Tag Archives: Brexit – No Deal

What the Yellowhammer assessment reveals

The Sunday Times on August 18th led with this “leaked” Cabinet document, purportedly by a former Cabinet official and then downplayed by Mr Gove and others as a “worst case” scenario or a re-hash of “project fear”.

Even if the “revelations” are slightly dated (although it is said to have been an updated version) the base-case cannot have changed materially since March 2019 and if anything could arguably have worsened given the macro-fiscal setting the UK faces.

The National Audit Office produced a dry overview of Operation Yellowhammer in March 2019 which was setup under the aegis of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) at the Cabinet Office. The CCS works alongside the Department of Exiting the EU (DExEU) to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU across 12 areas.

The institutional mapping and framework to prepare for the operation is impressive and speaks volumes for the hard graft undertaken by our Civil Service and which would potentially involve over 30 central government bodies including all government departments or ministries, 42 local forums in England and Wales and equivalent bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland, governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as key sectors and industries.

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Tory “Wafflenomics” and the Expected Macroeconomic-fiscal Costs of NO DEAL

In my last piece, I outlined the expected consequences of a depreciating pound and that a looser fiscal response was the only feasible short-term policy response that would be available to deal with the massive macroeconomic shocks that are likely to ensue (an uncoordinated) NO DEAL Brexit.

Three and a half questions follow:

  • What is the Boris math for the litany of fiscal promises issuing since his “inauguration”?
  • Are these spending promises feasible & credible in terms of the macro-fiscal context the UK will face in a NO DEAL scenario?
  • What should our response as LibDems be to unpick if not defenestrate the Tory Wafflenomics in the run-up to October 31st? The half-question I leave for another occasion, what should be our policy response to deal with the after-effects from November 1 should a No Deal actually take place.

Math on Boris’ Fiscal Promises and projected values

(…mind you we’re just a few weeks in..)

  • 20,000 new police officers: £1bn (one-off)
  • Rise in 40% tax threshold from £50k to £80k: £10bn
  • National Insurance contributions at higher trigger: £11bn
  • Schools: reversing cuts in Education envelope: £5bn
  • Health: Unclear but: 20 New hospitals £1.8bn + wooing female voters £2bn + ??promised £350m per week: £3.8bn – £20bn
  • social care: £10bn
  • new railway Manchester – Leeds: £2.1 – £3.6bn depending on sources, assume £3bn
  • Help to farmers: £0.5bn (but is this just for the Welsh lamb?)
  • No-Deal Planning: £2.1bn (let’s assume £100m no-deal advertising part of this budget line)
  • Unbudgeted thus far: other sectors e.g. Fisheries, medicines, food shortages, …you get the picture…cost of increased policing…

Totting these figures gives £42bn excluding the £350m/week which alone would imply a further £18bn…and per year if the red bus promise is to be kept strictly. Large numbers in absolute terms (a billion has nine zeros) but not in relative terms as the UK economy is £2 trn in value (a trillion has 12 zeros), meaning that £42bn equates to around 2% of GDP or 5% of the current budget and therefore chunky but not a huge fiscal expansion…of itself..

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How will Boris fix the Irish border problem?

Boris ‘Kipper’ Johnson appears to believe that technological solutions can quickly be found for the Irish border problem. Everyone in the computer industry knows that is fantasy, which would lead to an orgy of criminality.

Right now, clever people are thinking about juicy ways to make money from a new land frontier, or just to cause trouble. My own taste runs more to throwing grit in bureaucracy than throwing mud at surveillance cameras, but readers can probably think of far worse things to do.

We should be thinking about another side to this issue. The day is not far off when all road vehicles will be permanently tracked, much as mobile phones and airliners already are. This will be part of the self-driving revolution, promised to reduce vehicle usage, air pollution, and road accidents. In principle, having a tracker in your car should be voluntary, but of course government and insurance companies will make it compulsory.

If Mr Kipper gets his way, every border-crosser in Ireland will be tracked. Not just vehicles and the commercial goods they carry, but also all passengers, human, animal, and explosive. There will be penalties for evasion, massive databases to be hacked by cyber-criminals, and huge scope for corruption. Mission creep will lead to facial recognition software, cross-correlation with phone data, etc.

But BoJo’s folly may have a silver lining. Back in 1964 the Smeed Report on Road Pricing spelled out how road users ought to pay the costs they impose upon others. It contained so much good sense that successive governments buried it, but Smeed’s ideas must prevail eventually. A future in which every vehicle is tracked (and charged) for every yard it moves is scary, but it would solve many problems near me in south-east London.

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Prime Minister Johnson – two potential glimmers of positivity


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I could ramble on for ages on the negative aspects of Prime Minister Johnson. There are, however, two glimmers of positivity:

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The NHS is not for sale

If you had still had any illusions that our NHS would survive Brexit, these will have been dispelled by the statement of Trump’s ambassador that, “The US will want business access to the NHS in any trade deal”. Indeed, some have speculated that access to the NHS, along with the rest of the economy, is the real reason behind Trump’s visit.

This should come as no surprise, for the “Stronger In” campaign always warned that the country could have Brexit or the NHS, but not both.

The NHS has long been admired by many Americans for its efficiency compared to their own expensive system, at the same time as our own politicians paradoxically sought to emulate the US model by introducing market forces and business practices.

The problem posed by copying Trump’s way of doing things is that we risk losing the close cooperation with Europe that has brought us so much success. A huge threat to both the staffing of the health service and Britain’s leading role in research, is the abolition of free movement. Free movement has been the catalyst for medical advance, enabling the sharing of experience and knowledge as researchers move seamlessly between countries. And on hospital wards all over the country, skilled nurses from many European countries have played a vital role.

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Has this Tory leadership hopeful nailed the format needed for a People’s Vote ballot paper?


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We’re beginning to hear some voices saying that “No deal” should not be on the ballot paper in the event of a People’s Vote/3rd referendum.

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No Deal catastrophic for livestock farmers

Hot off the Lib Dem press, pointing out the devastating effects of a No Deal to farmers:

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat DEFRA Spokesperson, today challenged the Government’s no deal planning which he described as “catastrophic” for rural communities.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:

Can I tell the Minister that I very much agree with him when he talks of Europe as a key export market for our Lamb producers and hill farmers. 160 of his colleagues last night voted for a no deal Brexit, including the Hon. Member who asked the question a no deal Brexit could expose lamb exports to a 12.8% plus €171.3/100kg tariff. Is that going to be good for our sheep farmers?

Responding on behalf of the Government, the Rt. Hon. Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Fishing and Farming, said:

The best way to prevent a situation in which we have a no deal Brexit is to vote for the deal. Nothing yesterday was supported by the House. The deal is the best thing for agriculture, the best thing for future, and the best thing for a long-term relationship between ourselves and the European Union.

Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:

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More Brexit Logic?

Following yesterday’s Parliamentary votes, we now face the following

1. We cannot have a no-deal Brexit because Parliament has voted against it

2. We cannot have no-Brexit because the referendum voted for Brexit

3. Therefore, we have to have Brexit with a deal, but

4. We can’t have Theresa May’s deal because Parliament has voted against it twice

5. The groups opposing Theresa May’s deal are:

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The clock is ticking down to March 29th and Parliament is far from a resolution

Remain-inclined MPs refuse to contemplate May’s hard Brexit. The hard-line Tory Right are fearful of a backstop, keeping trading links and protecting pesky inconveniences like workers’ rights and basic health and safety standards.

Nobody is willing to compromise. Including us. This is no bad thing. We are passionately and proudly open, internationalist and outward-looking. We cherish long-held cooperation with the rest of the world on trade, innovation, fighting climate change and much more. Many of us celebrate free movement. Above all, we value our place as leaders on the global stage.

We should continue to fight for a People’s Vote on this nebulous and measly-mouthed withdrawal deal.

However, with less than fifty days to go, a referendum on the deal is far from guaranteed. Only a maximum of 150 MPs currently backs a public vote. Moreover, even if the Labour leadership grew a backbone and supported our option, there’s a problem. The notorious lack of party discipline in Labour could still endanger the cause. It will be an uphill struggle.

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No Deal Brexit

It is now just over 11 weeks left before we leave the EU. We should have been a lot further with the negotiations that we are at the moment i.e. a deal agreed with the UK now in the process of negotiating a trade deal, this is what the Tories called a  ‘good deal’. But the bickering among the Tories that led us to a referendum almost sealed their fate in that they were never going to agree on what they considered was a good deal. Their bluster about how the EU would bend to their needs because BMW and …

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Cable: PM must stop threatening the country with no-deal Brexit

The leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has slammed the Prime Minister for refusing to end the uncertainty and rule out a no-deal Brexit, despite her assertions that her deal is the only option. 

Challenging the Prime Minister at PMQs today, Vince Cable said there was “absolutely no reason why the public should be alarmed by continuing discussions about a chaotic no-deal.”

He added: “It is entirely within the power of the House and the Government to stop it. So will she reassure the public that under no circumstances this will happen?”

In response, the Prime Minister refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Following the

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Recent Comments

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