A guid new year tae ane an aa and we surely live in interesting times!
I have been struck how all the gammons and yoons on line and in the UK media are still trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Their cries of taking sovereignty back seek to hide all the things they did not think of in their rush to get out of the EU to save the City of London's status as a world centre for tax avoidance and money laundering.
One of the things no one seemed to notice is leaving the EU removes us from the European Postal Union. As most of us rarely post things you are well within your rights to say, "So?".
If you are running a business that relies on sending your goods to customers in Europe you could previously negotiate a bulk rate at around £13.50 a kg from the Post Office. As of the 1st January, with the UK now outside the EU Postal Union you are looking at £30 per kg to cover all the additional costs incurred by the Post Office. That is a fair dent in the gross profit margin your company or small business is taking and a major impairment on cash flow. This could well be a hit a small business can not take or company accountants will not be willing to take. In effect a loss of their export market to the EU countries.
I am used to flying into Europe and simply walking out to a taxi or train to take me where I am going. The reality is I now face visa delays at passport control as a "non EU Citizen". I will be delayed to ensure I have health insurance for my stay or a "green card" if I am going to hire a car, I may have to demonstrate I have enough capital to cover my expected stay and an address at which I am staying; all fairly normal requirements for an entry visa in most countries. When I travel to Japan or Nepal this takes a minimum of 15 minutes even before you get anywhere near passport control who will shift you to the back of the queue if there is the slightest error in the visa application.
As a business man, instead of being able to plan my visit to be at a meeting in time, I now have to think about traveling a day before at additional cost to my company. No more red eye flight from Edinburgh to Schipol for a meeting in Amsterdam at 1100 and back by teatime the same day.
I have relations in Northern Ireland but as yet I have no solid information of what are the requirements in terms of passport control. Do I apply for an EU visa and ensure I have a green card so I can take my grandson to Dublin Zoo about an hour or so from where they stay in Northern Ireland. Will Stena or P&O stop sailings to Northern Ireland from Loch Ryan as traffic shifts to Roselaire / Cherbourg - HGV's are the route's bed and butter.
Even though many folk in D&G whine about the state of the A75 and the need to dual it from Stranrear to Gretna, the drop off in traffic could make this moot and, with it, the knock effect to all the small businesses that, one way or another, service the HGV's traversing D&G from Gretna to Stranrear.
I wonder how haulage firms, like Coultards, in D&G will look on rigs being stuck for 24 hours on the old Castle Kennedy airfield for custom's checks and clearance, there is a serious cost to them of a rig sitting still, not earning, or for a contract driver not doing the "miles" they rely on to be paid.
All this even before considering the loss of markets in France and Spain for live shellfish and fresh fish from Scottish producers. We know what a delay either for the Euro Tunnel or at Dover cost for these exporters, the loss of around £5 million of product due to delays, just before Christmas 2020. As for the potential purchasers of live shellfish, in France and Spain, will they now find more reliable supplies as the Dover delay will have cost them lost income and loss of confidence in the ability of Scottish producers to supply these goods in prime condition.
No matter where I look, Brexit is a major disaster for SME's who have been supplying goods to the EU. There is no sector which will not be badly hit by increased costs and potential custom delays.
I could write another 1,000 words on the impact on health and care services through the loss of EU personnel under the not so pretty, Priti Patel"s immigration laws. Immigration Laws which would have not let her parents into the UK as Ugandan Asian refugees.
Usually I seek at least a bit of sardonic humour to leaven this dry bread but not today. Today I look at an impending wasteland of destroyed SME's across Scotland via a deal we did not vote for, agree to or wanted.