It's out!! My latest #Brexit Briefing which looks at stormy outlook for Northern Ireland. Not at all clear either EU or UK is prepared to move on big stuff on Protocol... biz confidence is falling, politics getting more strident. Stay with me/1…
No need, probably, to rehearse the basic problem, which is that Brexit creates a trade border in the Irish Sea, that Unionists have rejected. That border gets thicker the harder the Brexit becomes over time, the more the UK diverges. The UK now wants to "sandpaper" it down /2
Again, at risk of simplifying, the UK is applying a mix of unilateral 'grace periods' on the full force of checks, and is arguing that digitisation and supply-chain tracking should enable a "pragmatic" approach that sees checks commensurate with actual risk to EU single market /3
The EU continues to talk, but stick to fundamentally "orthodox" positions - viz. The UK signed up to this, so let supply chains reorientate, and we'll do what we can within letter of law....but NI industry, logistics, haulage etc all pretty dubious that will be enough. /4
I'll come back to that, but recall that the Protocol already has roiled Unionisim, helped to defenstrate Arlene Foster and today the DUP will elect a new leader (Jeffrey Donaldson or Edwin Poots-- and the choice only points to more confrontation.../5
This kind of briefing/signalling from Donaldson camp speaks to where you need to be in order to win over the party faithful...

Or Edwin Poots manifest promise to "systematically undermine and strip away all aspects" of the Protocol. /6
Talk to people on all sides, and there is real concern that if something substantive isn't delivered before the Marching Season really gets going, there is likely to be more trouble, and worse than we saw at Easter. /7
Stories like this, pointing to health discrimination for NI over GB will only further stir up anti-Protocol sentiment.../8
There are some still valiantly arguing that it's a 'best of both worlds' opportunity, but this months @ManufacturingNI survey of members showed worrying signs that confidence is ebbing..these numbers are going in the wrong direction /9…
@ManufacturingNI All the signals are that this (entirely predictably) is heading in the wrong direction. Brexit, as prosecuted by @BorisJohnson was about sovereignty and identity, and it was those question that led @theresa_may to say no PM could do it this way /10…
@ManufacturingNI @BorisJohnson @theresa_may Regular readers will know I've argued for 'pragmatism' -- both sides are joint custodians of the peace -- and the UK political strategy looks to be based on a kind of diffident complacency from Lord Frost that events will force EU to face reality /11
@ManufacturingNI @BorisJohnson @theresa_may The problem is that this issue is not siloed in Brussels, it reads across into other files -- fishing and financial services -- and the French are pushing for discussion at EUCO on making UK live up to all its obligations under TCA, Withdrawal Ag and Protocol /12
@ManufacturingNI @BorisJohnson @theresa_may Of course, as @MichaelAodhan of NI Retail says -- and a man long committed to a workable middle ground -- there are games going on here. And the victim? Why, it Northern Ireland of course. ENDS

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More from @pmdfoster

10 May
🚨🚨🇬🇧🇪🇺🚛🚛🚛🚛🚛🚛 🇪🇺🇬🇧🚨🚨🚨

Exodus of EU truckers leaves UK hauliers facing acute driver shortages - it’s a story of #COVID19 #Brexit and HMRC tax reforms.

So what now?? Stay with me. /1
First, the problem: this is what Alex Veitch of @LogisticsUKNews and @RHARodMcKenzie of Road Haulage Association call an "acute" shortage of HGV drivers that -- as we open up from #Covid19 -- could be come a "hurricane" of shortages. Why now? /2
@LogisticsUKNews @RHARodMcKenzie Well it's a triple whammy of factors:

1. Brexit/Covid (EU drivers which UK was reliant upon going home)

2. Covid. 28,000 HGV tests missed during lockdown

3. Brexit/Immigration: no legal route to recruit foreign HGV drivers /3
Read 20 tweets
7 May
Q: Cons say big wins coz "we're delivering on the people's priorities" -- but in truth #Covid19 has delayed most delivery, and folk get that, bar the vaccine, which was huge tick.

So Q: come 2024? Do cons need delivery? Or will culture war and a smattering of pork cut it? /1
I don't know the answer to this. Is the success of fueling "a narrative" fuelling the idea that politics is now decoupled from delivery -- i.e it's enough to talk about the "people's priorities" in a bullish way that folk identify with, because they don't actually expect much./2
Because deliver is going to be hard -- fiscal recovery from the pandemic is going to crimp spending if @RishiSunak has his way; #brexit (the big winner) is a drag on industry in Red Wall areas, the NHS has huge backlogs from Covid...i.e there are lots of challenges /3
Read 8 tweets
3 May
🚨🚨🇬🇧🇪🇺🐟🐟🐟⛴⛴🇪🇺🇬🇧🚨🚨NEW: remember how Govt said #brexit would lead to sustainable fishing? Mmmm 🤔 now fishing NGOs accuse govt of reneging on those promises. This doesn’t look good. Stay with me/1
First those pledges. When the Fisheries Bill was tabled in Jan @MPGeorgeEustice and Theresa Villiers promised fishing policies that would be "sustainable", protect our "wonderful blue belt" and based on "*health of our fish stocks* not vested interests"/2…
@MPGeorgeEustice But now me and @jimbrunsden learn that in negotiations in Brussels the UK is pushing for "flexibility" to transfer catches of Haddock, Hake, Monkfish from the better-stocked North Sea to the areas West of Scotland - Area VIa in this chart /3
Read 10 tweets
29 Apr
As @scotfoodjames @scotfooddrink have pointed out the money-quote in the EFRA report on #Brexit and ongoing seafood/fish exporter woes (well-documented) is that cross-party group of MPs are calling for UK to do a vet deal with the EU. It would be a start, but not a magic bullet/1
@scotfoodjames @scotfooddrink As @MPGeorgeEustice told cmme the govt won't do "dynamic alignment" required for a Swiss-style deal, so we're left with long-failed UK arguments for "pragmatism" which EU doesn't really feel it needs to entertain. We'll wait, let Brits come begging, is what I hear /2
@scotfoodjames @scotfooddrink @MPGeorgeEustice Difficulty for UK is that the upsides from these trade deals really don't much exist for agrifoods -- really hard to see how RoW trade accounts for losses caused by cutting our noses off to spite our face with the EU. See latest @Foodanddrinkfed numbers./3
Read 6 tweets
27 Apr
🚨🚨🚨🇪🇺🇬🇧🍾🍾🍾🍾🇬🇧🇪🇺🚨🚨🚨NEW: English sparkling wine (aka ‘Brexit Juice’, as some called) producers feeling the #brexit pinch — transport, labelling and customs issues adding frustration and costs. Want govt to do more to help. /1
No need to labour the point these days, but the biggest issue is still groupage -- smaller exporters struggling to get freight companies to take single or double pallets. They'd prefer to run back to EU empty than risk hassle of being stopped, per @Wine_GB /2
@Wine_GB The industry accepts that Brexit means Brexit but wants the govt to do more to help, says @wstauk boss @WSTA_Miles lowering excise duty rates, making it easier to import equipment by getting rid of tariffs and consolidating more tariff codes /3
Read 10 tweets
26 Apr
NEW: Survey by @BritainThinks for @GreenAllianceUK finds Brits ready to see the 'greening' of the tax system -- but experts @ChiefExecCCC @jbuckland13 @timbolord warn the govt needs move early & carefully on issues like road pricing to avoid backlash/1…
@BritainThinks @GreenAllianceUK @ChiefExecCCC @jbuckland13 @timbolord Road pricing is obvious example -- the shift to electric vehicles will cost the Treasury £30bn a year in lost fuel duties — equivalent to a 6p rise in income tax -- so the money has to come from somewhere, and as @timbolord says, when explained this way, become easier /2
@BritainThinks @GreenAllianceUK @ChiefExecCCC @jbuckland13 @timbolord It's also possible to phase in slowly, as @jbuckland13 advises, to compensate for lost revenues that will also taper away over time -- and it can be advertises as a fairer approach, with higher rates on city/congested driving than rural areas where cars are essential/3
Read 8 tweets

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