Blog: Elton John requests meeting with PM over post-Brexit touring rules – The London Economic

Sir Elton John said he has requested a meeting with Boris Johnson and is “on the warpath” over visa issues for musicians touring in the European Union.

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the bloc and have prompted fears that touring artists will incur large fees in many of the countries they visit.

In August, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had negotiated with 19 EU countries to allow British musicians and performers to conduct short tours without the need for a visa, but this was condemned by Sir Elton as a “rehash of what we already know”.

Rocket Hour

Speaking during his Rocket Hour show on Apple Music 1, the chart-topping singer claimed the Prime Minister has yet to respond to his appeal for a meeting.

The 74-year-old said: “The Rocket Hour has a special theme this week. Every artist that I’m going to play is a young British artist who at the moment is not able to tour because of what happened with the Brexit situation.

“What has happened is that it’s impossible for young artists financially to pay for visas, negotiate their way through all of the red tape that’s necessary for going to Europe.

“It’s financially impossible for them to do so. So I’m on the warpath to try and get this sorted out. And I’ve requested a meeting with Boris Johnson; I’ve yet to hear back from him.”

Sir Elton, who was recently forced to delay his forthcoming European and UK tour due to injury, said travelling abroad and playing to foreign audiences is “imperative” for the development of burgeoning British talent.

“It’s very important because, when I was a young man, I went to Germany when I was 17, I didn’t earn very much, but it just gave me a taste of what travelling abroad was like and different cultures.

“And it’s so imperative for young artists to have that opportunity to do that. It makes them grow as songwriters, as artists and as human beings. And it’s their right to be able to tour wherever they want to do.

“And so, at the moment they can’t, but we’re going to try and fix it.”

“A desperate thing”

Closing his show, Sir Elton promised “to continue to try and fight for this because it’s a desperate thing that’s holding young artists back”.

Urging listeners to lobby their local MP, he added: “I’m always astonished by the amount of young talent that comes out of Great Britain and it breaks my heart that these people are being held back by these ridiculous Brexit rules.

“Britain is a hotbed of talent. And if you listened to this show today, you heard songs by incredible young artists.

“That’s proving my point. And I will constantly try and improve the situation and get it sorted out.”

In June, Sir Elton revealed that he and husband David Furnish had previously had a meeting with Brexit minister Lord Frost and Craig Stanley, an agent at the Marshal Arts touring agency, to discuss post-Brexit touring.

A Government spokesman said: “We have spoken to every member state and 19 have confirmed musicians and performers do not require visas or work permits for short-term tours.

“The duration of visa and work permit-free touring varies from member state to member state, and for many, including France and Germany, it is for up to three months. 

“Travellers should check what requirements they need to fulfil with the EU member state they are travelling to, and we are working with member states to ensure they have in place clear guidance.”

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Blog: Will Scottish independence really be ‘Brexit times ten’? –

Scottish civil servants are to start work on a ‘detailed prospectus’ for independence so the Scottish government can hold another referendum ‘when the Covid crisis has passed’, Nicola Sturgeon announced
earlier this month.

The irony of this – coming just days before the
Office for National Statistics reported that the percentage of Scots testing positive in a single week for Covid-19 equated to around one in 45 people – was lost on the First Minister. These things happen when you’re busy fighting to free your people from the tyranny of liberal democracy and free society in one of the richest places on earth.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney subsequently went further when he
promised a ‘financial prospectus’ on separation that will be ‘open and comprehensive and transparent’. Quite the challenge then for Scotland’s civil servants. Can they produce an honest prospectus on the realities of independence?

Whatever they come up with, it had better be an improvement on 2013’s Scotland’s Future, which turned out to be a fantastical piece of spin that failed to produce much needed hard analysis in key areas. Scotland’s projected fiscal position, for example, was relegated to one short section in the 650-page report. What lessons can be learned, and what should the new analysis include?

Any new report should have in-depth sections on trade, the border with England, deficit and debt, and currency. It should avoid pointless padding and banalities, which both the 2013 paper and the SNP’s updated version, its 2018 Growth Commission report, were guilty of (if only someone had said before that Scotland should aspire to increased productivity!). Crucially, any new paper should include detailed scenario analysis, which was a common feature of reports produced by the UK government on the build up to Brexit.

A useful benchmark might be the UK government’s November 2018 paper: EU Exit, Long-term economic analysis. It modelled the outcome of four scenarios, ranging from a no-deal Brexit to the then government’s preferred arrangement of an association agreement designed to limit trade friction outside the single market and customs union. Commendably, the paper was honest enough to show that any new arrangement would negatively impact British GDP compared to where it would be under continued EU membership.

A new Scottish civil service-produced paper should aim to be similarly robust and candid. It could present best-case and worst-case scenarios, modelling the economic impact of a smooth divorce in line with Scottish government-preferred timings as well as a non-amicable outcome based on a speedy and messy separation.

Importantly, such a paper, like the 2018 Brexit paper, will have to recognise there is no scenario in which Scotland can depart the UK without economic damage. All scenarios involve crystallising a large and unsustainable deficit by leaving the UK fiscal union, while Sturgeon’s government also plans to leave the formal sterling zone with a switch to a risky emerging market-style currency arrangement. These changes would happen overnight on secession day. Other changes that might or might not happen overnight, such as the loss of UK regulatory oversight across industry, will also have to be factored in.

It is inconceivable that this sort of momentous change, unprecedented for an advanced economy, can happen without inflicting serious damage on Scotland. This is the accepted view among respected economists, some of whom have warned
of the real risk of a crippling crisis after independence. Even professor Mark Blyth, who sits on the Scottish government’s own economic advisory council, said recently that if deconstructing 30 years of integration with Europe hurts, as per the UK and Brexit, then breaking apart a 300-year-old, much more integrated union will hurt even more. ‘It’s Brexit times ten,’ said Blyth.

That brings us to another crucial component of any upcoming civil service white paper: it must accept the high probability of a severe economic crisis in the months, or even weeks, after independence. It must outline how such a crisis will impact people day-to-day and what emergency measures might be needed in response.

The instigation of capital controls to stem a flood of currency abroad is one obvious possibility; you can picture the news interview with a wealthy Edinburgh resident just turned away from the border checkpoint at Berwick with a suitcase full of cash. 

If the government is short of sterling to pay public sector wages and other liabilities, what emergency measures will be brought in to deal with that? The rapid introduction of a new Scottish currency so a Scottish central bank can start printing cash, perhaps? Or an appeal for emergency assistance from abroad? Which parts of the public sector will be given priority to keep functioning while others are closed to save money?

If Sturgeon is serious about producing an honest prospectus then answers to these questions and more will form part of the new white paper. The people of Scotland deserve it. Let’s have some project reality for a change.

Blog: ‘Pointless nonsense!’ Angry Scots erupt at Brexit masterplan to bring back pounds & ounces – Daily Express

The return to imperial measures in UK shops is a move suggested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government in a newly released list of “Brexit opportunities”. The change comes as the EU required goods to be sold in metric measurements, but since the UK’s withdrawal from the trading bloc, traders can return to the previous system.

The list was announced by the government on Thursday afternoon, with Lord Frost saying: “We now have the opportunity to do things differently and ensure Brexit freedoms are used to help businesses and citizens get on and succeed.”

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “Now we’ve left, we can change our laws and free industry to zoom and soar.”

GB News’ Nigel Farage, deemed the change as “Great news”, and the former leader of UKIP claimed that “Brexit is making us more British”.

However the move was not met with elation from individuals in Scotland.

SNP’s Murray Foote quoted Mr Farage’s response, stating: “Wait until he finds out that the system of using pounds and ounces was developed during trade throughout Europe and is called … avoirdupois”.

Avoirdupois is the French term for the system of pounds and ounces, which was overhauled from 1974 onwards when metric measurements became the new norm.

Scottish LibDem Christine Jardine admitted “I have no idea what imperial weights and measures are… anyone?”, a sentiment likely to be echoed by those who weren’t taught the measurement after the EU favoured measurements were introduced.

READ MORE: Brexit triumph! Crown stamp FINALLY on pint glasses after 15 years

The master plan was dubbed “pointless nonsense” though by SNP president Michael Russell.

He said: “The very definition of gesture politics. Backward looking, #Brexiteer pandering, pointless nonsense”.

While Glasgow East MP David Linden believed the change “won’t make much difference” in his area as they face other issues including lack of deliveries.

He wrote: “Changing weights and measures won’t make much difference to my constituents at the supermarket when they a) don’t have enough money in their pockets as it is and b) the Prime Minister’s botched Brexit deal means we’ve got no HGV drivers to deliver stuff to the shops…”

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Further criticism came from SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, Kirsten Oswald, who said that Scotland can do “much better” and questioned why this was a “priority” for the Prime Minister.

She said: “At a time when we are facing critical staff and food shortages, rising costs, food rotting in fields, businesses losing trade, and mountains of red tape – it beggars belief that the Prime Minister believes this is a priority”.

Also included on the list of pledges is the return of the Crown Stamp on pint glasses, a move which the Conservative government said would allow businesses to “embrace this important symbol on their glassware”.

The symbol, used to indicate that the pint or half pint glass you were handed was genuine, was replaced in favour of a CE mark, meaning European Conformity, under EU rules.

The new legislation though means that the symbol prohibited by Brussels will now be re-allowed, after it was described as an “important symbol” of Britishness.

Elsewhere in the overhaul are plans for new digital driving licences and MoT certificates plus faster access to medical reforms and life-saving drugs.

Blog: Brexit POLL: Should Boris get tough with Biden in imminent talks amid fears US backs EU? – Daily Express

The Prime Minister is hoping to hold face-to-face talks with Joe Biden during his four-day visit. It comes after relations between the two countries have become increasingly frayed in recent months.

Mr Johnson was said to have felt “let down” by how the US pulled out from Afghanistan last month – leaving the other foreign forces with little option but to also go.

Meanwhile the US President is reported to be siding with the EU in its dispute with Brexit Britain over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

How do you think Mr Johnson should approach the talks?

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Government sources said Mr Johnson will try to mend fences during the trip which also focuses on a meeting with world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Mr Johnson is also set to use next week’s meeting to press Mr Biden and other leaders to firm up commitments on climate change ahead of November’s COP26 summit.

Despite recent tensions, insiders insist that relations between the countries remain strong – pointing to the new AUKUS security pact agreed on Wednesday.

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Unveiling the tri-nation agreement during a virtual press conference, Mr Biden and Mr Johnson were joined by Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In news that reportedly “blindsided” France, the three nations announced that they were working together to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

It was widely seen as an effort to tackle China’s growing influence in the region and firmly puts Australia in the US camp as the two superpowers continue to jostle for dominance.

The alliance is probably the most significant security arrangement between the three nations since World War Two, analysts say.

It will focus on military capability, separating it from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance which also includes New Zealand and Canada.

AUKUS will also involve the sharing of cyber capabilities and other undersea technologies.

“This is an historic opportunity for the three nations, with like-minded allies and partners, to protect shared values and promote security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” the joint statement read.

Blog: French bemoan M&S closure as Brexit shortages ‘really bad sign for Paris’ amid Covid blow – Daily Express

M&S confirmed this week plans to shut down 11 of its 26 flagship stores across amid growing post- supply chain issues. Parisians have lamented the closure of the main St Germaine shop in the heart of the French capital as a “pity” for consumers of British goods. One woman told France 24: “It’s a pity because it’s a shop that had very good products.”

Another woman added: “I had already noticed for some months the shelves were short on stock. And a certain number of goods had unfortunately completely disappeared.”

Author Dana Thomas said M&S’ decision to shut down local shops is a “very bad sign” for the future of Paris as the capital struggles with extensive closures in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.

Ms Thomas said: “The gourmet grocery stores of Paris but not only were as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards for the first six months of this year.

And then they worked it out, you could get some Fortnum&Mason tea and some Digestives again. But the Marks&Spencer pullout is a big sign.”

She continued: “And it’s not just in the food business, it’s also in the fashion business – 42 percent of Britain’s luxury goods are exported to the EU.

“Designers are caught paying in fees, deliveries are late and that cost a lot of money in the luxury fashion business so much so that Paul Smith is talking about moving his production, what little is in the UK, to Europe.

“So, it’s a bad sign for Britain’s economy but it’s also a really bad sign for Paris, which already has a blight of empty stores.

“After Covid, every third store is closed or shut. Madame Le Maire, she wants to run for president, she somehow couldn’t work this out so Marks&Spencer doesn’t close that huge store close to the Apple Store in the heart St Germaine.”

Ms Thomas added: “Leaving it sitting empty is a bad sign for her coming campaign.”

Shops across France only resumed reopening earlier in the summer as the EU country struggled to contain successive waves of coronavirus.

The country’s GDP fell by an estimated €103 billion in the first year of the pandemic due to the severe blow delivered to its tourism industry.

M&S’ International Director Pail fruition said: “M&S has a long history of serving customers in France and this is not a decision we or our partner SFH have taken lightly.

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“As things stand today, the supply chain complexities in place following the UK’s exit from the European Union, now make it near impossible for us to serve fresh and chilled products to customers to the high standards they expect, resulting in an ongoing impact to the performance of our business.”

The 11 stores that will close by the end of this year are located predominantly across the high streets of Paris, while the nine run by Lagardere are located in travel hubs such as airports, railway, and metro stations.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the Brexit process, saying: ” “We believe that the approach we have taken is the correct one.

“It is something that the public voted for and it is already bringing benefits to the public.”

Blog: UK faces being crippled by ‘perfect storm’ of Covid, Brexit and soaring gas prices – Daily Mail

Britain is facing up to a bleak end to the year, with a fresh threat of food shortages coming amid an imminent hike in the cost of living.

A lack of lorry drivers in recent weeks, along with the effects of the ‘pingdemic’ in previous months, has seen many supermarket shelves left bare.

Now the food supply chain is up against a new challenge, after soaring gas prices forced much of the country’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down.

The industry describes the gas as being fundamental to producing and transporting supermarket staples like bread and meat, as well as beer and fizzy drinks.

Some fear businesses have less than two weeks before their stocks of CO2 begin to run out, with one boss describing the crisis as a ‘black swan type of event’, adding that ministers and supermarket giants were only now appreciating the knock-on effects on agriculture and production. 

Crisis talks between Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, gas producers, suppliers and regulator Ofgem are being held today to discuss the extent of the impact of the surging prices. 

Meanwhile, the Government is being urged by meat producers to step in to protect the food supply chain, after the sharp rise in gas prices resulted in a cut in the supply of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the industry.

As well as essentials like food and drink, there have also been reports of shortages of toys ahead of Christmas, and ties as more workers return to the office, while the price of used cars has sky-rocketed to the extent they now cost more than some new models.

The lack of supply in many sectors comes against a backdrop of rising bills for millions of families, many of whom will still be feeling the brutal effects of the pandemic on the economy.

Experts warn today that household costs could soar by more than £1,500 a year, putting Britons on the cusp of the biggest spending squeeze in nearly a decade. 

Money experts said a ‘perfect storm’ of price and tax hikes could push family finances to the limit across the country. 

Britain is facing up to a bleak end to the year, with a fresh threat of food shortages coming amid an imminent hike in the cost of living

A lack of lorry drivers in recent weeks, along with the effects of the ‘pingdemic’ in previous months, has seen many supermarket shelves left bare

Now the food supply chain is up against a new challenge, after soaring gas prices forced much of the country’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down

How gas price hikes and carbon dioxide shortages could lead to more empty shelves

Two of England’s biggest fertiliser plants in Teeside and Cheshire – which use the gas to produce ammonium nitrate, which is then used by farmers for their crops – have shut down, leaving bosses concerned over the potential consequences for family essentials.

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processing Association, told the Times: ‘This could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

‘It is potentially a massive challenge for the food industry when we are already facing huge issues.’

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he added: ‘If we haven’t got the CO2 supplies, on the packaging side that reduces the shelf-life of products going on the shelves at a time when we are really struggling because of all the transport problems.

‘This has come as a huge shock, it has happened so quickly. I think everyone is outraged in the industry that these fertiliser plants can shut down without any warning whatsoever and suddenly take something which is so essential to the food supply chain off-stream just like that.

‘We really need Government to step in now and actually do something.’

Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will talk with chief executives from gas producers, suppliers and regulator Ofgem today to discuss the extent of the impact of the surging prices. 

He tweeted this morning: ‘Today I’ll be speaking to chief executives of the UK’s largest energy suppliers + operators to discuss the global gas situation.

‘Britain has a diverse range of gas supply sources, with sufficient capacity to more than meet demand. We do not expect supply emergencies this winter.

‘Energy security is an absolute priority. We are working closely with @ofgem and gas operators to monitor supply and demand.’

It is understood Mr Kwarteng has meetings today with senior executives from Ofgem, Centrica, National Grid, Energy UK, Octopus, Ovo, SSE, EDF, ScottishPower, Shell Energy, E.ON, Bulb and SGN. 

Two of England’s biggest fertiliser plants – which use carbon dioxide to produce ammonium nitrate, which is then used by farmers for their crops – have shut down, leaving bosses concerned over the potential consequences for family essentials

Russia’s state-owned energy firm, Gazprom, is now facing an investigation into the rise in price. Lawmakers said they were suspicious of the company’s ‘effort to pressure’ Europe to agree a fast launch to its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline (pictured)

Government sources have reportedly told the BBC there is no threat to the UK’s gas supplies, but potential impacts on small energy companies most at risk of exposure are being monitored.

A Government spokesperson told the broadcaster: ‘The UK benefits from having access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at a fair price.

‘We are monitoring this situation closely and are in regular contact with the food and farming organisations and industry, to help them manage the current situation.’

It comes after Russia was last night accused of rigging the prices of gas to damage Britain’s economic recovery from Covid.

The country’s state-owned energy firm, Gazprom, is now facing an investigation into the rise in price. 

And more than 40 MEPs last night signed a letter to the company in which they accused it of ‘deliberate market manipulation’.

A group of European Parliament lawmakers has asked the European Commission to investigate Gazprom’s role in soaring European gas prices, saying the company’s behaviour had made them suspect market manipulation.

Gas prices in Europe have surged in recent months, helping to drive European electricity costs to multi-year highs. 

Electricity prices in the UK skyrocketed to 11 times above normal levels on Monday. 

In a letter to the EU’s executive Commission around 40 of the Parliament’s 700 lawmakers said they suspected Russia’s Gazprom had acted to push up gas prices.

‘We call on the European Commission to urgently open an investigation into possible deliberate market manipulation by Gazprom and potential violation of EU competition rules,’ said the letter.

In response to the accusations, Gazprom said it supplied its customers with gas in full compliance with existing contracts.

Families are now on the cusp of the biggest spending squeeze in nearly a decade as bills and prices rise relentlessly

The perfect storm that sent prices spiralling 

A combination of events has caused wholesale gas and power prices to spike, meaning household energy bills are set to soar:

  • A fire earlier this week shut down a key cable that brings power into Britain from France. The IFA interconnector in Kent can transmit enough electricity for two million homes – but it will not be at full capacity until next March.
  • A long winter meant European countries built lower gas stocks than usual over the summer. Russia has also been providing less gas to Europe, which many believe is a way to pressure leaders into switching to a controversial pipeline, Nord Stream 2.
  • The UK has very little gas storage capacity, which leaves it at the mercy of imports.
  • The price of tankers bringing in the liquefied form of natural gas has surged as Asian economies have recovered, and shipping delays have compounded this further. A lack of wind recently means that less renewable power has been generated. Coal power plants are now having to be fired up so Britain can keep the lights on.

Rising household bills could leave millions of families out of pocket 

Energy prices have rocketed this week, leading to suppliers pulling deals and predictions that average households could soon face paying over £400 extra a year on power bills.

A year ago, the best one-year fixed deal on comparison website Energy Helpline was £855 – but last night the cheapest available was more than double that at £1,895.

Analysts Baringa project that some 39 suppliers could collapse in the next 12 months, leaving just 10 firms dominating the market.

To help those companies deal with surging costs, regulator Ofgem will raise its price cap again, according to the Times, meaning 15 million customers on variable tariffs face paying hundreds of pounds more.  

Dermot Nolan, a former Ofgem chief executive, said the increases were the result of depleted stocks following a cold winter last winter, reduced supply from Russia, and increased demand for liquefied natural gas from the Far East.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘It is not obvious to me what can be done in the very short run. Britain does have secure relatively diverse sources of gas, so I think the lights will stay on.

‘But I am afraid it is likely in my view that high gas and high electricity prices will be sustained for the next three to four months.

‘It is very difficult to see what the Government can do directly in this regard.’  

Elsewhere, petrol prices have also blown up, with the cost of filling a 50-litre tank rising from £56.55 to £67.30 since August last year.

The price of food and drink in shops and supermarkets rose by 1.1 per cent in August – the highest rate since 2008 – as retailers battled supply shortages and higher costs.

Train fares, telephone and internet bills, and other day-to-day expenses are also increasing, while Boris Johnson’s health and social care levy means workers will have to pay an extra 1.25 percentage point in tax from next year.

There are also fears of hefty council tax rises – and there could be more bad news in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget next month.

A long winter meant European countries built lower gas stocks than usual over the summer. Russia has also been providing less gas to Europe, which many believe is a way to pressure leaders into switching to a controversial pipeline, Nord Stream 2 

Insurance experts warned that premiums will rise in January when firms are banned from reserving their best deals for new customers.

Inflation jumped from 2 per cent in July to 3.2 per cent last month in the biggest spike since 1997.

The figures, compiled for the Daily Mail by Hargreaves Lansdown, show it could all add up to cost average families an extra £132 a month – or £1,584 a year – in what will be the biggest rise in household spending costs since 2012.

Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at the investment company, said: ‘This is a squeeze on spending at a time when many people’s financial resilience has taken a beating as a result of the pandemic.’

Energy firms have this week pulled nearly all fixed deals from sale on price comparison sites as wholesale gas prices hit record highs. And some believe the power price surge means some suppliers will not survive the winter. 

Jane Lucy, of the auto-switching site Labrador, said: ‘It is not unrealistic to think that at least half a dozen firms could collapse this winter.’

Energy regulator Ofgem’s price cap protects around 15million households on standard variable tariffs. The cap has already risen by £139 to stop average standard variable tariff bills going above £1,277 – but experts said the wholesale price rises mean the cap may have to be raised a further £280 in the new year.

Myron Jobson, personal finance campaigner at Interactive Investor, says: ‘Consumers face a bleak reality of higher utility bills in the winter months. It will cost more to power the washing machine and even take a hot shower this winter.’

Laura Suter, of investment firm AJ Bell, said: ‘These increases will have a big impact on many families who were just about managing before.’

Families are warned to shop for festive gifts early amid fears of a toy shortage 

It may still be summer, but families were warned last night to buy toys for Christmas now to avoid tears under the tree (stock image)

It may still be summer, but families were warned this week to buy toys for Christmas now to avoid tears under the tree.

The Covid-related disruption to global shipping that has left supermarkets without some product lines also threatens to affect deliveries of toys from China, where most are made.

Perhaps to get parents in the mood for an early spree, grocers are selling mince pies – more than three months before Christmas.

Toys expected to be a hit this year include Lego sets, including its Elf Club House, at £84.99. Lego is also selling Advent calendars featuring Star Wars and Marvel characters.

Batman vs Superman Scalextric cars for £39.99 are also likely to be popular, as well as the Ravensburger Planetary Solar System 3D jigsaw puzzle, at £39.99, and soft toys such as the Hoppie Rabbit with Audio Play, at £29.99. The warning about the need to stock up comes from NPD, a business analytics firm.

Frédérique Tutt, its global toy industry expert, said: ‘Shortages are a big concern for most makers. With anticipated supply chain shortages and resultant price increases on the cards, people need to shop early.

‘Retailers and brands are trying to bring their stock shipments forward, but are expecting shortages to hit well before Christmas.’

In addition to shipping issues, the UK is said to be short of 90,000 HGV drivers, triggering fears that gaps on shelves will get worse.

However, the early crop of mince pies might cheer up some shoppers – even if it does infuriate traditionalists.

The Central England Co-op, which has shops across the middle of the country from West Yorkshire to East Anglia, said it had begun selling mince pies after customers asked when they’d become available.

It said: ‘They also want to stock up ahead of any potential food shortages.’

Packs of mince pies have also been spotted at some Asda and Iceland outlets.

Natalie Smith, of Central England Co-op, said: ‘For months, colleagues have been inundated with requests for when Christmas products will be on sale, especially mince pies.

‘While we know that hearing about anything festive related this early is not for everyone, for some they cannot wait.’

Used cars are worth MORE than new models

Analysis found a second-hand Dacia Sandero was typically being advertised for £12,398, significantly higher than its average new price of £10,172.92

The average second-hand car is increasing in value by 20% within the first six months of being sold, shocking figures have revealed.

While cars are notorious for depreciating in value – usually by five per cent after leaving the forecourt – an unprecedented demand for used vehicles coupled with a chronic supply shortage for new cars has reversed the age-old trend.

Experts have described the anomaly as a ‘once-in-a-generation development’.

It comes as commuters who moved further out of the cities due to the Covid-19 pandemic are now in need of a car to get to work, while white-collar workers who saved more than expected and are looking to splash the cash.

This has been paired with a global shortage of semiconductor microchips, which are essential for the operating systems of all vehicles, making new cars difficult to manufacture, hence causing an unprecedented demand for used vehicles.

An investigation by The Times found the price of some cars rose by almost £10,000 in the space of five months and continued to increase.

‘What we are seeing here is absolutely unprecedented — a once-in-a-generation development that is turning the rules of car valuations on its head,’ Derren Martin, head of valuations for Cap HPI, a vehicle valuation service, said.

‘Second-hand cars are appreciating, rather than depreciating, in value.’

The semiconductor microchips needed to make new cars have been in short supply due to Covid-related closures in factories from Turkey to China.

The same chips are also used in PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles, which have been bought in record numbers for children confined to their homes during global lockdowns, only adding to the supply shortage.

Britain’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has cut its forecast for new car registrations for 2021 by 24 per cent, from 2.4 million to 1.8 million.

Last month, it reported the worst July for UK automotive production since 1956.

A Toyota Yaris GR, meanwhile, was being advertised at £35,967 compared with its new price of £30,963.33

It comes as a study by Cap HPI showed how 52 six-month-old vehicles with 5,000 miles on the clock gained in value significantly compared with when they were brand new.

The analysis found a second-hand Dacia Sandero was typically being advertised for £12,398, significantly higher than its average new price of £10,172.92.

A Toyota Yaris GR, meanwhile, was being advertised at £35,967 compared with its new price of £30,963.33.

According to the Times, Renault in Wolverhampton is advertising a Dacia Sandero 1.0 Comfort, manufactured this year and with 159 miles on the clock, for £13,450 — more than £2,000 above its new price.

Elsewhere a Toyota Yaris Hybrid 1.5, manufactured this year with 3,040 miles on the clock, is listed at Stephen Eagell Toyota in Milton Keynes for £23,225. Its original cost as new is £21,740.

Car magazine Parkers reported some second-hand cars gaining almost £10,000 in value within five months of being sold.

It looked at three-year-old cars that had 40,000 miles on the clock and compared their forecourt prices today with their value on February 1.

The analysis showed that a second-hand Toyota Auris hybrid had risen, on average, from £9,895 to £14,095 – or by 45 per cent.

Meanwhile a Mazda MX5s soared from £13,395 to £18,995, representing a 41.8 per cent jump.

The cost of a monthly finance plan, however, which sees drivers pay for the car in instalments, has remained stable, as they are calculated by projected values in four years’ time – although experts believe that a correction could come before then.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, the wealth manager, said: ‘Ultimately the best cure for high prices is high prices. Eventually they will reach a level where buyers decide there isn’t enough value on offer for them to justify a purchase.’

Shops suffering tie shortage due to WFH and a lack of weddings 

Britain is also facing a TIE shortage – after shops let stocks dwindle during lockdown and are now struggling to fill demand.

Stores across the UK are running low on ties – after a long period of working from home and less weddings to attend.

Demand for them dropped sharply but have now risen again as people emerge from lockdown – but supplies are low and the situation has been made worse by global delivery issues.

John Lewis stores in London and Cambridge were found to be low on stock, as well as the Plymouth H&M branch.

Some shoppers online are also reporting low levels in store at M&S and Next.

The situation was first raised by BBC Radio Five Live host Nicky Campbell with others on twitter reporting the same problem.

Campbell told listeners he tried to buy a tie at John Lewis’ Oxford Street branch, but was shocked to find none in stock. 

Responding in a statement to Nicky on Five Live, a spokesman for John Lewis said stock levels are still behind.

They said: ‘We’ve seen a huge spike in sales recently as weddings restart and some people head back to the office, which has affected stock levels.

‘Given that sales were so low in the heat of the pandemic. We’re looking to get more stock in a soon as possible.’

A H&M spokesperson said they are unable to comment on sales.

They said: ‘Our stock levels do vary across stores, however we do have a range of ties available at which our customers can purchase from if their local branch is sold out.’

A John Lewis statement said: ‘Ties have been really popular with our customers recently and as always, our focus is on maintaining the best possible range of products for our customers.’

Blog: Post-Brexit import checks delay delivers blow to food and drink businesses – The Scottish Farmer

A FURTHER extension to post-Brexit border controls for goods being imported from the EU to the UK has been touted as a “bitter blow” to Scottish farmers and food and drink producers.

Scottish exporters to the EU have been met with additional costs and burdens since January 2021, however the UK Government has this week granted that EU businesses will be given a further grace period until equivalent import checks come in to force, with controls now to be phased in across 2022.

Read more: Sheep exports to non EU countries up 30% on year

Industry leaders have criticised the move for ‘handing over a competitive advantage’ to EU exporters whilst Scottish farming and food and drink exporters continue to be subject to the extra costs of a one-way system.

Commenting on the announcement, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said: “Those in Scotland and the rest of the UK who have been looking to export to the EU in the past nine months have had to endure crippling post-Brexit costs, additional delays and extra bureaucracy, while those in the EU selling goods here have been largely unaffected.

“Government promises that asymmetric trade would be addressed and a level playing field on costs and paperwork introduced at the start of October have once again been delayed,” he continued.

Read more: Be under no illusion – the EU remains the UK’s most important export market

Changes to import controls from the EU were due to be introduced on October 1, and will now not come in to force until January 2022, with others changes delayed until July 2022.

“Ultimately, we need to see a level playing field on trade between the UK and the EU and we need both parliaments to do considerably more to ensure that as much unnecessary bureaucracy and cost is stripped out as possible.”

Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers wrote recently on Twitter that if further delays were agreed then it would ‘continue one of the starkest Brexit contradictions.’

“When it comes to food and drink, ‘take control of our borders’ actually meant the EU taking control of theirs and the UK waving everything through with no checks,” he wrote.

“A delay might be right given labour shortages in the food supply chain,” he continued, adding that Brexit was one of the biggest causes of this.

“But a delay continues to hand a competitive advantage to EU exporters. They can sell to us with no extra costs, while we face all the trade barriers selling to them.”

However, the UK Government claims the revised timetable will allow businesses more time to adjust to the new process.

“We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we’ve set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls,” announced UK Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Frost.

“Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022.

“The government remains on track to deliver the new systems, infrastructure and resourcing required,” he concluded.