Liz Truss ...
First came the Japan deal, which the Japanese had basically given the UK until the end of July to sign. It was not as good a deal as the UK enjoyed through being an EU member state. Then came lots of optimistic noises as an alleged breakthrough was briefed to pro-Government newspapers like the Murdoch Sun. But that signature was not applied to the agreement by the end of July. This has one clear consequence.
There will be disruption to trade after the end of the year, because the Japanese Parliament will not have had time to pass any deal signed after their deadline. Worse, we still don’t know when the deal will be ready for signing, as the serially inept Liz Truss has chosen Stilton cheese as her hill to die on. The Japanese, who don’t consume much of the stuff anyway, are not budging on tariffs. And now has come the US - and whisky.
Once again, Ms Truss has briefed the more compliant part of the press - on this occasion, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph - but once again, she has failed to think through how she plans to proceed. Hence the Tel telling readers “Truss vows to fight US over tariffs on ‘jewel in the crown’ whisky”. First, the backstory.
“In October the US won a ruling allowing it to pile £5.7 billion of tariffs on imports from the EU as part of a 15-year-old battle between Airbus and Boeing … Last week the US said ti would drop tariffs on shortbread, and also drop the threat of tariffs on gin, sparkling wine and blended whisky, but it would not shift on single malt Scotch”. Over to Ms Truss.
... and an industry she appears to have forgotten about
“From Jan 1 we’ll be an independent trading nation once again, with our own tariff régime, and will be able to take direct control of this … [the EU] failed to stand up for British interests - and Scottish interests in particular - and made little progress towards resolving an issue that should have been sorted years ago”. Ri-i-i-i-ight.
I hate to be the bringer of bad news, and to rain on this latest victory parade, but, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the USA is going to take a trading bloc whose population is larger than their own rather more seriously than one whose population is a mere fraction of their own. And then comes the rather more important Two.
The only way the UK can avoid being part of the dispute between Airbus and Boeing is if it does not have any skin in that particular game. But it does: Airbus’s presence in the UK, where wings for its aircraft are built, involves 13,000 employees and supports a further 140,000 jobs in the wider aerospace economy. Is Liz Truss saying Airbus may no longer have a UK presence? Because that’s the only way out of that tariff dispute.
Once again, Bozo’s inept ministers fail to do their homework, and once again, the fawning client journalist class give them a free pass. And that’s not good enough.
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