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SUNLIT UPLANDS: Government’s war on experts extends to exports

Boris Johnson after signing his Brexit deal - Credit: Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing St

Your weekly check on how Project Fear is becoming Project Reality, selected by Steve Anglesey. 

It has been a gloomy week on the sunlit uplands of sovereign Britain as Michael Gove’s war on experts appeared to have been extended to exports.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in charge of ensuring smooth trade after Brexit, picked up another honorary title as the Road Haulage Association claimed January’s volume of goods going to the EU via British ports was down by 68% year-on-year, and that 65-75% of lorries coming into Britain from the EU were returning to the bloc empty. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett dubbed Gove “the master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back”.

Another bespectacled diva, Sir Elton John, gave the government a rocket, man, over red tape faced by British musicians touring Europe. They will now have to buy separate work permits for each country on a multi-nation tour as well as a ‘carnet’ which lists the brands and models of their musical instruments and other equipment. 

Sir Elton said: “Either the Brexit negotiators didn’t care about musicians, or didn’t think about them, or weren’t sufficiently prepared.” It’s a sad, sad situation but sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Last month, Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed Brexit’s impact on the fishing industry by telling the Commons: “The key thing is we’ve got our fish back. They’re now British fish and they’re better and happier fish for it.” For the fishermen, though, it’s no laughing matter.

Bridlington-based Baron Shellfish, which has sold lobster and crabs to Europe for 40 years, has closed and Andy Trust’s Looe-based Ocean Harvest firm has abandoned exports to the continent despite them forming 30 per cent of his total sales before Britain left the EU. He explained: “For the last 20 years you could put fish in a box, load it into a lorry and off it goes. Now, it’s getting pulled up in Boulogne and turned away for the smallest thing.”

Mr Trust, who says the cost of a 200kg shipment to the EU has risen from £70 to £220 since we took back control, added: “When they were talking about increasing the quotas, making our own decisions, that sounded good. And they had a big red bus which said they’d fund the NHS, that sounded good.

“I fell for it. I didn’t realise, and I’m shooting myself in the bloody foot. Given a second chance I wouldn’t have voted for it, it’s totally buggered me up.”

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