Brexit – Four times as many working in customs checks than the entire fishing industry

2nd March 2020 / United Kingdom
Brexit - Four times as many working in customs checks than the entire fishing industry

By TruePublica Editor: Michael Gove was in the Commons last week delivering yet another round of misinformation and propaganda to cover the outright lies that got a right-wing faction of economic extremists into power. “We will respect the withdrawal agreement, implement the Northern Ireland protocol,” whilst quietly referring to, on the one hand, a document which makes it clear there will be a customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland and stating: “There will be no border down the Irish Sea” on the other. It would be a classic comedy for an episode of Yes Minister if it wasn’t so serious.

There will be a border down the Irish sea. That’s the deal Britain has signed up to and its an EU red line. That border agreement is in the contents of the agreement in black and white. In addition, that border also means all products, no matter what will require confirmation of “country-of-origin” checks if there is a trade deal with the EU. If the UK decides, or should I say – this government decides to renegue on that agreement, the UK will crash out of the EU trading bloc. That’s the truth. Gove is lying and that’s the truth.

What Gove didn’t go onto to say was that, if the UK does comply with what it has already agreed to – is that the UK is going to have to employ up to 50,000 people for customs checks alone. On average UK wages in customs and excise, that cost is a staggering £1.5billion a year. It’s about the same cost as 50,000 new nurses that the government have promised, which also turned out to be an outright lie.


“four times more people to fill in customs forms than the 12,000 people working as fishermen in the UK – the industry that is supposedly one of the big beneficiaries of Brexit”


It is extraordinary, isn’t it? Britain will be investing huge amounts of taxpayer cash dedicated to the practical demolition of our own trading networks based on a lie. As the FT calculated, that’s “four times more people to fill in customs forms than the 12,000 people working as fishermen in the UK – the industry that is supposedly one of the big beneficiaries of Brexit“. This army of form-fillers is one quarter a workforce bigger than the Royal Navy or the Royal Airforce or midwives in Britain. And form-fillers will not be productive in any way, shape or form and won’t contribute to anything other than an increased national tax liability.

The FT’s first paragraph in its report last Friday reads – “Michael Gove has endorsed claims that up to 50,000 people will have to be recruited to carry out customs paperwork under the government’s preferred Canada-style trade deal with the EU — the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized town.”

The entire fishing industry is worth £980 million, or less than half a per cent of national GDP. And don’t forget that 75 per cent of all fish caught by British trawlers is exported … to the EU and more than half of the fish Briton’s eat is imported.

For people like Johnson, Gove, Raab, Patel, Cummings et al – it is clear that they have little understanding of the economic mechanics of their own ideology, let alone that of trade agreements that took decades to develop. And right now, Britain is negotiating trade agreements that it itself does not understand.

If more evidence of incompetence was required, here’s some more. The UK published what it saw as its mandate for the EU talks last week. In it, Johnson completely rejected his own commitment to the level-playing field requirements which he himself signed for in the future relationship deal with the EU. Johson’s team then went about blaming the EU, supported by the right-wing megaphone mobsters at the Telegraph, Express and Daily Mail.

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All of this is going on when the same negotiating team is spouting its expertise in pursuing an American trade deal, with the most aggressive nationalist, isolationist and one has to say, demented, president that country has ever managed to belch out of its imperial guts.

The leadership strategy of Britain, after two months of Johnson in government, seems little more rational than drunkenness mixed in with a good dash of scandal and revelations. Our leader was missing in action over the country’s worst flooding, the Chancellor has walked under duress, refusing to be bullied and our Home Secretary is defending herself from the implosion of the civil service claiming widespread intimidation.

Yes, I’ll have a Brexit on the rocks please, make that a double!


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