This week I was contacted by a retired CEO of a major wine wholesaler. They, unbeknownst to me, had asked their local MP John Penrose (Weston-super-Mare, Somerset) if he thought it was acceptable that my wine business had been obliged to open a site in the EU to mitigate Brexit costs.
The reply is shown below. The letter is from John Penrose followed by the actual reply from Defra, written by Mark Spencer, who seems to be the minster responsible now for wine at Defra.
I read these replies with much interest, especially as it would seem I have guided government policy in the abolition of the Vi1; well at least that’s the impression this letter gives, which is of course not quite true as the entire industry was fairly vocal about this for 18 months.
What’s more interesting is that this letter is trying to pretend that Brexit is having a positive effect on the importation of wine and that government is making life easier for the wine trade as a whole. Again not quite true. Here are the facts once and for all.
In the pre-Brexit world, importation/movement of wine (an excise commodity) was fairly straightforward especially from the the EU, and 66.6 per cent of the 99.1 per cent of wine in the UK was and still is from the EU. These figures are unlikely to change in the medium to long term.
With the FACT that these numbers can’t really change due to the global wine region’s production restrictions, the government policy of trying to make people believe that, for example, Australian wine is the answer is simply nonsense.
In the post-Brexit world, regardless of where the wine is coming from, UK paperwork has INCREASED and governmental plans that have yet to be introduced will also INCREASE the burden further to importers. To pretend otherwise is both gaslighting and demonstrates their ignorance.
Currently goods arriving from the EU are not checked by U.K. customs because the facilities are still being built. They are relying on the approved importers & logistics companies to make honest declarations. In other words both cost & burden has been passed directly to businesses.
Needless to say importers UK-wide have had a cost increase to conform with all the UK regulations and have had to implement staff training to maintain status quo. To be clear, this has fuelled inflation and, as always, the consumers will pay the price.
But the government has not finished with making it more and more complicated to import. As many know, CDS – the new importation system – has taken over from Chief. This has required massive investment from importers to ready themselves for a more complicated declaration system.
The UK is still transitioning with many of the requirements for importation from the EU because they know full well that a full Brexit break would decimate the UK economy and leave shops void of fresh produce, for example.
Now let’s turn our attention to the treasury department who plan to tax wine at 27 different levels. Admittedly they have now kicked the can down the road because they know full well it is totally unworkable. But rather than admit they got it wrong, they kick the can. Three levels is ok!
It’s the same with importers’ labels: they have kicked the can down the road because they know it’s bollocks. But because they are spineless and refuse to speak with actual businesses that import, they simply don’t understand or know what to do.
I relocated to France to mitigate the costs to my UK business that Brexit has created. I am working here in France to see this through. Soon I will be able to avoid all the additional Brexit costs and offer the UK trade the cost effective service we want and had before Brexit.
I can only live and work in France without visas etc because I happen to be a dual national. Dual nationality has never been so important, but to this day Brexit types still haven’t understood that both dual nationals and EU citizens have more rights now than regular UK citizens.
Answering the letter that Defra has put out, I’d like to be clear that it is simply not true to say they are helping to reduce the importation burden on the wine trade. Brexit has and continues to increase the burden on business significantly: we now have barriers to trade with the EU when there were none.
The government does not want the public to hold them to account for Brexit and its real effects. That’s because the UK economy is being held back by red tape created by Brexit. Everyone knows it, and sadly everyone in the UK is paying for it. See below.
As an SME business owner I can only do my best for my customers and tell it how it really is. Brexit isn’t working for the benefit of the many, but it’s certainly costing many businesses a very heavy price which some will not survive. That in my mind is wrong at all levels.
Finally, stupid people think that the pound is doing ok against other currencies. It really isn’t, because the UK economy is being held back. Here is the real hard truth in a graphic. Don’t be gaslit on this important point, the pound is weak. Very weak!
I should add if either Mark Spencer or John Penrose would like to comment, I would certainly welcome your reply. I suspect you will do what all cowards do and hide behind your respective rocks. By the way, we all know you are reading the replies to the Twitter thread. Enjoy your weekend.