In a May 2016 speech to the Food and Drink Federation, she warned delegates that voting to leave the EU would badly hit the interests of businesses in the hospitality industry - as well as the wider economy - and ultimately make Britons poorer.
"I do think it's in all of our interests to communicate the real impact on the ground; the real impact this would have on jobs, livelihoods because what we now is less trade would mean fewer investments, it would mean fewer jobs and that would feed through to people's incomes," she told the assembled audience.
"And that just doesn't affect me and you in this room, that affects everyone in the overall economy. So even if you're in a company that doesn't export, the company that does export will be buying less of your services and I think that's a message we really need to get across in the closing weeks of this campaign."
She added: "But I have great faith in the British people; I think the British people are sensible people [and] they understand fundamentally that, economically, Britain will be better off staying in a reformed EU."
The following month Ms Truss tweeted that “Leave cannot name one country we would get a better trade deal with if we left the EU,” as both sides put forward their economic arguments ahead of the 23 June vote
A senior EU official has said she does not expect the bloc to strike a migration deal with the UK because of disputes over the Brexit agreement.
Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs, said EU member states had “limited” appetite for an agreement with the UK to manage asylum seekers and migrants, citing concerns over the post-Brexit trade deal and the Northern Ireland protocol.
Instead, she said, the focus should be on “practical cooperation” to curb attempts by people to cross the channel from France, such as police cooperation and intelligence sharing.
She was speaking before EU and UK negotiators clashed last week over the future of the Irish protocol, the agreement that keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market, which the UK government wants to rewrite. Her comments underscore how the dispute over the protocol is damaging wider EU-UK relations, underlining the task facing the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who took over the Brexit brief on Sunday, following the shock resignation of David Frost.
The protocol dispute also means, for example, that British scientists remain locked out of the EU’s €95.5 bn Horizon research funding programme.
Speaking to the Guardian and other European newspapers, Johansson said: “We have quite some concerns with the implementation of the TCA [Trade and Cooperation Agreement] and the protocol on Northern Ireland right now, so I should guess that the appetite from member states to go into negotiations for a new agreement [on migration] … is limited.”
Last month 27 people drowned in the Channel trying to reach the UK from Calais, with record numbers attempting the perilous journey. The tragedy prompted an agreement between north-western European countries to toughen up action against people smugglers, although the Priti Patel, the home secretary, was disinvited from a meeting because of a Franco-British row about how to handle the issue.
Johansson stressed it was important to cooperate with the UK to tackle migrant smuggling networks operating in Germany, Belgium and France to take people to Dover. “I think the most important thing is to find practical cooperation with the UK on these topics and we have to work together on this. I think that should come first before discussing any new formal mandate for negotiating a new agreement.”
Her view contrasts with the French government, which is seeking a broader EU-UK agreement to deal with people heading to northern France seeking to reach British shores. France’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin has said France will push for a EU-UK migration treaty when taking over the bloc’s rotating presidency on 1 January. “We need to negotiate a treaty, since [the former EU negotiator] Mr [Michel] Barnier did not do so when he negotiated Brexit.”
EU member states did not discuss the Channel at a meeting earlier this month on tackling irregular migration, instead focusing on the situation at the Poland-Belarus border, where people from the Middle East have been trapped in desperate conditions, having arrived in Minsk.
The EU commissioner spoke to the home secretary last week, in what EU officials described as a “short and constructive call” where the two agreed “on the need to act in a determined fashion to address the growing phenomenon of migrants crossing the Channel, and that the priority should be to focus on practical, operational cooperation”.
Home Office sources gave a similar account of the call, stressing the need for urgent, collaborative and practical action.
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Allies of Truss said that the minister had made clear that she had changed her mind and would vote leave if she had the chance again. Her stint as international trade secretary, before becoming foreign secretary, had demonstrated her credentials as a free marketeer and free trader, they added.
Government warned some businesses will collapse from extra red tape in 2022
Full post-Brexit customs controls coming into force on New Year’s Day are likely to cause “significant disruption” and could see some British businesses collapse, trade and logistics chiefs have warned.
The government has been told that lorries could be delayed or refused entry to ports because many UK firms are unprepared for the extra red tape and costs required to import goods from the EU from 1 January.
Small business owners told The Independent they are still struggling to understand the new customs declarations, rules-of-origin checks and relevant tariffs – with one calling the guidance issued by the government “mumbo jumbo”.
UK companies must make customs declarations for goods imported from the EU from 1 January 2022, following the introduction of export declarations at the beginning of 2021.
But it’s not the only major change due to take place at the end of the grace period – British importers and exporters will have to provide extra paperwork required for food, drink and products of animal origin to avoid tariffs and get a reduced rate of customs duty.
The Federation of Small Businesses said some small traders don’t have the time or money to adjust to the new red tape, and warned that only one in four small British importers are prepared for the changes.
“We have seen some small businesses fold because of the changes which have come in already after Brexit,” said James Sibley, head of international affairs at the group. “It’s possible some small businesses won’t be able to deal with the new changes and will have to wind up.”
David Thomas, co-founder of organic gin company Jin Talog, is worried about the extra paperwork needed to import juniper berries and alcohol from the EU. He fears he may have to pay higher duties on alcohol, as well as extra fees to a customs agent.
“It’s so frustrating. We can’t pass on extra costs to our customers, because we’ve already lost orders in the EU from all the changes that came in earlier this year,” said Mr Thomas.
“The government told us Brexit was done – but it’s barely even started. I know a lot of small businesses struggling to survive with all the red tape since Brexit.”
Maurice Greig, co-owner of fashion business The Greig & Greig Partnership, is still unsure whether he needs to fill out new rules-of-origin forms for the leather products – made in the UK – that he exports to the EU.
“The advice on the government website is mumbo jumbo – it’s just not clear,” he said. “I’ve made enquiries and attended seminars about whether I need new certificates of origin, and nobody seems to know. The answer seems to be, ‘You might, you might not.’”
Mr Greig said he fears losing customers in Europe because of the extra paperwork and potential hold-ups. “I’ve spoken to other businesses and they’re worried about losing customers too. It’s a disaster. It’s bound to cause chaos next year.”
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) predicts the knock-on impact of the changes will cause disruption at ports similar to that in January 2021.
“These changes have the potential to cause significant disruption,” said Rod McKenzie, the RHA’s director of policy. “If their forms are not correct, you will see lorries fail customs checks and not be allowed to board ferries.”
He added: “I’m sure trucks will be pulled up. I’m sure loads will be turned back. We could see queues away from the border while paperwork is checked. It’s difficult to know the extent of disruption. There will be some friction that will take some time to work through.”
Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), said he was “alarmed” that so many small importers appeared to be unprepared for the changes coming next month. The logistics chief urged UK firms to “appoint a specialist to deal with import and export declarations”.
The FSB said many small traders are unaware of the complexity of the evidence required for rules-of-origin forms, but cannot afford to pay a customs agent or freight forwarder to help sort out the red tape.
“If you’re not set up properly you could find your shipment confiscated, or severely delayed, which then affects your reputation with customers,” said Mr Sibley. “Some small traders may find they can’t afford the admin costs, so they can no longer import. For some it could mean their business model just doesn’t work anymore.”
MPs and peers on the cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission have called on the government to relaunch the financial support fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hit by post-Brexit red tape – a scheme which closed in June.
Labour told The Independent that the government had “not given businesses the support they need to prepare” for the changes coming on 1 January.
“Ministers need to get a grip of this situation, and provide the support and guidance required to complete the new paperwork, even at this late stage,” said Nick Thomas-Symonds, shadow minister for international trade. “Otherwise, once again, people will be paying the price of Conservative incompetence.”
A government spokesperson said: “Overall trader readiness for the introduction of import controls is strong. The government is also on track to deliver new systems, infrastructure and resourcing needed for these controls.
“We have been running a targeted campaign across print, radio and online to signpost businesses to the relevant information – and officials across government are leading a series of sector-based webinars to help traders and hauliers get ready.”
The imperial measurement for the fizzy booze is being pedalled by ministers and vintners alike, with Liz Truss reviewing “hangover” EU laws after taking over from former Brexit minister Lord Frost who resigned last week. Before joining the EU in 1973 and adopting the ban on the glass container, as well as other uses of imperial measurements, it is thought 60 percent of all champagne sold in the country was in imperial pint-sized bottles.
On New Year’s Day the UK will have been fully out of the European Union for a year: out of its political and legal structures, out of its single market, out of its customs union.
This was what Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – who led the Leave campaign – had wanted. No awkward halfway house like Theresa May had negotiated. No Brexit light. Out completely. Gone. Brexit well and truly done.
It was only with a clean break, they told us, that the UK could unleash its full potential, and wrestle free from the chains of EU regulation and bureaucracy.
Liberated, we could take back control of our borders, our money, our laws. We could look outwards to the world in a new age of discovery, striking trade deals far away from the EU, creating fresh levels of prosperity for Global Britain.
So a year on, how is it all going?
The resignation last weekend of Lord Frost, the minister overseeing Brexit, gave a clue that all was not entirely well. “Brexit is now secure … the challenge for the government now is to deliver on the opportunities it gives us. You know my concerns about the current direction of travel,” Frost told the prime minister in his resignation letter.
There are suggestions from some in government that Frost – a Brexit purist and fanatical deregulator – came to suspect Johnson had no real plan, no real detailed idea of how to make Brexit work beyond slogans and soundbites.
He was also frustrated at the deadlock over Northern Ireland. A year into Brexit proper the UK is still at loggerheads with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol that Frost and Johnson themselves negotiated and hailed as a good way to solve difficult border problems, as part of the withdrawal agreement.
Whatever issues were riling Frost the most, delivering on Brexit promises is proving a lot harder than making them had been.
What is clear is that, initially at least, Brexit is making us poorer. It has contributed to labour shortages in many business sectors as EU workers have returned home.
There are grievances that run deep in specific sectors that were promised much and got almost nothing. Fishermen feel betrayed. Farmers are uncertain that a replacement subsidy and payments regime will be all it is being cracked up to be. Small businesses which export to the EU have been hit by extra costs and paperwork.
The extent of economic damage from Brexit has been made clear by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which predicts that leaving the EU will reduce our long-term GDP by around 4%, compared to a fall of around 1.5% that will be caused by the pandemic.
Rather than boosting our trade, Brexit is holding it back. Goods exports were down 14% year on year in the third quarter of 2021 according to the Office for National Statistics, with both exports to the EU and non-EU destinations suffering.
According to the Food and Drink Federation, UK exports of food and drink are down £2.7bn (-15.9%) in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is largely due to a drop in sales to the EU of £2.4bn (-23.7%) resulting from new barriers to trade with the EU and the ongoing effects of the Covid pandemic.
And this is before new rules on imports from the EU will be implemented in January, which business leaders say will lead to further falls and delays. Then food products from the EU will face extra physical inspections from the summer.
Disentangling precisely what has been caused by the pandemic and what is the result of Brexit is difficult. For Johnson the coincidence of Covid and Brexit has proved convenient in one sense, shielding him from blame and obscuring the picture. But economists broadly agree that the long term economic hit from Brexit will be far greater than from the pandemic.
Another central promise of the Leave campaign was that the UK would take back control of its borders. But in a year of tragic loss of lives in the Channel, and unseemly arguments between the French and the UK over who is to blame, that claim has looked utterly hollow. Refugees living in northern France have said Brexit has made it easier and more attractive for them to reach the UK in small boats, not less.
Refugees who have fled conflict zones including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Eritrea have told journalists that the fact that the UK is no longer part of the EU makes it more worthwhile risking the dangerous crossings because they could no longer be sent back to other European countries.
Asked how Brexit has gone so far, Charles Grant, director of the thinktank the Centre for European Reform says that, ironically, the most obvious post-Brexit negotiating successes for the Johnson government have been in areas where it has managed to stay close to the EU, not move away – such as the “rolling over” of EU trade deals. These have included agreements “rolled over” with Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey and South Korea which have become bilateral ones with the UK. The only entirely new trade deal is that recently signed with Australia. The UK, he says, has also managed to secure agreement over flow of data with the EU, though this could soon be under threat as we seek to weaken privacy rules.
In other areas, Grant says the UK has been weakened, particularly in its influence and power on the European and world stages.
“Lord Frost refused to have any form of structured relationship on foreign and defence policy post-Brexit with the EU – though the EU wanted one – and we are paying a very heavy price as a result,” he says.
“We lack intelligence about what is happening in the EU because we don’t have any regular system of meetings with people in Brussels. We can’t influence what is going on because we are not in the room. On issues such as Russia, China and climate issues the British – even outside the EU – could have a degree of influence because we have good people and real expertise.”
Joël Reland, researcher at the independent thinktank UK in a Changing Europe, has worked on a “divergence tracker” which has looked at the extent to which the UK has succeeded in breaking free and replacing EU rules with its own, as Johnson promised.
What he has found is a lack of divergence in many areas and an absence of a plan.“The main message is that the UK has been talking a big game on divergence. Frost has spoken repeatedly about the long dark years of EU membership and the need for change to free up growth and innovation but it has just not been followed through. If you look at the most significant policy changes in the budget or the net zero strategy there is very little that could not have been done inside the EU.”
Reland says that in agriculture, city regulation, and areas such as green taxation and fintech, new ideas and progress on divergence are evident but in big areas such VAT little or nothing has happened. “There is no joined up thinking on divergence strategy across government,” he says.
The reason he says is that while replacing all EU regulation sounds neat, in practice it is complex and costly for business.
“I think the UK is finding that it is really difficult to develop and there is more bureaucracy rather than less once you try to change everything,” he says. “The cost of getting all UK companies stamped with a UK mark rather than an EU mark … it is not worth the cost.”
Our latest Opinium poll shows that over 60% of people now think Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected. It also found that 42% of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit had turned out so far
Getting Brexit done was the easy bit. Proving it was worth it and for the good, is turning out to be far more difficult.
More than six out of 10 voters believe Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected – a year after the UK left the EU, according to an anniversary poll for the Observer.
The Opinium survey – coming a week after the minister in charge of Brexit, Lord Frost, resigned from Boris Johnson’s government – also found that 42% of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit had turned out so far.
26% of Leave supporters said it had gone worse than they expected, while 16% of those who voted for Brexit said they had expected it to go badly and had been proved right.
Among people who voted Remain, 86% said it had gone badly or worse than they expected. Overall, just 14% of all voters said Brexit had gone better than expected.
Adam Drummond, of Opinium, said the most striking finding was that Leavers were now more hesitant about the virtues of Brexit than previously.
“For most of the Brexit process any time you’d ask a question that could be boiled down to ‘is Brexit good or bad?’ you’d have all of the Remainers saying ‘bad’ and all of the Leavers saying ‘good’ and these would cancel each other out,” he said.
“Now what we’re seeing is a significant minority of Leavers saying that things are going badly or at least worse than they expected. While 59% of Remain voters said, ‘I expected it to go badly and think it has’, only 17% of Leave voters said, ‘I expected it to go well and think it has’.
“Only 7% of Remainers think Brexit has gone better than expected versus 26% of Leavers saying it has gone worse than expected. So instead of two uniformly opposing blocs, the Remain bloc are still mostly united on Brexit being bad while the Leave bloc are a bit more split.”
The poll comes ahead of the introduction on 1 January of full customs checks on goods being exported from the EU to the UK, which business leaders believe could deter some smaller operators – such as food exporters – from supplying UK retailers as their costs and paperwork increase. These will be followed by more checks on food imports from mid-summer.
Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said he expected many of the problems faced over the past year by small UK businesses exporting to the EU, particularly the rising cost of sending small amounts because of new charges, would now confront those sending small specialist consignments the other way, from the EU to the UK.
He warned that this could lead to less availability of specialist food products from the continent arriving in UK shops. “Small traders have a choice, find a way to send more less often, or don’t send it at all,” Brennan said. “For lots of businesses you can’t justify sending a lorry load of fresh food a day or week and so you won’t do it. The net result is less variety, less fresh, quality specialist goods on the shelf, from outside the UK anyway.”
His fears were echoed by Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation, who said: “As new trade barriers are introduced, it is inevitable that businesses will experience issues at the border. In some cases, this could result in significant barriers that risk blocking deliveries from EU suppliers altogether, at least temporarily, while businesses adjust to the new requirements or restructure their supply chains.
“For just-in-time supply chains, this presents a real risk which could disrupt the operation of UK supply chains where a critically important ingredient is delayed or fails to arrive. Such delays could also lead to other ingredients already at factories being unusable.”
Brexit job shortages have hit Donald Trump’s golf resorts in Scotland, their latest accounts reveal.
Accounts filed for the former US president’s golf course Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire by trading company Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd show the UK leaving the EU caused problems for the site.
The accounts, signed by director Eric Trump state: “Brexit has also impacted our business as supply chains have been impacted by availability of drivers and staff, reducing deliveries and availability of certain product lines.
“Prices have increased from additional freight and import duty charges.
“Staff availability has been a challenge from a combination of wage inflation with retail and logistics sectors increasing wages to attract staff due to increased business levels.
“Directly, the staffing pool has been reduced with lack of access to European staff for businesses in general resulting in greater demand for individuals previously available to the resort.”
On a visit to Trump Turnberry the day after the EU referendum vote in 2016, Donald Trump said people had taken “their country back”. He later wrongly claimed to have predicted the result, saying he visited the day before the referendum.
Brexit job shortages have also hit Mr Trump’s resort at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire
Accounts filed by Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd said: “Brexit has also impacted business, as supply chains are disrupted and the labour market is reduced.
“Transportation, freight and import duty charges are also increasing, along with the overall cost of goods rising.”
A “lack of skilled labour in the sector” combined with rising inflation was said to be affecting cost and pricing.
The 2020 accounts for both resorts, filed on Christmas Eve, along with government data, show they claimed more than £3 million through the UK Government’s furlough scheme, but redundancies were made at Turnberry.
More than £2.3 million in furlough cash was claimed at Turnberry, with £451,770 claimed at Trump International at Balmedie.
The BBC reported a subsidiary of the company, SLC Turnberry Ltd, made further furlough claims of between £435,000 and £1.1 million from January to August 2021, according to Government data not included in the published accounts.
Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd paid out £324,000 for redundancies in 2020, with staff falling to a monthly average of 289 from 541 the previous year.
The accounts state: “The grant proceeds were utilised by the group in order to support the maintenance of jobs for many of the group’s employees while the resort was closed or at a reduced capacity due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic during the year.”
Employee numbers at Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd also fell, from an average of 84 in 2019 to 63 in 2020.
Only one of the 27 EU countries has agreed a deal to rescue post-Brexit music tours despite Boris Johnson’s vow to ‘fix’ ‘the crisis, an industry group is protesting.
The prime minister made the pledge under pressure 9 months ago – but only Spain has signed an agreement since, leaving artists drowning in expensive “mountains of red tape”.
Now the Incorporated Society of Musicians is urging Liz Truss, the new Brexit minister, to reject the hardline approach of her predecessor, David Frost, which failed to make “progress”.
“All the problems first identified as facing the creative sector due to the TCA [the Brexit trade deal] still remain,” says a letter to the foreign secretary.
In an article for The Independent, the opera singer Sarah Connolly describes the bleak situation facing touring artists as “a seeping, pallid, undercooked, slippery slop”.[...]
The trade deal saw the UK – as The Independent revealed – reject an EU offer to retain visa and permit-free tours, breaking a promise made to music organisations last year.
In March, Mr Johnson, confronted with the severe problems obtaining paperwork to perform and to transport equipment across EU borders, told MPs: “We must fix it.”
But Lord Frost – the minister he put in charge – appeared to wash his hands of the crisis and refused to say it would be resolved, before quitting the cabinet.
Ministers were then attacked, including by Elton John, for wrongly claiming 21 of the 27 EU countries are offering visa and work permit-free access, when severe restrictions still exist in almost all of them.
In its letter, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), representing 11,000 members, urges Ms Truss to switch tack and kickstart negotiations with EU states, while still calling for a visa waiver deal with Brussels.
“The sector is now facing mountains of red tape, which is both costly and time-consuming,” warns Deborah Annetts, its chief executive.
“The proposed solutions such as bilateral agreements with EU states have not materialised apart from with Spain and there are serious issues with cabotage, carnets and designated ports.
“All these issues are adversely impacting the UK music industry and the broader creative industries, which is worth £116bn per annum, the same as finance or construction.”
To add the anger, Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, quickly claimed credit for the Spain deal, allowing UK musicians to work for 90 out of 180 days.
The exclusive Savanta survey for The Independent reveals that, on issues ranging from the economy to red tape to Britain’s ability to control its borders, more voters believe Brexit has worsened the UK’s position than improved it.
Almost six out of 10 (57 per cent) believe Boris Johnson lied to them about what Brexit would be like during the bitter referendum campaign of 2016.
And by a clear margin, they said that the Remain campaign’s forecasts of damage to the economy and increased red tape from Brexit have proved more accurate than the Leave campaign’s promises, such as the claim on Mr Johnson’s bus that EU withdrawal would deliver £350m a week for the NHS.
By a slim majority of 51 to 49 per cent respondents said that if they could vote again, they would opt to rejoin the EU – with younger voters hugely more enthusiastic than the old for renewed membership.
More than half of those questioned (51 per cent) want a referendum on rejoining at some point, with 39 per cent saying it should come in the next five years, compared to just 32 per cent who say the issue should never be reopened.
The figures represent a significant blow to Mr Johnson’s claim – central to his platform at the last election – that EU withdrawal would deliver a boost to Britain and encourage a new spirit of confidence, optimism and unity.
In a message released today to mark the anniversary, the prime minister said that his Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU had allowed UK companies to “seize new trading opportunities” around the world and freed the government to establish a regulatory regime suited to British interests.
However, the bulk of the 70 trade deals which he hailed as a benefit of Brexit were no more than “rollover” agreements maintaining arrangements which the UK already enjoyed as an EU member, while government figures suggest that others with Australia and New Zealand will boost GDP by only a tiny fraction of 1 per cent, compared to the 4 per cent loss expected from leaving the EU.
Other benefits claimed by Mr Johnson included a faster Covid vaccine rollout, the introduction of a points-based immigration system, simplification of alcohol duties, the abolition of the Tampon Tax and the restoration of the crown stamp on the side of pint glasses.
Promising to “maximise the benefits of Brexit so that we can thrive as a modern, dynamic and independent country”, he added: “The job isn’t finished and we must keep up the momentum.
“In the year ahead my government will go further and faster to deliver on the promise of Brexit and take advantage of the enormous potential that our new freedoms bring.”
The Crown stamp has always been on pint glasses.
There was nothing to restore.
The Leave.EU group – founded by businessman Arron – had moved its website registration from the UK to the Republic of Ireland at the end of 2020 in a bid to get round a rule stating that .eu addresses can only be used by individuals and organisations based in the EU.
But an investigation by EURid led to the domain name being given “withdrawn” status, with the EU agency citing the failure to respond to data verification requests.
The website has now been revoked – with visitors to the web page greeted with the error message: “This site can’t be reached.”
However, the Leave.EU group now has a website using a UK domain name, leaveeuofficial.com.
Anyone who has EU residency or citizenship, or organisation established in the bloc, will be able to re-register the .eu domain names which have been revoked.