Are we to play by the rules?

Invoking the Great Repeal Bill (the word “Great” will never appear in the eventual Act) should be simple enough and easily doable in the allotted time.  Deciding what will be debunct thereafter may take a generation in that it has taken a generation to get to this point.

Having said that; will it?  Many of the EU standards and regulations were based upon UK standards laid down before anyone in Brussels had an inkling of them.  By accepting all of the existing regulations, without amendment, the UK Parliament can take its time deciding what is in the best interests of the UK sifting through and getting rid of those annoying elements.

I am, though, concerned that the quality of the Brexit negotiators may be wanting.  We have no experience of serious trade negotiations and our negotiators must tread a careful and wiley route if we are not to be out manoeuvred.  All the superficial talk of “mutual interest” and “what’s good for us will be good for them” is naïve if taken seriously.

Back in the day when my father was in textiles, he was, for a time, Chairman of the Blanket Manufacturers Federation, by then a small group of companies in Yorkshire and Oxford.  The Government announced a requirement for a quantity of blankets for the Armed Forces.  It was of a size that meant, under the rules, it must be available to the European manufacturers too.  My father took a deputation to see the Minister and was seen by a Junior Minister and a Civil Servant to explain how important such an order was to the UK Industry but were told that nothing could be done.  The rules were clear.  UK industry bid for the contract but it was lost.  A year or so later the French Armed Forces had a requirement for blankets.  Curiously, the size of the order was just below the threshold necessary to go to the European (and UK) competition.  They had similar orders for the two following years too.

I don’t blame the French; good luck to them.  They know how to look after their own interest.  I do blame the UK Civil Servants (not the Minister, who probably did not have a clue anyway) who were more concerned about the rules than what could be done to mitigate their effect.  He felt very let down at the time when, as a manufacturer employing over 1,000 people in a struggling industry, he was greeted by the be-suited

Civil Servant with a gold plated pension who had little understanding and even less appreciation of how to create wealth.

I remember reflecting at the time (it was over 35 years ago) that the UK were the only country to play cricket within this group of European nations and I wondered whether that Civil Servant was an aspiring vice captain of his local village second team.

We will need the very best to represent us and they will have to be at the top of their game, which is just not cricket.

 

Mark S Hanson   BSc FRICS

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