The Curious Death of the Sunlit Uplands.

I wrote this for Chester for Europe on release of the so-called Yellowhammer document by Government

The government, under duress of the Humble Address Motion, have published an Operation Yellowhammer document.  We have put it here for you to read in full.  There are a few salient things I feel we must point out. 

The title of the document is “Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions”. The document is identical to that leaked to the press a month ago and the journalists who saw the leaked document say it’s title was “Base Scenario”. In other words, this was the expected set of consequences of falling out of the EU without a deal and that is why they should be planned for. Tom Gordon here provides with some evidence by comparing the copy which which went to the Scottish Government

Paragraph 15 Has been redacted.  Comparison by a journalist saw the leaked document says the paragraph says

“15. Facing EU tariffs makes petrol exports to the EU uncompetitive. Industry had plans to mitigate the impact on refinery margins and profitability but UK Government policy to set petrol import tariffs at 0% inadvertently undermines these plans. This leads to significant financial losses and announcement of two refinery closures (and transition to import terminals) and direct job losses (about 2000). Resulting strike action at refineries would lead to disruptions to fuel availability for 1-2 weeks in the regions directly supplied by the refineries.”

Would this closed refinery include Stanlow, we ask?  Not only will our area be at risk from the closures and company moves linked to the Just In Time problems as a third country, Stanlow may be at risk too.  That’s a lot of jobs in Cheshire at risk for no benefit.

This document is little more than an executive summary with no detail at all.  No information on what the measures are to mitigate these things.  Why have they not provided any of that detail at all? 

For example, examine paragraph 20.  It informs us of the impact on the adult social care sector.  The Upshot is within 4-6 months we will see social care providers closing as Brexit affects an already fragile sector with insufficient staff and no margins to play with.  When these companies shut their doors, who will look after the individual adults affected? Where are they going to go?  Where will we get staff to look after them?  It also presents questions such as,  if there is less social provision, will bed blocking become an even bigger problem than it is now?  We have no idea how the government have answered any of these obvious questions from this document.

Paragraph 20

We now know Project fear is Project Clear.  If these scenarios were not likely why would our public servants be spending our time and money on this.  We know they are and planning for food shortages, delays at ports, job losses, business closures,  It’s all there in black and white in this short document.  Don’t be fooled by the business=like, sanitised tone. 

The starkest warning is in paragraph 17 and represents a warning we have been giving since we started campaigning. 

“Low income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel”.

The title change demonstrates an attempt to downplay, remove the scary words in our heads but where are the spreadsheets and tables and figures and mitigation details?  At any rate they have not been able to hide the fact that they have confirmed everything remain campaigns have been saying for 3 years about the dangers of Brexit and no-deal Brexit in particular. 

Let me ask you this final question before you read the full document, if this is the worst case scenario, why have they not printed the Best Case Scenario?  If I wanted to ease peoples minds or show the benefits of no-deal and why I thought it was a valid way for the country to go  I would do that.  Wouldn’t you?  The government has not done that. There is no cost benefit analysis. Its all costs and no benefits.

I am sorry to report the Sunlit Uplands of Brexit were dead and buried a considerable time ago and this document proves it.  Mr Sunlit and Mrs. Uplands never really existed except in the minds and personal bank balances of the Brextremist Glitterati. 

Disaster Capitalism, takedowns and takeovers revisited.

I wrote these words over a year ago as part of a longer piece which was an analyis of the then situation with the two main parties both of who had succumbed to populist forces, but looking at the stories about Johnson’s cronies betting against the economy today I think this story perfectly illustrates #disastercapitalism.

I woke up this morning with my mind on an old customer whose story I would like to share.  I don’t wish to name names, so, as it amuses me, I will call them Dave, Ed & Nick LLP.   They were a customer for the best part of a decade.  I personally looked after their account and every other day would be talking to their excellent general manager John who ran the show for the owners, taking his orders, sorting out his problems, make sure his supplies and equipment arrived when he wanted them where he wanted them, keeping him happy.  A wonderful chap, an expert (yes, I know expertise is so last year), keeping his employer’s ship on a steady course for many years.  John knew what he was doing.   Sometimes he dropped a clanger or would make totally unreasonable demands and I would be swearing and muttering to myself around the office as I tried to figure out a solution that would get him out of a fix.  I always did and often it cost us money and he wasn’t always as grateful as I would have liked, but he always paid the bills and gave a fair price. Our working relationship was both excellent and mutually beneficial.

Then out of the blue the Dave, Ed & Nick LLP partners all wanted to retire and sell up.  John decided to go to pastures new and his assistant, Ben was put in his place.  We were assured there would be no change, we would have the exact same benefits and relationship with the new permutation of the company.  Of course, the inevitable unravelling started quickly.  The calls from Ben were full of unspoken anxiety and stress, you could almost feel him shrinking in the middle of the circle of wagons as he came under siege.   Their accounts department dragged their feet, Ben’s budget was squeezed, customers started to leave them in droves.  I would have to stop supplies until invoices were paid, never happened before.   It turned out that the new owners were not interested in job creation, or investing for growth, they were not interested in the existing staff or the long history of the company.  They had used lies to keep staff on board.  The prize in their sights was the prime property the company owned which was right in the middle of an area of intense redevelopment for buy to let luxury apartments.   Without telling anybody who would be affected they were running the company down for the cashflow whilst they got a developer on board, which they did.  Within a year the company which had operated for 30 years was dead, no profit, no customers, redundancy notices handed out.  The plaque on the swish new apartments should read RIP Dave, Ed & Nick LLP you served us well but well, we couldn’t be bothered with all that work malarkey and besides we made more money this way.