brexit

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Liz Truss’ False Energy Bill Cap Claim has Misled Public, Poll Finds

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/09/2022 - 11:21pm in

Six in 10 voters believe the Prime Minister's false claim that the Government is capping total household energy bills at £2,500 a year, reports Adam Bienkov

The public are being misled by Liz Truss’ false claim about capping total household energy bills from next week, a new Omnisis poll for Byline Times suggests.

The Prime Minister was rebuked by independent fact-checkers on Thursday after repeatedly making the false claim that households would pay no more than £2,500 a year for their energy.

“We have taken action by the Government stepping in, making sure that nobody is paying fuel bills of more than £2,500," Truss told BBC Radio Kent. She went on to repeat the claim on other local radio stations over the course of the morning.

However, under her Government’s plans, which will come into force next week, only the unit price of electricity will be capped – meaning many households will in fact pay well in excess of the £2,500 figure quoted by Truss.

Downing Street has yet to correct the Prime Minister's false claim. However, new polling by Omnisis for Byline Times suggests that a clear majority of people listening to the Prime Minister's claims will have believed her.

According to the poll, 58% of those surveyed said they understood Truss' statements to mean that their bills will be capped at £2,500; with just 42% saying that they instead believed there would be no such absolute cap.

The chief executive of Full Fact told Byline Times that the Prime Minister must stop misleading the public.

 "The Prime Minister must correct the record to avoid misleading people and ensure they are not hit by unaffordable and unexpected energy bills", Will Moy said.

"The evidence is that significant numbers of people are confused about what the guarantee means for them, and that could be a very costly confusion.

"More than that, the PM is asking for people's trust - and trust is earned."

A Budget for the Wealthy

Omnisis' findings also suggest that the fallout from last week's mini budget has badly damaged public trust in Liz Truss' handling of the economy.

According to the polling, almost seven in 10 voters do not have confidence in the Prime Minister to manage the economy during the cost of living crisis. Meanwhile 63% of those surveyed said they do not believe her claim that cutting taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals will grow the economy.

The Government's plans to scrap the top rate of tax, cut corporation tax and lift the cap on bankers' bonuses also appear to have damaged the Government's reputation.

Sixty-seven per cent of those asked said that the mini budget would "deepen inequality", while 81% said that the Government should instead be making the richest in society pay more.

Overall, 66% said that the budget would help people on higher incomes, compared to just 10% who said that it would help people on lower incomes. Just 4% said it would help people living in poverty.

The mini budget also appears to have damaged public belief in the Government's 'levelling-up' agenda. Seventy-two per cent of those asked by Omnisis said they don't believe the Prime Minister now cares about the issue.

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Brexit Regrets

Truss' Government sold its mini budget on a claim to be taking advantage of the supposed "opportunities" of Brexit. However, today's polling also found that most voters believe that the UK's exit from the EU has left the country worse-off.

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said they believe the UK would be better-off if it was still a member of the EU.

Public confidence in the Government's handling of Brexit also remains low, with 73% saying they believe that the Government is handling it badly.

Public support for rejoining the EU is also high, according to the poll – with 61% of voters saying that they would vote for Britain to re-join the bloc if another referendum was held today.

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Conservative MPs Fear Liz Truss is Pushing the UK Economy to Disaster

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/09/2022 - 7:49pm in

The Prime Minister's Brexit-driven ideology is pushing the UK economy off a cliff and her own MPs fear they may not be able to stop her, reports Adam Bienkov

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The pound is plunging, Government borrowing costs are going through the roof and the Bank of England has spent tens of billions in order to stop a run on UK pension funds. Meanwhile, mortgage companies are pulling their products as traders warn darkly that the UK is on the edge of a Lehman Brothers-style collapse.

And yet the word in Downing Street is that absolutely everything is going to plan.

Government sources told reporters on Wednesday that there would be “no change” to its policy and instead suggested that the current crisis was a “blip” caused by international markets failing to understand the sophisticated nature of Truss’ economic plan. 

Rather than row back from proposals to hand massive tax cuts to millionaires, ministers have instead been asked to find “efficiency savings” from public services instead. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Philp, suggested on Wednesday evening that benefit claimants could also be asked to accept real terms cuts to the support they receive. 

Speaking to the BBC on Thursday morning, Liz Truss insisted that she will push ahead, as it is “the right plan that we have set out” and “we have to do it”.

For many Conservative MPs this is not just fantasy economics, but fantasy politics.

With polls suggesting that the party’s economic credibility is now in tatters, they fear that their new leader is pushing them to an “extinction level” event. One poll earlier this week suggested that the Conservatives now face a 1997-level electoral wipeout. 

One distraught Tory MP and former Cabinet Minister told Byline Times on Wednesday that Truss’ plan, and in particular her decision to scrap the top rate of tax, is causing serious damage to the party’s hard-fought reputation on the economy. “The 45p cut is really toxic," they said.

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What has particularly infuriated them is the fact that Truss' heavy focus on tax cuts for high earners has almost entirely distracted the public from the significant support the Treasury is also providing to households on energy bills.

“Colleagues are angry that the energy package has been completely overshadowed”, one Conservative MP said. “It’s huge expenditure to genuinely fix an extraordinary challenge for households and businesses and it has sunk without trace.”

Truss’ determination to push ahead with her plans, despite the many red lights flashing on the UK economic dashboard, has blindsided some of her MPs.

“There was no absolutely no pitch-rolling [for this plan],” one told Byline Times.

However, in reality, the Prime Minister's recent actions are entirely in line with the arguments she made during this summer’s leadership contest. 

For two months, Truss dismissed warnings from her rival Rishi Sunak that her plans would risk the stability of the UK economy, while insisting that the time for “hand-outs” for low earners was now over.

“To look at everything through the lens of redistribution, I believe is wrong," Truss told the BBC shortly after becoming Prime Minister, before adding that it was only “fair” that the majority of her tax cuts should go to those at the top of the income scale.

On her broadcast round this morning, Truss continued to take these lines, despite a brutal series of questions from local radio stations and their listeners.

Speaking in characteristically plodding and emotionless terms, Truss showed no sign of contrition or any indication that she plans to change course in any way. Under her current plans, the Treasury will not even re-examine its economic agenda for another eight weeks – and there was little sign this morning that this is about to change.

Brexit Ideologues Pushing Economy Over a Cliff

Conservative MPs are now hoping desperately that this is all merely bravado. They expect that, when faced with a growing crisis, the Prime Minister will inevitably be forced into a series of U-turns in order to stabilise the economy.

Maybe she will, but there is also a chance that Truss actually believes in the hardline economic ‘shock doctrine’ she is now applying.

There is a chance that, when her aides and outriders brief that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), currency traders, and the Civil Service, are all “woke” agents trying to block her glorious economic revolution, or that the whole crisis has somehow been manufactured by the Leader of the Opposition, that she actually believes it.

It is possible that the Prime Minister has become completely convinced by her own rhetoric and that, when the decision comes on whether to push the UK economy over the cliff or admit that she was wrong, she will enthusiastically do the former.

This is not as unlikely as it may seem.

Ever since the EU Referendum, the Conservative Party has committed itself to an economic and political project which even its own Government predicted would lead to the UK becoming significantly poorer. It has continued with this plan despite clear and growing evidence that it has made life and work significantly harder for businesses and individuals across the country.

In some ways, Truss' new hardline economic agenda is merely the logical end point of that process. If you believe, as Truss and her allies quite obviously do, that the UK can only prosper if it becomes a small state, low-tax, low-regulation economy, outside of the European Union, then you will be willing to take any means necessary to achieve that aim, even if it means crashing the economy.

Pushing ahead will be difficult, however. Conservative MPs are already warning that they will seek to intervene if she continues with all of the measures in last week's mini budget. One senior figure in the party predicted that there would be sizeable rebellions on their benches in the House of Commons when the Prime Minister puts her plans to a vote. The Bank of England and other institutions are also unlikely to stand by if the Government remains on its current course.

However, with Truss clinging on to the large majority she has inherited from her predecessor Boris Johnson, and with her apparent determination to ignore opposition to her plans, none of this may be enough.

Faced with similar pushback, Johnson was often criticised for his tendency to make regular U-turns. Yet as embarrassing as those U-turns were, they were also necessary to prevent his own Government, and the country, from heading towards outright disaster.

The terrifying prospect posed by the Truss premiership is that she lacks this same safety valve and that, when she insists that we all have no choice but to keep going with her reckless and dangerous economic plans, that she really does mean it.

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The price for the delusions of ‘Britannia Unchained’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/09/2022 - 5:59am in

I liked this FT article on how Truss learns the hard way that Britain isn’t America. It also partly sums up how I recoil when Labour MP’s proudly display their American (often academic) experience. For Britain is not America. Particularly and most of all when Britain has separated itself from the market on its doorstep,... Read more

The Tufton Street Elite Takes Back Control of the Brexit Project

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/09/2022 - 8:51pm in

The libertarian ideologues in Downing Street are taking a hammer to Boris Johnson’s Brexit coalition, says Sam Bright

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Seventeen million votes were cast in favour of Britain’s departure from the EU in 2016 – a seismic event that has reframed British politics, even if it was a decision taken by a minority (37.4%) of eligible voters.

Within this sprawling coalition – 3.4 million more people supported Vote Leave than voted for the Conservatives in 2019 – were a number of internal contradictions, none more so than in relation to economics.

While Brexit voters are relatively united on social issues – Lord Michael Ashcroft’s poll of more than 12,000 people in the wake of the result showed relative harmony on the subjects of immigration, multiculturalism and liberalism (shown below) – they are not as symphonic on economic questions.

Photo: Lord Ashcroft

Leave voters were almost equally split on the question of whether capitalism is a force for good or ill, with 51% opting for the latter and 49% for the former. The 2016 British Social Attitudes Survey further reinforced this, showing how 55% of the most left-wing people in Britain voted to leave the EU, little different from the 48% figure among the most right-wing people.

In popular debate, Brexit has primarily been framed as a rebellion of ‘left-behind’ voters in former industrial areas. This of course has more than a kernel of truth – and was amplified by the shock of current and former Labour areas deciding to ally with Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. However, while the ‘Red Wall’ narrative is compelling, it is an incomplete version of events. 

The south-east delivered the largest proportion of Leave voters – 15% of the national vote – and there were 4.1 million Brexit voters in London and the south-east, compared to a marginally higher 4.3 million in the north of England.

Brexit is an awkward alliance of small-state Thatcherites in the home counties who supported Brexit because they believe in the free market, and less affluent Red Wall voters who desire the state-led regeneration of their areas and local services.

As Deborah Mattinson, Keir Starmer’s director of strategy, argues in Beyond the Red Wall, Brexit promised to “bring the weaving sheds back into use in Accrington, reopen the mills, extend Darlington station, improve transport links across the whole of the north, create youth clubs and training opportunities, get us making things again. And growing things. And fishing things”.

This latter vision has, until now, been the dominant expression of Brexit in public debate and policy-making. Though the luminaries of Brexit – the likes of Daniel Hannan, Douglas Carswell and Matthew Elliott – are all disciples of a libertarian, small-state mindset, they have until now been drowned out by Boris Johnson’s interventionist rhetoric, promising “£350 million a week for the NHS”.

Johnson’s bluster and the cynical yet unifying anti-immigration tenor of the Brexit campaign, allowed him to ride the two horses, leading a critical mass of left-wing and right-wing Brexiters to water.

By contrast, the motif of Brexit among the libertarian crowd was the creation of ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ – slashing red tape and taxes in an effort to boost corporate investment, ostensibly emulating the south-east Asian nation. “If we are to thrive, our post-Brexit model should exactly be Singapore, a tiny country devoid of natural resources, but with a booming economy,” right-wing Brexiter Owen Paterson observed in November 2017.

Believing in the moral and economic superiority of free trade, these libertarian Brexiters were even relaxed on the subject of immigration. In the wake of the Johnson Government announcing a stricter, ‘points-based’ immigration system, the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), said that “by deliberately focusing on limiting low-skilled migration, the scheme is likely to have a significant negative impact on staffing levels in many industries, including the care system, construction and hospitality, especially in the short-term”.

However, as Johnson led the Leave campaign to an unlikely victory and himself into Downing Street, the libertarian ideology remained broadly in remission.

Masterminded by Dominic Cummings, the 2019 General Election provided further fuel for Johnson and his left-leaning version of Brexit, with the Prime Minister famously promising to deliver 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses and ‘level-up’ left-behind areas of the UK.

The libertarian wing, sated by Johnson’s electoral success, didn’t put up much of a fight – choosing instead to cultivate new allies. Chief among this cohort was Liz Truss, who confederated with the Tufton Street think tanks – the influential, opaquely-funded pressure groups that advocate a radical free-market ethos – during her time as International Trade Secretary.

In October 2020, Guido Fawkes reported that Truss had appointed “a swathe of free market think tankers” to her “refreshed Strategic Trade Advisory Group” – a forum of businesses and academics, which meets regularly to consider the UK’s international trade policies.

These appointments included: Mark Littlewood, the director general of the IEA; Matt Kilcoyne, former senior staff member at the Adam Smith Institute and currently a director at the Initiative for Free Trade, founded by Daniel Hannan; and Robert Colvile, director of the Centre for Policy Studies.

Hannan himself was appointed as an advisor to the Board of Trade – a commercial body within the Department for International Trade – in September 2020. His Initiative for Free Trade was formerly based at 57 Tufton Street, sharing an office with Colvile’s Centre for Policy Studies, based around the corner from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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‘Britain is Now their Laboratory’

And so, after Truss’ recent elevation to the top job, this Tufton Street elite has a new HQ – 10 Downing Street. IEA director general Littlewood told Politico that Truss had spoken at IEA events more than “any other politician over the past 12 years”, and the new Prime Minister has begun to execute the agenda of her ideological tutors.

This was on display during Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini budget’ last Friday, announcing an income tax cut for those earning more than £150,000 a year, a reversal of corporation tax and national insurance rises, cuts to stamp duty, and the introduction of low-tax, low-regulation zones across the country.

As former Downing Street advisor Tim Montgomerie said in the wake of Kwarteng’s statement, this was “a massive moment" for the IEA. "They’ve been advocating these policies for years," he wrote. "They incubated Truss and Kwarteng during their early years as MPs. Britain is now their laboratory.”

As Byline Times has previously revealed, at least five of Truss’ closest advisors are Tufton Street alumni – including her chief economic advisor – while six Cabinet ministers have links to radical right-wing lobbying groups in the US.

The economic theory behind these policies is to boost the income of supposed ‘wealth generators’ who will be able to invest and spend more – ultimately growing the size of the economy and increasing tax revenues. It is also hoped that diminished financial and bureaucratic restrictions on planning will increase the supply of homes and physical infrastructure.

This is an economic package borrowing from the most radical strain of right-wing thought; a clear departure from the Johnson era of state spending and (attempted) regional redistribution.

As a result of the tax measures outlined on Friday, the Government is effectively handing £1 billion to just 2,500 people, each of whom have an income in excess of £3.5 million. People earning £1 million a year will benefit by £55,000 a year – twice the average UK salary.

Households in London and the south-east are set to gain three times as much on average (£1,600) as those living in Wales, the north-east of England and Yorkshire (£500) next year. And a 50-year-old earning £1 million a year will have a lower marginal tax rate than a 28-year-old earning £50,000 (largely due to the latter’s student loan repayments).

Truss has even shown an affinity with the IEA’s liberal attitude to immigration, with reports over the weekend suggesting that the Prime Minister will introduce measures to incentivise the hiring of overseas workers in order to boost economic performance.

In just a fortnight, Truss and Kwarteng have dismantled the political project forged by Boris Johnson since 2016 – abandoning even the vague illusion of state redistribution promised by the former Prime Minister. Instead, the Tufton Street elite has been given the first opportunity to test its radical Singaporean theories. And we’re all the guinea pigs.

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Mitigating the ‘abacus economics’ of the Chinashop budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/09/2022 - 10:36pm in

Chancellor Kwarteng disallowed any Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) report on the impact of the budget plans, because the budget decisions were simply based on ideology. And as was shown with the OBR’s Brexit impact statement, that is not ideal if your beliefs trump evidence. So the OBR was not required to point out that... Read more

How an obscure intelligence-linked party fixed a second Brexit referendum and torpedoed Corbyn

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 25/09/2022 - 4:48am in

The pro-EU Renew party emerged from out of nowhere at the height of “Corbynmania,” pushing for a second Brexit referendum that led to the Labour leader’s demise. The intelligence backgrounds of Renew’s founders were kept under wraps – until now. When Britain’s little-remembered Renew Party officially launched in the heart of Westminster in February of 2018, its founders addressed a room of mostly empty chairs. The party’s youthful and little-known co-founder, Chris Coghlan, announced a bold pro-EU agenda centered on […]

The post How an obscure intelligence-linked party fixed a second Brexit referendum and torpedoed Corbyn appeared first on The Grayzone.

Balanced budgets are no more…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/09/2022 - 6:47am in

Today’s budget from Kwasi Kwarteng suggested that the UK needed a new approach for a new era, to break away from the vicious cycle of stagnation and low growth. Problems simply caused, let us not forget, by 12 years of Tory government. I liked this tweet: But… What Kwarteng is doing is to change abruptly... Read more

Liz Truss’ Economic Shock Doctrine Will Only Help the Richest

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/09/2022 - 10:33pm in

The Chancellor has announced a series of massive tax cuts for high earners and corporations, which have seen the pound slump and the value of Government bonds fall. Why is the Prime Minister risking turning an economic crisis into a disaster?

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“Lower taxes lead to economic growth, there’s no doubt in my mind about that", said Liz Truss ahead of her Chancellor announcing the biggest series of tax cuts for high earners in decades.

The cut to the highest rate of tax, announced by Kwasi Kwarteng this morning, will reduce the tax bill of Britain’s 600,000 highest-paid people by an average of £10,000 a year, with cuts to corporation tax and the axing of the cap on bankers’ bonuses also putting millions of pounds into the pockets of the wealthiest.

Cuts to planned corporation tax rises will also be scrapped, with big businesses offered further tax cuts inside a nationwide series of "enterprise zones". Previous plans to clamp down on tax avoidance are also being wound back.

Truss and Kwarteng are justifying this bounty for Britain’s richest by claiming that it will somehow lead to a surge in economic growth. They claim that by making the richest richer, the rest of the country will benefit.

Hardly anyone else is convinced by this. Economists have long demonstrated that the main effect of cutting taxes on high earners is that they save more of their own money, rather than re-injecting it into the economy. 'Trickle-down' economics doesn’t work when the vast majority of the money is simply gushing in the other direction.

The financial markets don’t seem convinced either. The value of the pound against the dollar slumped following the announcement. Meanwhile, the value of Government bonds has fallen the largest amount since the last economic crisis.

So does Truss’ Government really believe that any of these tax cuts will significantly stimulate growth?

The Treasury claims that these policies will allow the UK's GDP to return to 2.5% at an unspecified point in the future. However, it isn’t putting its money where its mouth is.

At every other budget since George Osborne, the Chancellor has commissioned the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to assess what their measures will do to the UK’s growth rate. This time round, Kwarteng refused to do so and his spokespeople this morning repeatedly refused to say when, if ever, they expect the Government to meet its supposed ‘aim’ of reaching 2.5% GDP.

There are other signs that Truss and Kwarteng don’t really believe in their own spin. Giving his statement to the Commons, Kwarteng said that the package would somehow benefit ordinary working people.

Yet if he was so convinced by this, why did he not ask the Treasury to present any sort of distributional impact of his policies, as is normally done by the OBR?

The answer, as Kwarteng’s spokespeople refused to confirm to Byline Times this morning, is quite obviously because he knows that such an assessment would show a massive benefit to Britain’s wealthiest people, at the expense of its poorest.

By refusing to even make an assessment of the social impact of their plans, Truss and Chancellor are essentially revealing that they no longer care about distributing the UK's wealth to those who need it most. As Kwarteng himself told the House of Commons: “For too long in this country, we have indulged in a fight over redistribution."

The truth is that by censoring an independent assessment of his plans, Kwarteng is hiding the fact that the fight over redistribution is over and that the wealthiest side has won.

None of this should come as a surprise. Truss spent the leadership contest telling Conservative Party members that she believed in low taxes and was opposed to redistributing wealth to the least well-off. Some commentators suggested that this pitch was merely designed to win over her own party and that she would quickly pivot to a more centre-ground position once she became Prime Minister.

Today’s announcement shows that those predictions were wrong. Following three years in which Boris Johnson pledged to 'level-up' the country, Truss and her Government has now all but abandoned any pretence of seeking to more fairly share the wealth of the nation.

Indeed, while Kwarteng today announced that bankers will be free to earn more in bonuses, low earners will have their Universal Credit payments cut, if they fail to increase their hours. Meanwhile workers will see their right to strike in order to win higher wages restricted.

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One might expect that such an agenda would please Truss’ Tories, as the Conservatives have traditionally presented themselves as the party of tax cuts. Yet the response to Kwarteng’s announcements this morning on the Conservative benches was incredibly muted. Privately, many Conservative MPs – a large majority of whom did not back Truss to be leader – are terrified that she is leading the UK to economic disaster.

But by engaging on this course anyway, Truss and her party are using the UK as a laboratory for the hardline right-wing economics of her closest advisors. These include senior figures from some of the most notorious, and shadily-funded, free market pressure groups in the country.

Few independent economists believe that the Government's experiment will be successful. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has already suggested that Kwarteng’s plans will lead to an unsustainable increase in the size of the Government’s budget deficit. Treasury spokespeople this morning were unable to point to a single other country which is responding to the current crisis in this same way.

Finding a motive for implementing these extraordinary measures is not easy. Giving hand-outs to the wealthiest people in the UK at a time of major recession and price rises, when Truss' own party is well behind in the polls, seems incredibly reckless – both economically and politically.

While some commentators will seek to construct an electoral logic to all of this, the only explanation that makes any sense is that it is ideological.

In her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein detailed how some governments use major crises to force through unpopular and extreme, right-wing policies, which ultimately only benefit the wealthiest and corporations. 

At the time, Klein’s thesis was dismissed by many critics as overly-simplistic. Yet it is hard to think of an alternative explanation for the radical and reckless agenda Liz Truss and her Chancellor have just unleashed on the country.

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Three Years On from ‘No Deal’ Emergency: Operation Yellowhammer is Our Reality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/09/2022 - 12:22am in

We are now living through the bleak predictions made in the Brexit contingency report in 2019, says TJ Coles

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Unaffordable food and energy bills, hours-long border queues, medicine shortages; these crises were the predicted – and predictable – consequences of a Brexit championed by successive Conservative governments and the right-wing media.

While Vladimir Putin’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine triggered the EU-wide cost of living crisis, Britain has seen some of the worst inflation in Europe – delivering on the warnings of the so-called ‘project fear’ campaign.

Operation Yellowhammer was the Theresa May Government’s secret contingency plan for the “reasonable worst case” outcome of a ‘no deal’ Brexit – in other words, the worst things that the Government anticipated in the event of failing to reach a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. After May had been replaced by Boris Johnson, a version of Yellowhammer was leaked to the Sunday Times. The Government was then compelled to release an official version, some of which was redacted. 

It was heavily disputed whether Yellowhammer was a ‘base’ scenario for a no-deal Brexit or anticipation of worst outcomes. In either case, its predictions are salient.

Before the no deal deadline, the Johnson administration cobbled together a Withdrawal Agreement, which former Chancellor Philip Hammond alleged had already been offered to May by the EU. The Johnson agreement was similar to no deal in certain respects because it left many loose ends, most notably the question of Northern Ireland and its relationship with the EU.

Moreover, if we compare Britain’s contemporary crises to Yellowhammer, it is clear that we are living the document.

Energy and Inflation

At 9.1%, Eurozone inflation is lower than the UK’s, which stands at 9.9%; among western Europe’s highest. For Britain’s closest economic competitors by GDP, inflation is as follows: France 6.5%, Germany 7.9%, and Italy 8.4%. Using France as an example, economists cite quality jobs, social security, and Government price caps as the main reasons for relative inflation control. 

Unlike in France, Britain’s measures to control inflation are likely to fall on the backs of poorer people. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies reports, in relation to the Bank of England’s decision to offset inflation with interest rate hikes: “older people with mortgages and those with lower levels of household income are more likely to be exposed to interest rate rises in the short term”.

But what’s Brexit got to do with it? In June this year, the business journal Bloomberg cited three US financial institutions: Bank of America, Citigroup, and Standard Bank. When it comes to inflation, each bank sees Britain as an “outlier in the developed world because of the economic damage wrought by the decision to cut ties with the European Union”.

Yellowhammer optimistically predicted that “Demand for energy will be met and there will be no disruption to electricity or gas interconnections”. In reality, UK energy infrastructure has proven to be more dependent upon the EU than the Government was willing to reveal. 

The Financial Times recently reported that the consultancy firm Baringa estimated that “Hundreds of millions of pounds are being added to UK energy bills because of the failure to implement a trade deal with the EU that would allow efficient movement of power via subsea cables”.

Duncan Sinclair of Baringa says: “A side effect of Brexit is a temporary step backwards in the way electricity flows between us and our neighbours. The system is now less efficient – leading to higher costs – at a time when concerns around rising costs and energy security are paramount.”

This was echoed by Sir Philip Lowe – an executive chair at the World Energy Council and the former director-general for energy at the European Commission – in an interview with Byline Times a year ago. “The EU’s long-term strategy, which the UK was very much in favour of, was to integrate markets as far as possible across Europe,” said Lowe. However, while the EU plans to integrate further, the UK has extracted itself from this policy through Brexit, while an energy agreement was not included in the free trade deal between the UK and the EU.

By EU standards, Britain has been notable for having low food prices. Yet, since Brexit, that has all changed. By July, UK food prices were up 12.6% compared to the previous year – something predicted by Yellowhammer, particularly for poorer people. 

A London School of Economics (LSE) study notes that two-thirds of international trade is in intermediate products used domestically, such as vegetable oil and animal feed.

Brexit caused a shortfall in imports from EU member states and, as they readjust to trading with non-EU markets, businesses have been stockpiling, which causes artificial scarcity and thus price rises. Between the end of 2019 and 2021, Brexit-induced EU trade barriers added 6% to food prices. Despite what the Government has otherwise claimed, the LSE report concludes: “COVID-19 is ruled out as a factor”.

Indeed, Yellowhammer even took into account the potential for a health crisis to compound the problems suffered through a hard Brexit – stating that “seasonal flu” and “severe weather” were both potential risks. The implication was that a severe outbreak or even pandemic should have been incorporated into Brexit planning.

Medicine and Border Delays

“The reliance of medicines and medical products’ supply chains on the short straits crossing make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays”, said Yellowhammer, referring to Dover-Calais and other key ports.

Leaked data from the Department of Health and Social Care in 2020 listed 209 medical products that had supply problems in the previous year; more than half of which were in short supply for more than three months. Drugs such as hepatitis vaccines and anti-epileptic drugs, faced ‘extended’ problems.

Now, with Brexit supposedly ‘done’ and the pandemic supposedly over, what is the state of UK medicine?

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in July that it would be monitoring potential medicine and product shortages caused by supply chain issues. But, as the EMA announced the need to monitor, the UK had already experien

ced shortages. Over the previous six months, more than 700 pharmacists had experienced patients being put in danger by medicine shortages. 

In August, Mike Dent of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned about medicine supply issues and the very serious impact this is having on both community pharmacy teams and their patients.”

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Hospitals had been advised to stockpile, patients had to search multiple pharmacies for drugs, and doctors expressed concern about using alternatives.

Yellowhammer likewise predicted that “UK citizens travelling to and from the EU may be subject to increased immigration checks at EU border posts”.

Since Brexit, Dover-Calais queues have become notoriously long, affecting hauliers and holiday-makers. Ferry operator, DFDS, recently said: “Calais was affected by ‘the perfect storm’ of summer volumes in combination with post-Brexit border checks, causing six hours of queuing”.

While new Prime Minister Liz Truss was quick to blame France for failing to streamline passport controls, other analyses point the finger at Brexit.

Truss will try to score political points among the Conservative Party’s pro-Brexit voter base by blaming the EU for everything while being obstinate with her European counterparts. This will be sold by the right-wing media to the public as Truss taking a ‘tough stance’.

A common anti-Labour attack line is that the party would take Britain ‘back to the 1970s’, were it to take office. But now it is the Conservative Party that is reviving the age of strikes, power outages, and civil disobedience – all predicted years ago by Yellowhammer.

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The UK is not North Korea but..

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/09/2022 - 6:10am in

I am not suggesting that the two are equivalent. But it is nonetheless both arresting and disturbing to hear the North Korean BBC commentary simply overlaid on our current events: While I’m a republican at heart, I really do not think we have to bother too much with the titular head of state – for... Read more

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