In which we conclude that Simon Jenkins is an idiot

An island nation must trade with its nearest mainland, whatever our new Brexit opportunities minister claims

OK. Well, maybe. But whatever.

Whitehall also refuses to curb imports of European pork – which now makes up 60% of the UK market and rising.

Man’s a loon. The imports are the benefit of trade…..

15 thoughts on “In which we conclude that Simon Jenkins is an idiot”

  1. An island nation must trade with its nearest mainland, whatever our new Brexit opportunities minister claims

    How much legal trade does Cuba do with the USA then?

    As for the Europeans, sure we’ll still trade where it makes sense, but if they make their own goods more expensive, we’ll substitute it from elsewhere that is cheaper, for example replacing French wine with Chilean, Californian, Australian, South African equivelent.

    I love French food and wine, so I suspect that I will keep on buying it even if costs rise, but there is a price point where I’ll start buying cheaper equivalents from elsewhere.

    I campaigned for BRExit and I’m fairly happy with where we are right now. I have no grudge against the continentals (EU dictatorcrats aside) and have no issue continuing to buy European goods and even paying a premium to do so if I have to.

  2. John, that sounds dangerously like you are exercising ‘freedom of choice’ I don’t think that’ll go down well with our lords and masters.

  3. I’m getting fed up with OpEd writers and other random gobshites increasingly using the nannyish “must” for their particular hobby horses. We all MUST eat our greens/not eat our meat or dairy/scrap the car/turn down the heating/live like a 14th C peasant, for our own/the planet’s good. Oh fuck off! If you ask me nicely I’ll consider it (except for the 14th C peasantry bit), but don’t tell me I *must* do something.

  4. His 60% figure appears to come from a 2017 article from the British Meat Processors Association which says:
    The UK is a net importer of pig meat, currently importing around 60 per cent of all the pork it consumes. Import levels have fluctuated slightly over recent years – since falling back in 2012, they have been increasing steadily year on year. Denmark is the dominant supplier, accounting for over a quarter of all UK pork imports. Together with Germany and the Netherlands, they account for 60 per cent of imports. The EU supplies virtually all the pork imported into the UK, due to the high import tariffs on pork from elsewhere.
    That’s fab – so if the UK wants to change that they don’t need to simultaneously change the regs in 27 other countries.

  5. John, that sounds dangerously like you are exercising ‘freedom of choice’ I don’t think that’ll go down well with our lords and masters.

    Yup. The Remoaners seem to think that Brexiteers are all knuckle dragging Nazis or boring golf-club racists, which I’ve never personally found to be the case. For the most part they want a future for their children and not to be forced to accept unBritish legislation from the EU.

    So, “Freedom of choice” comes pretty natural to that constituency. More so than the patronising intolerance of the Remoaners.

  6. “An island nation must trade with its nearest mainland”

    Well, we do, don’t we? Waitrose sells Cognac, and the last time I checked, you can only produce that in France.

    If he means that we should heavily or majority trade with its nearest mainland, well, no. Ireland’s largest trading partner is the USA, by over double the next nearest one. Most of Ireland’s exports are outside the EU, not inside.

    I believe that many remoaners simply do not get what we trade in, in 2022. They’re still stuck in the 1980s when we were shipping low value goods like beef. We export more whisky than all livestock and dairy products combined. And when you’re producing whisky, physical distance doesn’t matter that much. It matters even less if you’re producing packets of pills, and even less still if you’re Rockstar Games selling software over the internet.

    No-one at the manufacturing company I worked in thought about physical distance. They were selling units that cost many thousands each, which also had support services to go with them, so who cares about £30 to the EU or £50 to the USA?

  7. That Simon Jenkins is an idiot is a given. Never been anything else.
    On the free-trade thing, sure the benefits of trade are the imports. But with trading with the EU, you’re trading with a block sees trade as an economic & political weapon. Accept the goods & you have to accept what comes along with them. It’s not understanding this that results in the UK having an unusable surplus of pigs with no-one to slaughter them whilst still importing the majority of its pork from the EU.
    I put it down to the public school mentality of so many of the people who run the country, cricket & the notion of “fair play”. That’s not even default in sport outside of public school playing fields. The point is to win, manipulating the rules to do so. Or ignoring them if you can’t. That’s the game Brussels plays. It’s the only game there is.
    Pork production was a card on the table the UK neglected to play. So it loses this hand.

  8. No-one at the manufacturing company I worked in thought about physical distance. They were selling units that cost many thousands each, which also had support services to go with them, so who cares about £30 to the EU or £50 to the USA?

    He’s misunderstanding that whole “gravity of trade” argument (deliberately or not), which comes down to two things:
    1. How easy is it to ship goods to Country-X?
    2. How much does it cost to ship to Country-X?

    Now, sure, historically it would have been far easier and cheaper to move goods that shortest distance to our continental neighbours rather than out trans-Atlantic cousins, the exceptions being goods that grow in one, but not the other.

    When you’re talking about container traffic and electronic customs though, it all becomes a bit moot. Once you’ve got the container packed and the electronic customs documentation complete then it’s as easy to send a container to Sydney as it is to send it to Amsterdam or Calais, the differential cost per unit on shipping being essentially a rounding error.

    So yes, he’s talking bollocks.

  9. John Galt,

    “As for the Europeans, sure we’ll still trade where it makes sense, but if they make their own goods more expensive, we’ll substitute it from elsewhere that is cheaper, for example replacing French wine with Chilean, Californian, Australian, South African equivelent.”

    I’ve already replaced most of my French with Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. Apart from the higher labour costs in France, you’re paying quite serious money for the word “Burgundy” on the label. I reckon a £15 Chilean Pinot Noir is now better than a £20 Burgundy. Graham Beck sparkling from South Africa (in many supermarkets) is my go to Shampagne.

  10. For pig farmers, we can read apple growers, flower producers, fishing fleets, road hauliers, house builders, medicine suppliers, care home managers – a whole range of workers on the frontline of Britain’s economy. All have benefited in the past from the open market in European labour. All must now lobby Whitehall for permits, visas, waivers and, if not, compensation.

    Good. If your business model depends on cheap, taxpayer subsidised migrant labour, your business model sucks and you deserve bankruptcy. Learn to code guys.

  11. @John Galt
    Jenkins is an idiot because he doesn’t understand the history of his own country. The UK became a great country on trade. Much more so than its larger European neighbours. It’s trade partners were sometimes half way around the planet because they were easier & more profitable to trade with than those European neighbours. It’s been there & done that. The past 50 years have been an aberration, more for political than economic reasons. Now it’s going back to business as normal. Sure, it’s got some short term problems decoupling from the EU misadventure. To be expected. Unfortunately, I don’t suppose the people running the place are much lesser idiots than Jenkins.

  12. “The reason is that abattoirs lack the staff to process them, largely due to Britain’s exit from the pan-European labour market. ”

    He means they can’t find people willing to work for the pay offered, except those from far-eastern Europe.
    Y’know.. those peeps “keeping brits out of a job” before Brexit.

    And the idiots are pretending as if trade has all but ceased.. It hasn’t, never has, never will.
    And if trade becomes expensive enough …well… both sides on the North Sea have always had enough entrepeneurial Thradithion to ..avoid Red Tape and Excise..
    That, too, is a function of that thing called “Market”..

  13. “An island nation must trade with its nearest mainland”: Japan spent centuries disobeying that imperative. It tried pretty hard not to trade with anyone. Anyhoo, all our mainlands are islands too – the earth’s surface is mainly water.

    I suspect that if he told Singapore to trade mainly with Malaysia they’d laugh at him.

  14. Just how do these idiots think Britain got an Empire – it wasn’t through military conquest?

    Britain grew rich by trading with Countries/Continents far away – particularly when trade with Europe was limited because of hostilities and restrictions – and Britain’s trade only became dominated by Europe by joining the EEC and thereby stupidly cutting off/restricting trade with former Empire & Commonwealth and USA.

  15. This is fun. Jamaica’s main trading partner should be Honduras? Japan -> South Korea? New Zealand -> Singapore? Iceland -> Norway?

    And the favourite: Cyprus -> Turkey ?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *