expect there will still be a demand for fish from French customers and if those fish are only available from UK waters a way around the problem will be found.

    The French government won’t, under WTO rules, be allowed to apply differential tariffs against UK caught fish. It will have to be the same for all fish exporters to the EU. There is really not a lot of point applying tariffs if local producers can’t enough produce anyway. It would be like the UK applying tariffs on Oranges and Coconuts.

    If there is an unofficial blockade of some French ports then I would expect that Dutch, Belgian and Spanish boats will buy their fish from UK boats. Probably French boats too when the fuss has died down. The catch will be transferred mid Channel. If there is a margin on the deal then that’s going to happen. That also avoids any tariffs on the imported fish.

    Fish stocks in UK waters are, no doubt, in need of some replenishment. If the fish are just left where they are for the next few years to breed, that won’t be a bad outcome for the future.

  • Peter – the small boat fleet working in nearshore waters sell the vast majority (>80% IIRC) to middlemen who transport it in specially adapted trucks for sale live to customers on the continent. Speed is essential or the catch dies and becomes worthless.

    Sold live, it commands a premium price which is essential to the economics of the whole operation as margins are very tight so it’s a poor living for the fishermen. It also means they would have next to no ability to ride out any disruption absent government subsidies.

    You suggest mid Channel transfers to EU boats, but I doubt that would work for the small boats of the UK nearshore fleet, especially when winter storms are about.

    Heath got this badly wrong and we (or rather the fishermen) have lived with the consequences ever since but a ‘head down and charge’ approach risks killing the patient. A long game is needed; unfortunately, that is clearly beyond this governments very limited ability.

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