Blog: How Truss’s post-Brexit farming policy descended into chaos – The Guardian

The chaos in the English countryside began with the click of a civil servant’s mouse. At the end of last week, farmers who had been working with the government on environmental subsidy schemes saw that their regular meetings about it had been removed from their online diaries without warning.

This appeared to hint at what had been feared – that the new post-Brexit farming subsidy scheme was in danger of being scrapped.

When the UK was in the EU, landowners were paid simply for managing land. The more land someone owned, the more money they received.

Michael Gove, who at the time was the environment secretary overseeing post-Brexit changes, decided to build a scheme under which landowners would only get paid if they provided “public goods” such as environmental protections.

This became the environmental land management scheme (Elms). The idea was that this would be a fast and effective way to transform the countryside, make it more nature-friendly, store carbon and create a sustainable farming system that is resilient to climate change and less reliant on inputs such as pesticides.

However, creating it has been an uphill battle, with farmers and other land managers spending hundreds of thousands of hours on pilot schemes and wading through bureaucracy. Not only that, but the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) was lobbying hard to water down environmental aspects and “focus on food productivity” – though any regenerative farmer would tell you that these go hand in hand.

Rightwing Tories also loathed Elms, too, thinking it was “woke” to spend taxpayers’ money on eco-friendly policies. Many of those who lobbied against the scheme are now part of Liz Truss’s cabinet, so there were fears it would be scrapped once they came to power.

Farmers who had their meetings removed contacted the Guardian, fearing this was the case. At the weekend, sources in government told the Observer that Elms had indeed been put “on pause” pending a review and that “everything is on the table”, including going back to area-based payments. This would effectively mean Elms, a key part of the government’s net zero strategy, would be abandoned.

Perhaps the government hoped that using the day of the mini-budget to cancel meetings and decide to “review” the scheme would help it fly under the radar. However, this was evidently not the case.

As the rumours were confirmed, the rural landscape exploded in anger. Land managers were desperate for clarity from the government, which was not forthcoming, and charities including the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts urged their millions of members to pen angry letters to their MPs.

Michael Gove wrote a missive to the Times asking for Elms to be saved, and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents landowners, said: “As farmers and land managers, we know that you do not have to choose between food production and improving the environment. We can and must do both.” Even Truss’s favourite rightwing thinktank, the IEA, said area-based subsidies “encourage laziness”.

The chaos intensified when Minette Batters, the president of the NFU, welcomed the review and told the BBC that nature recovery should be funded by private investors and taken out of the scheme, with farmers subsidised for producing food.

This incensed senior members of the NFU who have spent years improving their farms for nature and working on Elms – and many threatened to quit.

Bruised, Batters backpedalled, and tweeted: “For the record I want Elms to deliver for environment and food, be profitable for all farmers. We must take time to get this right.”

But farmers are still not convinced. One told the Guardian: “Minette has realised how far away from everyone else’s position the NFU is. I’m seriously thinking about moving my subs away from NFU to the CLA now.”

The outcry even caused the new environment secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, to find a field to stand in, in order to film a video to reassure farmers. He said he was “committed to schemes” to help farmers “curate the countryside” and promised to deliver a “strong environment”. However, there was no commitment to any specific policy, and Elms remains under review with no end date in sight. Clarity is, instead, promised to be given “in the autumn”.

Farmers on both sides of the debate mocked Jayawardena’s “empty words” and compared his bluster to that of Boris Johnson. However, the fact he felt the need to film the video at all reassured some that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was listening and a U-turn could be possible.

One prominent nature-friendly farmer said: “It’s good we have Defra on the back foot. They didn’t anticipate the outrage they would cause, but we have still seen no assurances about any of the environmental policies in the schemes. There is still a great danger that it will be watered down. We have to keep the pressure up.”

However, others fear that the fragile consensus that farmers should be paid for nature recovery may still be shattered.

One award-winning regenerative farmer said: “It’s a bloody scary time for farming and the environment. I honestly thought we were getting somewhere with a sniff of the right government support, farmers were beginning to see they needed to change and people who had never even looked at a hedgerow flower or nesting bird had actually started to do some positive things. I hope that small amount of momentum can carry itself forward.”

Even if the government does drop Elms, many farmers are finding nature-friendly farming good for business.

Dominic Buscall manages the environmental schemes at his family’s farm in north Norfolk at Ken Hill. He said: “Embedding nature in our business has caused it to grow and become financially sustainable: our farming is more profitable, we are attracting private and public payments for ecosystem services, and we have a growing nature-based tourism business.”

Another obvious example of profitable farming alongside the environment is the organic farm Riverford, which sends its vegetable boxes across the country.

Its CEO, Rob Haward, said: “We were heartened to see the environment at the heart of new farming subsidies under Elms. To hear that these are to be potentially scrapped under a new drive for productivity is a shocking U-turn.

“At Riverford, we have been farming organically for 30 years, and are living proof that you can produce high-quality, nutritious food on a commercial level while working in harmony with nature. These schemes would open the door for many more farmers across the UK to follow suit, at a time when we drastically need a change in how we produce food, restore nature, and address the climate crisis.”

Across the country, agricultural businesses are struggling with drought and the rising cost of inputs, and will soon be competing with countries with lower regulations after Truss’s trade deals. Expecting them to solve the biodiversity crisis on their own, on top of this, may prove a demand too far.

BPS v Elms

Basic payment scheme
The basic payment scheme is the biggest farmer subsidy scheme. It pays a flat rate per hectare. It is a payment given simply for managing land, and there are few restrictions on what you can do. However, there is a small amount of environmental regulation involved – for example, an arable farmer might need to grow three different crops and use 5% of their land to do specific things that are good for the environment. The cap for England for 2022 is set at £1,845,156,000. the payments are due to be halved by 2024 and abolished by 2028.

Environmental land management scheme
This was intended to replace BPS, which is viewed by many as an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money, as it is given to farmers with few requirements for what they do with their land. This can encourage inefficient farming practices and the destruction of nature.

Instead, farmers will have to meet certain environmental targets, for example improving species abundance or soil quality. The scheme originates from the “sustainable farming incentive”, which pays farmers for environmentally friendly practices everyone can do, to landscape-scale recovery in which large landowners or groups of small farms can collaborate on bespoke schemes to support and protect nature.

Blog: ‘The UK seems to have imploded’: how world’s press sees Truss’s Britain – The Guardian

The UK is beginning to look jinxed to some foreign observers as they review the wreckage of last week’s mini-budget.

A headline in Spain’s El Español’s reads: “21 days with Liz Truss: the pound falls, the Queen dies and the UK has been weakened more than ever since Brexit.” The newspaper reckons that Boris Johnson’s parting shot of “Hasta la vista, baby” now sounds like a “curse”. It says Truss’s first three weeks in office “could not have been more catastrophic”.

The German tabloid Bild is also struck by Britain’s series of calamities. It says: “First Boris Johnson falls, then the Queen dies – and now the British financial system is also shaking.”

It notes: “The turbulence on the foreign exchange markets is causing even the most diehard traders to lose sleep,” and gleefully adds: “The Brexit British currently have a nasty money problem.”

It is not just the German press that are revelling in some post-Brexit schadenfreude. El Español says the “UK seems to have imploded”, adding:

It should be remembered that the British voted in favour of ‘Brexit’ in the belief that they would take control and become a stronger country if they managed to throw off the yoke of Europe. Well, the exact opposite seems to be happening. And now that they are no longer under the protection of Brussels, they have no right or access to aid from the 27. If they want to overcome the crisis in which they are immersed, they will have to do it by themselves.

European politicians have seized on what appears to be a failed experiment taking place across the Channel.

“I am worried about the British situation,” France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 Radio on Friday. “It shows there are costs for financial and economic policies. When you take on major costs like that, with spectacular announcements, as some opposition parties want to do in France, it perturbs the markets. It perturbs financial balances.”

Also on Friday, Oscar Arce, a director general of the European Central Bank, was asked whether he worried about “financial contagion” coming from the UK. He said there were no signs of it yet, but added: “Whatever happens in the UK will have some impact on our economy.”

The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says “Trussonomics is deeply stupid”. But he warns against “hyperventilating”. In a tweet he says: “It won’t cause a global crisis – for God’s sake, Britain is only 3.2% of world GDP. And while British markets are a mess, we’re a long way from 1976. Get a grip.”

An article in the respected US magazine Foreign Policy says Truss is making Britain look like Argentina. It cautions that the ideologically driven prime minister could be tempted into a trade battle with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol. But it warns that such a ploy would end badly.

“Truss, who is a diehard Thatcher fan, might even imagine it could be her Falklands war moment – standing up to an ancestral enemy in the name of the motherland. It could be, but her role would be that of reckless Argentina, not victorious Britain.”

Similarly, the Irish Times columnist Stephen Collins says: “The danger facing the UK now is that it could in time become the Argentina of Europe. It should not be forgotten that Argentina was once among the richest countries in the world but generations of bad political decision-making has brought it to its current sorry state.”

Collins adds: “The emergence of Liz Truss as prime minister and Kwasi Kwarteng as the chancellor of the exchequer committed to a low tax, low regulation economy is the logical conclusion of Brexit, but it is the decision to fund public services at their current level through massive borrowing that has really spooked the financial markets.”

From mini-budget to market turmoil: Kwasi Kwarteng’s week – video timeline

France’s Le Monde says Truss’s first weeks in charge have been “spectacular and catastrophic”. It adds: “By destroying the economic credibility of the British right, Truss is rolling out the red carpet for Labour, which, after 12 years in opposition, is dreaming of Downing Street.”

The Times of India suggests the Conservative party should have picked Rishi Sunak as leader. It notes: “The Indian-origin former chancellor had warned against much of the economic turmoil unleashed by the new incumbent at 10 Downing Street.”

Blog: Massive change for huge number of Brits driving in Spain – will you be affected?… – The Sun

TENS of thousands of Brits living in Spain have been banned from the roads after their right to drive after Brexit was withdrawn.

Officials say even long-term residents must now sit a test after the Brexit extension expired.

Brits living in Spain face a whole new challenge after a Brexit driving exemption expired

1

Brits living in Spain face a whole new challenge after a Brexit driving exemption expiredCredit: Alamy

British tourists are still able to drive for up to six months when visiting Spain on holiday.

But Brits who live in the country face having to get a new Spanish license, despite Britain continuing to exchange Spanish licences here without the requirement to take a new exam.

Unscrupulous driving schools are charging upfront fees of up to €600 to get British residents booked in for tests.

Britons are planning protests outside the British embassy in Madrid next year as anger mounted over the failure of bureaucrats to reach a deal.

The extension to allow British residents to use their UK licenses has expired after post-Brexit talks broke down.

A report by Spanish state news agency EFE has claimed the hold-up is due to ongoing talks over Gibraltar.

Brits living in Spain have been left infuriated by the development.

Emma Crowe, a fitness instructor, said: “The British embassy in Madrid is constantly stringing us along with non-update updates.

“Just stating that they’re making ‘progress’ but can’t comment on what is happening, simply because nothing is happening. They are lying to us.

“We have been left unable to drive our Spanish registered cars whilst tourists from the UK with the same pink licence can come on holiday and drive here willy-nilly.

“Then to put insult to injury the British government also allows Spaniards residing in Britain to exchange their Spanish licence to a UK one but we are not allowed that same privilege here in Spain.

“We are being used as a pawn. Some people are stuck, isolated in their own homes, elderly people.”

Jane Chaplin, a retiree who arrived in Spain in November 2020, has been tempted by driving schools trying to scam Brits out of €600.

She said: “My husband cannot work because he is not permitted to drive – he cannot walk to jobs because it is impossible to lug his tools around on foot.

“We live rurally, where there is no public transport whatsoever and the nearest local convenience store is over 5km away.

“We are reliant upon friends to take us shopping for basic food, doctors and hospital appointments, and if they are unable to help, we are having to pay for taxis.

“This situation cannot be allowed to go on. We came to Spain to enjoy our semi-retirement but the stress being caused by this ludicrous situation is having a huge, detrimental affect on our mental health.”

The British embassy in Madrid is constantly stringing us along with non-update updates. They are lying to us.

Emma Crowe, fitness instructor

And another driver who did not provide a name said: “My uncle has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. My elderly parents are looking after him.

“We live only two hours drive away and we cannot provide them with the support they need – poor public transport in addition to this superfluous problem!”

The British embassy in Spain have insisted progress is still being made amid local anger.

They tweeted: “We recognise that negotiations are taking longer than anticipated and longer than either you or we want.

“We are genuinely making progress on the outstanding points but, for reasons we have explained before, we cannot be definitive about the timescale.”

Hugh Elliott, the British ambassador to Spain and Andorra, said: “I’m as disappointed as you are by the length of time that this is actually taking.

“But, please, do be as assured that we are resolving those issues, one by one. There are only a couple of issues left, but they are complex.

“We are working on this every day. It remains a priority.

“There is a lot going on behind the scenes even if it doesn’t feel like it to you.”

Blog: Movement Of People, The Pending Issue Of ‘Brexit’ – World Nation News

lvaro Nadal, Rachel Haynes and Matthew Woods at a discussion table / Photo: Mig Fernandez / Video: Pedro J. quero

South Forum

Tire brings together experts to analyze the state of relations between Spain and the United Kingdom in matters such as tourism, trade or education

Attract talent to technology companies, expand the workforce of British educational centers in Spain or improve tourism statistics. These three actions sound very different, but they have a common denominator: they all require the mobility of people to flourish; A requirement that ‘Brexit’ has been complicated since British citizens voted in favor of it more than six years ago. Exploring these problems and analyzing the present moment were two of the objectives achieved with the convening of this Friday the Forum organized by SUR- ‘Building Strategic Relations of the United Kingdom and Spain’; A meeting which was attended by a dozen experts from different fields to shed some light on the relationship between the two countries.

Matthew Woods, Political Counsel, Political and Economic Section of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Spain, and lvaro Nadal, Consultant for Economy and Commerce of the Spanish Embassy in the United Kingdom, were the first to say that the issue of mobility was a sin undoubtedly the most problematic. is, an affirmation that – although some nuance – is planned in the speech of most speakers. According to Woods, Spain and the United Kingdom have always been strategic partners, and so their role is to try to help both societies adapt to this new situation, which he said has protected the rights of residents despite everything. Has been. Still, he stressed the need to address an element that has a lot to do with mobility between the two countries beyond visas: the driver’s license. The current regulation complicates the situation when the British spend more than six months in Spain. “We should find a solution to this at the earliest,” he said.

Gallery.

Photos from the conference ‘United Kingdom and Spain, building strategic relations’. ,

Miguel Fernandez

For his part, Nadal recalled that the United Kingdom is the third most important country for Spain in commercial terms, and our country has a surplus of services with the United Kingdom. “But we must not forget that with ‘Brexit’ the framework and obligations have changed, and this affects issues such as freedom of movement of people, the provision of goods and services”, he stressed, adding that the most complex are still It is a matter of movement of people” but it is true that the process is not completed yet. We had the first start of ‘Brexit’ last year and now we are in the doctorate,” he joked. It’s been pretty good.”

business and tourism

Although all participants of the forum called for greater progress in terms of mobility, they were more optimistic in matters related to trade, technology or tourism. Eduardo Barrachina, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom; and Mirim Diori, a member of the British Chamber of Commerce’s governing board, was in charge of telling what the current picture is for entrepreneurs operating in both sectors. “Interest in Spain remains unbeatable,” confirmed Mirim Diori, who pointed out that there are many British companies that want to operate in Spain and have difficulties doing so, so they took advantage of the platform to request the Spanish government. More active in bringing in British companies that want to come to Spain in general and Malaga in particular.

For his part, Barrachina stressed that the relationship between the Spanish companies and the United Kingdom is very close. “They continue to invest because not everyone has been at the same level in the face of the new adjustments,” he said, although qualifying that an agreement on financial services would be very “beneficial” and that the agreement would make migration more flexible. Thus the president of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom wanted to send a message of optimism. “A Spanish Euro has not left the United Kingdom with ‘Brexit’”.

And from good business figures to tourism figures. Manuel Butler, director of the Spanish Tourist Office in London; Pedro Bendala, Director of Malaga Airport; and Jose Luc, president of Ehcos; Was in charge of analyzing the most strategic area on the Costa del Sol. Butler stressed the need to continue betting on the United Kingdom, despite the fact that post-Brexit new rules have hurt tourism and it is difficult to predict the future as most reserves are being produced in the short term.

Bendala recalled that connectivity with the United Kingdom is important, as they account for about three million passengers, 30 percent of the Málaga market. He regretted that these passengers now have a maximum time limit and they have to go through passport stamping. “This summer we’ve done it manually, we haven’t had any problems thanks to the work of the police,” said the airport director, who said next year there will be a new system so that border crossings are electronic. In this debate on tourism, José Luc emphasized on several occasions that the Junta de Andalusia had taken the right direction with the abolition of the inheritance tax, and criticized that the government of Pedro Sánchez was going to impose a tax rate on large estates. . “Fiscal attraction was the right path, but I see the prospects well for the future,” he said.

If tourism is a key strategic area consolidated in the province of Málaga, technology is another that is starting to happen. Jordi Lagarda, Minister of Trade and Investment at the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Spain; Vicente Padilla, CEO and co-founder of Aertec; and Jesus Manuel Amores, director of the Vodafone Innovation Center in Málaga, was in charge of bringing the reality closer between the two countries within the region. LaGuarda was blunt from the first minute, pointing out that the outline is not the same as we had before, and that there is no going back. «’Brexit’ is one point and another, but the rules must be developed. Still, I want to emphasize the message of optimism.”

education

Padilla, who recalled that aeronautical technology is the second largest exporter in Andalusia, put on the table the need to attract talent – ​​as well as the difficulty – wherever it comes from. «For us, ‘Brexit’ has been and is a problem. We have a lot of trouble bringing in people.” Jess Manuel Amores spoke with a similar speech, saying that the lower the limits, the better for the talent. «Whenever the rules change there are winners and losers. My lawyer is one of the winners in the United Kingdom”, joked the head of the Vodafone Innovation Centre, who once again mentioned the need to solve people’s mobility.

Adrian Massam, President of NABSS – Association of British Schools in Spain; and Alan McDeer, President of ACEIA – Association of Andalusian Language Learning Centers; He was in charge of closing the day of debate with talks on problems in education. Both spokesmen highlighted the good health of British education in Spain, but acknowledged that they were refraining from hiring British teachers – once again – complicating the dynamics between the two countries.

Salado, during his speech on stage / mig fernandez

Francis Salado: «British tourists continue to bet on the Costa del Sol as a destination»

The President of the Diputación de Málaga, Francis Salado, was in charge of inaugurating the Forum on ‘The United Kingdom and Spain, Building Strategic Relations’ this Friday; A speech in which he took the opportunity to highlight the link that united the British country with the Costa del Sol.

Although this relationship exists in many aspects, Salado emphasizes tourism as the most important, particularly the importance of the British market to the destination, as well as the challenges facing tourism consolidation. The President of the Provincial Council said he counted on the “strong ties” that unite the British and the destination to recover the arrival of visitors from the United Kingdom to the Costa del Sol. “It is clear that British tourists continue to bet on this. The Costa del Sol destination. Seoul, although the figures for 2019 have not yet recovered,” he said.

Faced with this situation, the head of the provincial unit announced that various actions were going to be taken in the British market, some of them to recover a market to attract so-called ‘energy nomads’ from the United Kingdom. Which is “extremely true to our fate,” he recalled.

The President also highlighted the potential offered by the destination to attract investment and trade, and pointed to the province of Málaga as one of the “strategic” ones to strengthen ties between Spain and the United Kingdom. . Salado, who defined Málaga as “the most British province in Spain”, insisted that British citizens contribute to the creation of “a better province”.

subjects

Jose Francisco Salado Escano, lvaro Nadal, Ehcos (Association of Hoteliers of the Costa del Sol), Deputación de Málaga, Junta de Andalucía, Málaga Airport, Costa del Sol, Spain, London, Brexit, Foro Sur, tourism, tourist

Blog: Britain’s economic slump: Does the fault lie with Brexit? – The Hill

With its economy in tatters, England is not having its finest hour. It is a time of transition for the United Kingdom, with a new monarch and a new prime minister. Not since Churchill took office in the dark days of May 1940 has a British prime minister faced so much uncertainty in the opening days of an administration.

No sooner had the official period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II come to a close than the announcement of Prime Minister Liz Truss’s economic plan, known as “Trussonomics,” sent stock markets reeling, interest rates soaring and the pound tumbling to a record low against the dollar.

If you are planning a trip to London, now is the time to go.

England is today in economic doldrums — a renewed slump in consumer spending amid soaring living costs. While the inflation rate slowed slightly in August to 9.9 percent, the fastest pace in 40 years, inflation has been projected to reach 11 percent before the end of the year.

The Bank of England says it will not hesitate to increase interest rates. But it has hesitated on an emergency rate hike lest it plummet the country into recession. To right the sinking ship, the Bank just waded into the financial markets, buying up to 5 billion pounds a day of “gilts” or long-term British treasuries, in order to restore stability. The move doubtless saved the nation’s pension funds from certain disaster.

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak claimed the government’s economic plan will lead to 7 percent interest rates and “tip millions of people into misery,” as the Bank of England’s efforts to curb inflation are incoherently at odds with the government’s tax and spend economic plan calling for the heftiest unfunded tax cuts in a generation, as well as energy subsidies.

Economists say Britain is drifting towards a lengthy recession. Some attribute this dismal state of affairs to geopolitical forces, the price of oil, COVID-19 or supply shortages.

Others to Brexit, when the relationship between the Bank of England and Treasury first soured. You may remember that in 2016 a majority of the British public (52 percent), voted to withdraw from the European Union. It took four years, but Britain finally did so at the end of 2020. Brexit, it has been argued, was a bet on globalization. But globalization was hardly a panacea for decoupling from China, the Ukraine war and worldwide protectionist sentiment, especially dramatic events for a middle power trying to go it alone.

What has been the outcome of Brexit?

The government’s 2018 analysis showed that British economic growth under Brexit would be stunted by 2 to 8 percent over the next 15 years. And recent studies have argued that Brexit has exacerbated Britain’s cost of living crisis.

What is to be done? The government puts the hat on Kwasi Kwarteng, the beleaguered chancellor of the Exchequer. On his first day in office, Kwarteng took the apparently reckless step of firing the seasoned first permanent secretary, Tom Scholar, leaving the top two civil service posts vacant.

This “shock and awe” approach in the face of a frail economy left many concerned about Kwarteng’s leadership, which violates the maxim that a “good plowman doesn’t butcher his ox.” While the prime minister is likely to stand behind the chancellor so early in her administration, many members of parliament are saying his head is on the block, and have predicted his imminent resignation.

The swirl of controversy around Kwarteng reminds him that he has set out how the Growth Plan will be delivered, rolling out supply-side reforms next month and publishing the medium-term debt-cutting fiscal plan on Nov. 23, which many see as courting disaster.

Most likely, the fiscal picture is the last thing the chancellor wishes to be reminded of.

But it all comes back to Brexit. As Robert Shrimsley writes in the Financial Times: “what was once an economic slow puncture is now an audible hiss.” Was Brexit a huge mistake? Will it ultimately cause Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom? It last decided to remain in a referendum accomplished eight years ago by a 55-45 percent vote.

And what of Northern Ireland, which at the moment in effect remains part of the EU, and where Catholics outnumber Protestants for the first time? Under the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, there is no hard border between the province and its neighbor, the EU member Republic of Ireland. This permits goods to flow to and from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as the rest of the EU.

Nonetheless, Britain must still pay a tariff on goods, such as steel, sent from the Port Talbot steelworks in Wales to Northern Ireland shipyards. Negotiations are needed for an all-points-of-the-compass deal that will enable Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, eliminate tariff barriers with Britain and trade freely with the Republic of Ireland.

What Brexit gained for Britain in the way of sovereignty, autonomy and the ability to chart its own economic course without having to go to Europe with hat in hand, it lost in terms of a standing free trade agreement with its largest trading partner. Former Bank of England economist Peter Doyle has said: “The really big self-harm inflicted by the UK on itself was the decision to do Brexit.”

What is the way forward? And what is to be done about the current economic slide? Can Scotland and Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom? Boris Johnson got Brexit done. Ms. Truss has the much harder task of making it work. She realistically has a year to turn things around, at which point the next general election, which must be held no later than January 2025, will already be looming.

James D. Zirin is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Blog: Brexit: Prospect of united Ireland not as remote – Kyle Paisley – BBC

In a question and answer session, Rev Paisley said that because of the “long shadow” cast by the Northern Ireland Troubles there was still a fear among many unionists that there are people who would seek to exploit them in a united Ireland.

He said that while it may be possible to respect and acknowledge the culture and history of unionists in a united Ireland he was of the view that “you can’t really be a unionist without the union”.

The former Alliance leader and Fine Gael MEP, John Cushnahan, told the committee that he questioned “the wisdom” of those using the recent Northern Ireland census to seek a “premature” border poll.

He said future constitutional change “must be able to win the consent of the nationalist majority and the unionist minority” rather than a 50% plus one margin.

Mr Cushnahan suggested that it might be better to allow academics examine the issues surrounding change rather than a citizens’ assembly.

The Seanad committee on the Voices of all Communities on the Constitutional Future on the Island of Ireland earlier heard from young people north and south of the border about their thoughts on the island’s future.

Blog: Brexit: London centre shuts after 58 years helping French find jobs – The Connexion

A centre which has been helping young French people find work in London since 1964 has closed, saying post-Brexit immigration rules have made its work impossible. 

The Centre Charles Péguy, a British charity attached to French association for international exchanges CEI, used to help around 500 new members each year, of whom 90% found a job. 

It also helped with finding accommodation and with paperwork, and allowed users to pick up post. 

However, weighty post-Brexit recruitment rules in the UK mean the situation has radically changed for French people looking to spend time working in the country. 

Read more: France wants ‘new start’ in Anglo-French relations, says minister

French people must be ‘sponsored’ by a UK business

Post-Brexit, French people must be ‘sponsored’ by a UK business, with the UK firm having to apply and pay at least £536 for four years of sponsoring rights, plus a £199 fee for each worker’s sponsorship certificate, and an annual ‘immigration skills charge’ of at least £364/year. 

The job must typically involve high-level skills – for example, ‘chefs’ are eligible but not ‘cooks’ – and it should pay at least £25,600/year. The employee must apply for a visa, with a fee of at least £625 and an annual healthcare charge of £624. 

Thibault Dufresne, a CEI director who formerly ran the centre, said: “We helped young French speakers who wanted to work and learn English and it was a great support to them as, over the years, we’d made links with many businesses. 

‘Before, a young person could come, without even speaking good English’

“Before, a young person could come, without even speaking good English, and we found them a job the next day. It was an entry point for those who wanted to go abroad and learn English and for many it was their first job, aged 18, 19, or 20 years old – in sectors like hotels and restaurants, home help, transport and building, where the UK is now going to face shortages. 

“It was appreciated by the firms – we understood their needs. Now firms have to sponsor people and they need visas, it’s a whole different thing. 

“It’s for highly qualified work and they can’t just come over and find a job from one day to the next.” 

Mr Dufresne said French restaurants in London are struggling as a result, and often open only either at midday or in the evening. 

Among those they used to help, around a third stayed a few months, a third a year to three years, and another third settled down long-term. 

The CEI continues to work with the UK in organising school exchange programmes and youth language trips, Mr Dufresne said.

Related links

Fears over UK’s challenging mixed nationality rules following Brexit

Language tests for multi-year residency cards on agenda for French MPs

Five tips to mastering the French language when you move to France

Blog: How the cost of living crisis, Brexit and Covid have affected hair salon and wig supplier – Rhyl Journal

A HAIR salon and wig supplier is “holding its head above water”, despite feeling the pinch amid the cost of living crisis.

Award winning hairdresser Rebecca Morgan-Brennan, who runs Morgan’s Hair, Beauty and Wigs, has spoken about the struggles her salons in Prestatyn and Chester are facing.

Brexit and the pandemic have already cause havoc for Morgan’s; the cost of shipping items from overseas has risen sharply and the salon is experiencing difficulties sourcing certain products.

Now, in response to the energy crisis, Rebecca is closing her salon doors every other Saturday.

“Obviously the struggle of the increase in energy costs is massive,” Rebecca said. 

“We have got the salon in Prestatyn, which is a really big salon, and what we have now done is close every other Saturday. That is more so because we want to give our staff a better work / life balance but we do open four late nights now. Monday to Thursday we open until 8pm and this is also because we want to try and give clients more opportunities. If they are clients, working clients, they don’t have to spend every working Saturday in the salon and also my staff can be with their families every other weekend.

“We are starting to introduce this to our salon in Chester so we will be closed every other Saturday at our salon in Chester and opening late nights there.”

The events of the past 18 months have resulted in huge problems in the manufacturing and supply of wigs, especially those made of human hair.

Rebecca, who has opened a training academy at her Chester salon and starts her studies to become a Trichologist (hair loss specialist) this September, said: “A lot of the wigs we buy come from one of our suppliers in Germany and with Brexit, obviously the cost of shipping and the cost of tax has increased our wig prices by at least 25 per cent. 

“We are also struggling wtih getting the wigs as well as a lot of them come over from Asian companies, especially human hair. We have real difficulty getting human hair, like a big big problem. We literally had some delivered the other day and we ordered them in January.

“A lot of these countries are still struggling with Covid. They are also not getting the workers back who make the wigs because a lot of the people have to go back to the small villages where they came from. They are also struggling to get hair as well because a lot of the people have gone back to the small villages and they haven’t returned to places where the manufacturers or factories in China where they are making a lot of the wigs.”

Rebecca has voiced concern that in North Wales, the amount of money people are given towards a wig voucher in the NHS hasn’t increased in seven years.

Rebecca said: “That is a bit of a problem because the prices of wigs have really quadrupled, again, going back to human hair, that has gone up by at least 100 per cent.

“A wig that would have normally cost £700 is costing £1,500 and that is hell of a lot of money and it is really bad because it means people have to change the way they look and they don’t want to. They are conscious enough in themselves about how they look when they haven’t got any hair so this is a difficulty that we are also having.”

Morgan’s launched their own brand of hair care products after not being able to get hold of the items from their usual supplier [an Italian brand].

“Again, it is the whole Brexit thing,” Rebecca explained.

“We have had our own brand of hair care products made which is even better for us. They are Vegan and we are hoping to make them a bit more sustainable for the future so we can reduce the amount of packaging so we can get refillables or even hair shampoo / conditioner as a bar.

“All our products, or the majority of our products, are made in the UK.”

Morgan’s has only increased its prices once in the last four years.

“We try to keep our prices as reasonable as possible,” Rebecca said.

“We have employed members of staff so I want to make sure they are rewarded financially for their expertise and time and effort that they have put into becoming the stylist that they are.”

Rebecca and Morgan’s have won a string of awards. This year, at the British Hair and Beauty awards 2022, Morgan’s scooped Silver in the category Entrepreneur of the Year.

Rebecca has also been named a finalist for ‘Female of the Year 2022’ in the Cheshire Business Awards. The winners will be revealed in November. 

Rebecca added: “Morgan’s has gone from strength to strength over the last nine years. Next year is our 10th year and our team is growing. We’ve got really good staff, the standard is very high, so we do have a lot of return and repeat clients. We are always putting our staff on courses, learning new skills.

“We have to make sure what we are charging will cover our cost of everything. Colours, prices of foil, etc.

“The prices of everything has gone up but we are holding our head above water and doing ok.”

 

Blog: After Liz Truss’ budget disaster, Labour has a chance to rip open the Brexit debate again – iNews

This is Ian Dunt’s Week, a subscriber-only newsletter from i. If you’d like to get this direct to your inbox, every single week, you can sign up here.

Good afternoon. A new dawn has broken, has it not?

That poll is quite something to look at. If you haven’t seen it, let me be the person to break it to you. If you have seen it, let’s go through the intense rush of euphoric joy all over again.

The latest YouGov poll gives Labour a 33 point lead. We’ll just write it out again for fun. The latest YouGov gives Labour a 33 point lead. Not a drill. An actual thing that is actually happening.

I honestly thought it was a joke when I first saw it. But no. It is bona fide. The gap is being expanded by direct switches from Conservative to Labour. Seventeen per cent of those who voted Tory in 2019 now say they’ll vote Labour. Keir Starmer’s “best prime minister” support is at 44 per cent, compared to Liz Truss’ 15 per cent.

And it’s not just YouGov. Survation gives Labour a 21 point lead, Deltapoll 19 points and Redfield and Wilton 17 points.

If this were replicated at the general election, it would mean the complete annihilation of the Conservative party. But of course it won’t be. Things will improve for the party, one way or another. The crunch point of the short campaign, when the parties fight it out just before polling day, almost always benefits the incumbent.

A narrative-creating moment

But one thing is clear. The last week has been absolutely pivotal. It was one of those elemental moments in politics, when all sorts of personalities and events combine to create a firm and widespread public impression. You could almost feel it happening around you: millions of minds being made up. It was a narrative-creating moment.

If Labour plays its cards right, the party can dine out on it for years. It’s like finding a cupboard packed to the rim with notes saying there’s no money left.

Truss is now in an impossible position. If she backs down, she’s finished. If she continues, she’s finished. If she reintroduces austerity to regain market credibility, she’s finished. If she raises taxes to regain market credibility, she’s finished. And if she does not regain market credibility, she is also finished.

The bargain basement Westminster tactical gambit is for her to sack Kwasi Kwarteng, a man who might now go down in history as the least competent Chancellor of the Exchequer in the modern period. But that move won’t save her either. Everyone knows she signed off on this. Everyone knows she was behind it. Everyone knows she believes in it.

The best case scenario is that she can cling on for long enough for underlying conditions to improve. It’s not impossible. There are some signs that energy prices are high due to European attempts to bulk up winter storage, rather than purely being the result of Putin peaks. That indicates they may now fall more than expected. It’s possible that people’s perception of reduced inflation would then lead them to make less ambitious demands in pay talks, which would help subdue price rises. Who knows? Maybe things will get marginally better.

Labour’s revamped image

But that, of course, is not the most likely outcome. The most likely outcome is that we see a savagely unpopular prime minister battle her way through a horrific winter of high energy prices, inflation, strikes and a collapsing NHS, armed only with the charisma of a rotting potato. And then, at some point – maybe before Christmas, maybe in a year, maybe at a general election in two years – she is put out of her misery.

One of the greatest dangers to her comes from a shift in the assumptions around British politics as a result of this week. Polls like this, in circumstances like these, change things. Look at how many more businesspeople there were at the Labour conference this year already. They’re re-establishing relations. The general sense is settling that Labour is the government is waiting and you better do business with it. That process will now speed up.

The same applies to journalists. Watch the press. Even The Telegraph, The Sun and The Express have seemed alarmed over what happened. The Mail was entering into a Twilight Zone alternate reality, where the chaos of the markets was dismissed as much as possible. But even it put the YouGov poll on the front page today.

It’s not completely unthinkable that the Murdoch staples of The Times and The Sun back Labour over the next couple of years. And even without that, you get the sense of things turning, of journalists talking about Starmer in a different tone, of taking the opposition party more seriously. And as they do so, public mood will consolidate around that.

New things are becoming possible

Things are now becoming possible that were not previously possible. Take Europe, the great silent still-beating heart of our national debate – causing all sorts of damage, but rarely referred to directly. If Labour comes back into power in a couple of years, they will inherit an absolute economic mess in which growth is the sole criteria of success. It’ll still be too early to call for EU membership. But it would not be too early to call for customs union or single market membership – perhaps during term one, or perhaps for inclusion in the manifesto for term two. From that position, anything is possible.

And there’s something more, something which goes even deeper than individual policy decisions. It’s about our sense of how politics should be conducted. Are you competent? Do you acknowledge objective reality? Do you open yourself up to scrutiny and expertise? Do you place empiricism above dogma? Are you putting serious people in top positions? In short: are you a clown car? Finally these questions have broken free of despairing blogs by technical experts online and into the pubs and high streets.

We’ve now seen the ultimate destination of the clown car. It beeps and whistles and promises you all sorts of shit. But it is driving you off a fucking cliff. So now, finally, it’s possible that the public perception is not just about swapping blue for red, one for the other. It is about demanding people who will act responsibly in the national interest. And that fact is worth much more, and could do considerably more good, than even a 33 point poll Labour lead.

What to Watch This Weekend: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Very late to this, but I was put off for years by name. I mean, just look at it. Sounds like the worst kind of dross. But after being forced to watch the opening episode this week I am fully engaged. Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna’s musical comedy about relationships, mental health and that low wattage terror of being in your early 30s is an absolute delight: funny, kind, odd, wry and ballsy. It does something which is extremely difficult – making quite serious and complicated ideas feel utterly effortless and candy-coated. I’ve that lovely feeling you get coming to something late, of knowing there’s a full four seasons of it ahead of you.

I ordered this LP during lockdown. It arrived last week. Fuck knows what happened to that thing. In the meantime I forgot I ordered it and had drifted away from the album. But putting it on now I was reminded of how good it was, all over again.

Owusu, a Ghanian Australian, has made something both refreshingly new and reassuringly old here. It sounds like nothing else, a crazed but elegant mixture of hip hop, rock, R&B and pop. There’s at least half a dozen bona fide bangers on there, absolute top class tracks that would hit number one in single form if the world made any sense. But it is, at heart, a concept album, with ideas and themes running through all the songs – particularly on the phrase “black dog”, which combines mental health with racism. One of those albums which demands you actually give it some proper thought.

What to Read This Weekend: Collateral Calls on Bond Vigilantes

For those trying to figure out what in the name of unholy fuck happened when the Bank of England stepped in last Wednesday to buy 30-year bonds, this blog makes for invaluable reading. The whole language around bond markets – yields, gilts, bonds, securities – is incredibly unhelpful for building decent public understanding of what is happening, a fact that is particularly irritating given that the causal chains are hard enough on their own without making the terminology so infuriating.

This blog goes some way towards clarifying it. But in truth, if this is going to keep going for some time, we need more writers providing easy to read accounts of financial events.

This is Ian Dunt’s Week, a subscriber-only newsletter from i. If you’d like to get this direct to your inbox, every single week, you can sign up here.

Blog: Eurostar cancels services as Brexit border checks cut capacity by 30% – Euronews

Border checks for British travellers introduced after Brexit have caused Eurostar’s peak capacity to drop by 30 per cent.

The rail operator is also facing “unique” financial pressures in the aftermath of the pandemic, having been hit hard by travel restrictions. It also says it is dealing with a shortage of engineers.

MP Huw Merriman, chair of the UK’s transport select committee, recently wrote to Eurostar enquiring about the closure of Ebbsfleet and Ashford international stations in Kent and the end of the company’s Disneyland Paris service.

This week he released the responses from outgoing Eurostar chief Jacques Damas, detailing the issues the company was facing.

Brexit border checks are slowing down Eurostar passengers

“Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, additional border checks apply to UK citizens seeking to enter Schengen,” Damas writes.

Since roughly 40 per cent of Eurostar’s customers are British, this has caused a “significant increase in the processing times at these stations.”

Stamping passports adds at least 15 seconds to each passenger’s border crossing time, Damas explains in the letter. While that may not seem like a lot, with millions of people boarding the service every year, it adds up. On top of that, it makes electronic passport gates less effective as they don’t accept British passports in most EU countries.

In London and Paris, Eurostar says it is trying to remedy the problem. Space is extremely restricted at St Pancras Station but another passport control booth is currently being installed. French passport gates have been upgraded and, in Paris, more UK gates are being added.

But still, peak capacity through the stations is now around 30 per cent lower than it was before Brexit, the Eurostar chief says.

“Even with all booths manned, St Pancras can currently process a maximum 1,500 passengers per hour vs. 2200 in 2019.”

He goes on to add that the restricted timetables and limited capacity trains that have been running post-Brexit are the only way that the company can avoid daily queues in the centre of London. Damas compares the situation to the long lines seen at ferry ports after Brexit.

It means that Eurostar is unable to respond to the “high demand” for services linking capital cities. Reopening the Ebbsfleet and Ashford International stations in Kent would put too high of a strain on local police resources.

Eurostar faces other problems that could lead to delays

The EU is looking to introduce its Entry/Exit System (EES) by the end of May 2023. This large-scale IT system will see third-country nationals – non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizens – automatically monitored at border crossings.

The aim is for this to replace passport stamps at border crossing points into the Schengen area like airports and seaports. Damas writes that the uncertainty regarding the EES “hangs over” Eurostar.

He also lists other concerns around the current economic climate in the UK and EU. People are working from home more, cutting the number of commuters using the service. While the energy crisis means costs are going up putting both passengers and the company under pressure.

Merriman posted the responses on Twitter, saying that the UK’s transport select committee will write to the “new Minister and Rail Regulator” sharing these “observations and interventions to support Eurostar; a vital cog in our transport system.”