Author: Anthony Robinson

Anthony was a sales engineer, now retired and living in North Yorkshire after a long career representing several European manufacturers in the UK. Seeing first hand how continental companies work and how they strive to become world-class businesses makes him fear for Britain's post-Brexit future. He is interested in politics, although not as an active party member, and enjoys reading, gardening and diy.

Supplying PPE: the new Klondike?

Anthony Robinson

After revealing two extraordinary £108m contracts placed by the government for personal protective equipment (PPE) with companies that have no apparent experience or history of supplying such items, Jolyon Maughan QC seems to have uncovered two more. Providing PPE is becoming the new Klondike and the scandal appears to be getting dangerously close to the […]

Cummings is starting to make the ERG nervous

Anthony Robinson

The letter that Mark Francois sent to Michel Barnier on Friday (see below) looks like a spoof but turns out to be genuine – though it’s difficult to read and keep a straight face at the same time. He describes it as “a missive from a free country.” It was sent just four days before […]

Four years on: the ignorance and the idiocy

Anthony Robinson

Last week’s virtual session of the future relationship select committee has sparked quite a lot of comment after it was revealed that Britain lacked a system or even a plan to handle trucks arriving at Dover. The amazing revelation came from Tim Reardon, head of EU exit at the port of Dover. He told Barry […]

Johnson begs public to set an example for Cummings

Anthony Robinson

In what can only be described as a bizarre reversal of leadership, Boris Johnson this week essentially called on the British people to set an example to his most senior adviser Dominic Cummings on how to properly observe government guidance. He told reporters that it was crucial we “get this right” and appealed to the […]

US healthcare: “Profit-driven corporate model is failing”

Anthony Robinson

A former vice-president of Cigna, an American health insurance company based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, has launched a stinging attack on the US private healthcare system, comparing its dire performance during the pandemic with that of Canada’s mainly publicly funded and universally available arrangements known as Medicare. Using Twitter, Wendell Potter has admitted that his company previously […]

Barnier complains UK is “backtracking” as no deal warnings mount

Anthony Robinson

Michel Barnier gave an interview yesterday to the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, which has Herman Von Rompuy as its president. Some commentators seemed to think Barnier hinted at more flexibility on fishing so it may be that some progress is being made on the substantive matters. The whole 55 minute interview […]

Is York’s chocolate industry under threat from Brexit?

Anthony Robinson

The Food and Drink Federation is the latest to come up with a have-cake-and-eat-it plan, this time on rules of origin. They want the EU to change things for this former member, in order to help maintain trade so that British and EU customers can enjoy the same choice and quality as before, as if […]

EU parliament: no deal is better than a bad deal

Anthony Robinson

This week the EU parliament debated and voted on a motion approving a 137-page report setting out their “Recommendations on the negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The vote took place yesterday and the motion was given what the EU are calling “unwavering support”, with 572 […]

Has Johnson accidentally thrown Cummings under a bus?

Anthony Robinson

How casually the lie came out. The prime minister told the world at his press conference yesterday he only learned about Marcus Rashford’s campaign to get free school meals extended through the summer, earlier in the day. If true he must have been the only person in Britain who didn’t know and I assume therefore that […]

EU parliament turns the screw in deadlocked talks

Anthony Robinson

This weekend the EU parliament officially published the report that was partly leaked to The Guardian recently. It backs Michel Barnier and the EU mandate to the hilt, increasing the pressure on Boris Johnson on the eve of his teleconference today with the three EU presidents. The 137-page report has been drafted by MEPs and […]

Johnson’s next “oven-ready” deal will be another turkey

Anthony Robinson

As the government tries to “distance itself” from the political declaration and “fix the defects” in the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), Johnson’s next oven-ready deal has all the signs of turning out to be another turkey. The reason the WA is not quite right apparently is that they didn’t have enough time last year, according to […]

Trade deals could mean more dangerous pesticides

Anthony Robinson

A new report suggests British consumers post-Brexit could be exposed to larger amounts of more toxic chemicals at the same time as farmers here face a double whammy of low-cost imports produced to a lower standard and the loss of access to the lucrative EU single market. The Pesticides Action Network UK, a charity campaigning […]

Is Boris beginning to get that haunted look?

Anthony Robinson

As calls for an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic grow, is Boris Johnson beginning to acquire that haunted look? At his press conference on Wednesday he looked particularly uncomfortable being asked about Britain’s appalling mortality rate compared with other countries and only offered the weak line that it was too early […]

Senior Tory launches broadside at Johnson and Cummings

Anthony Robinson

How many people have heard of Tim Montgomerie? Not that many I suspect but he is known as one of the most influential Tories outside the cabinet. He founded the website Conservative Home and co-founded, along with Ian Duncan Smith, the Centre for Social Justice. The dry-as-a-bone Tory Brexiter has launched a devastating broadside at Boris […]

Barnier: the EU wants a deal “but not at any cost”

Anthony Robinson

The EU is about to become our biggest competitor, make no mistake. Michel Barnier gave a speech to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) plenary session yesterday, reported in typically hysterical and erroneous fashion by the Daily Express as Michel Barnier CAVES: EU now ready to offer ‘compromise’ after UK threats of no deal. […]

Freight boss tells Gove: “don’t patronise us”

Anthony Robinson

The simmering row between road hauliers and the government burst into the open yesterday when the chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation told Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, “don’t patronise us.” Shane Brennan had just become aware of Gove’s comments in front of the future relationship select committee on 27 May. He tweeted his […]

Dover-Calais and the chaos to come

Anthony Robinson

Peter Foster, public policy editor at the Financial Times has been to Dover to find out how prepared they are for leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of the year. His article is “Dover-Calais post-Brexit trade plagued by uncertainty.” The government apparently promised to publish a plan in March, entitled […]

The government is flying blind on trade

Anthony Robinson

On the Irish border issue the government failed to reconcile three irreconcilable positions, one of which was always mutually exclusive to the other two. Leaving the customs union without establishing a hard land border, or a sea border, was always trying to square an impossible circle, as they finally had to admit. This is why […]

Barnier raises concern at UK backtracking

Anthony Robinson

The fourth round of future relationship negotiations, which took place by a series of video calls, ended yesterday lunchtime. At his press conference Michel Barnier made his now familiar announcement that once again there was “no substantial progress.”

CBI: British firms “not remotely prepared” for no-deal “hammer blow”

Anthony Robinson

Carloyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned the government that many firms in Britain are not “remotely prepared” for a “chaotic change” in EU trading relations in seven months’ time. Writing in Politico, she says many firms are fighting to keep their heads above water through the present crisis […]

The government is gambling with Nissan and Sunderland

Anthony Robinson

This morning’s BBC report carrying a warning from Nissan’s chief executive, Ashwani Gupta, about the plant being viable only if we secure a tariff-free trade deal with the EU reveals what a huge risk the government is taking by threatening to leave on WTO terms. The EU’s ten per cent tariff would spell the end […]

Cummings is far from the genius that he thinks he is

Anthony Robinson

Dominic Cummings has acquired a reputation as something of an intellectual super-being, his oversized forehead seeming to be growing through his thinning hair and giving him the appearance of possessing a brain so huge it’s trying to burst out of its bony shell. Unfortunately, looks can be very deceptive.  The great ‘forecaster’ was recently caught […]

Lords committee lambasts government mishandling of the NI protocol

Anthony Robinson

The House of Lords European Union committee yesterday released a blistering report into the government’s shambolic management of the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Withdrawal Agreement agreed last October by Boris Johnson. In the introduction peers condemn the handling of the implementation process with this claim: “On the Government’s part, there was a series […]

Hancock hauled over the coals by UK Statistics Authority

Anthony Robinson

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been rapped over the knuckles by Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority for providing figures on coronavirus testing that “are still far from complete and comprehensible.” In a letter dated 2 June, Sir David said the purpose of providing statistic was firstly to help understand the pandemic […]

Brexit will take us from coronavirus to omnicrisis

Anthony Robinson

Coronavirus is first and foremost a health crisis but it will soon become an economic one – with the cost of Brexit about to be added. The Social Market Foundation (SMF), an independent think tank, yesterday launched a report that lays out the devastating impact of wilfully boosting a natural crisis with a man-made one. […]

Ex Tory MEP breaks ranks to demand an extension to the transition period

Anthony Robinson

A former Tory MEP has called on Boris Johnson to extend the transition period, warning that leaving the EU without a trade deal together with the impact of coronavirus would be “catastrophic” for the economy. Struan Stevenson, writing in the Scottish daily The Herald said it “makes sense” to have longer for the transition talks because […]

Is Boris Johnson Dominic Cummings’ Willy?

Anthony Robinson

Margaret Thatcher had William Whitelaw, a Tory of the old school to help keep the party together when things got tough; she famously said “every prime minister needs a Willy”.  Up to now, in a strange reversal of roles, it seemed Johnson was Cummings’ Willy. The two most powerful men in Britain certainly make an […]

Johnson’s ignorance will cast a long shadow over Ireland

Anthony Robinson

The British government grudgingly published a command paper on the Northern Ireland protocol last week, in response to pressure from the EU to set out the detailed steps the UK is taking to implement the withdrawal agreement signed in January. The paper reveals just how much is still unresolved, with both sides relying on the […]

The Daily Express: fishing in a parallel universe

Anthony Robinson

The Daily Express has for a long time had the reputation as the newspaper for a parallel universe. For several days they have been suggesting that the EU is about to offer huge concessions on fishing rights in order to help reach an agreement on trade with the UK. The headlines have been increasingly jingoistic. The […]

Dominic Cummings: mastermind or fool?

Anthony Robinson

The only way to make sense of yesterday’s press conference by Dominic Cummings in the Downing Street rose garden is to assume it was a tissue of lies from start to finish. To do otherwise, you would have to think the arrogant ‘mastermind’ Cummings is nothing more than an irrational idiot. The self-proclaimed intellectual giant, […]

Johnson’s SPAD digs him a hole

Anthony Robinson

The incredible revelations about Cummings and his 500-mile circular lockdown tours of County Durham filled the newspapers and the twittersphere all weekend.  The story is symptomatic of Cummings’ arrogance – as well as his coronavirus. He had breached the lockdown rules we learned, not once but twice. More than that, during one apparent breach he […]

Kuenssberg’s impartiality under fire

Anthony Robinson

The revelations yesterday about Dominic Cummings’ apparent breach of the lockdown rules, travelling 250 miles to his parents’ home in County Durham while experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus, has sparked a flurry of activity on Twitter about the impartiality of the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg. She has long been seen by some as too […]

Barnier sinks Johnson’s negotiating strategy

Anthony Robinson

Michel Barnier issued a sharp response to the letter sent by UK chief negotiator David Frost on Tuesday with a missive of his own on Wednesday. It is as if the negotiations have burst out into the public realm with Britain abandoning face-to-face talks to try and convince us that the EU is just being […]

UK chief negotiator bleats EU not offering us a ‘fair’ trade deal

Anthony Robinson

The British government is discovering what it is to be a third country. Having published its near 300-page draft legal text yesterday, after the third round of talks ended last week with “very little progress”, our chief negotiator has now written to Michel Barnier complaining the EU is not offering us what we want. David […]

Express and Telegraph spread fake news about no deal job losses

Anthony Robinson

Fake news isn’t only a social media problem. Politicians and the national press are equally good at it (or bad, depending on your point of view) but they’re far more dangerous because they seem more plausible. Yesterday, the Express ran an article that appeared to show a study by a highly respected German institute indicating […]

The Telegraph confirms Yorkshire Bylines story

Anthony Robinson

Ten days after Yorkshire Bylines published a story concerning the flawed computer code used by professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College to model behavioural strategies for Covid-19, the Telegraph have written their own report: Modelling behind lockdown was an unreliable buggy mess, claim experts – essentially confirming the details. The Telegraph provides more expert evidence […]

Revealed, the Yorkshire MPs happy to see your food quality reduced

Anthony Robinson

Last Wednesday an amendment to the Agriculture Bill came before MPs. It would have prevented the government agreeing any free trade deal that allowed the import of lower-quality agricultural and food products into this country. Amazingly, the amendment was defeated by 328 to 277. Some 19 MPs from the Yorkshire and the Humber region, all […]

UK-EU talks: UK’s real negotiating position revealed

Anthony Robinson

The third round of talks on the future relationship closed yesterday with very little progress on the substantive issues but with the first real glimpse of the UK’s true negotiating stance.  Our chief negotiator David Frost told reporters afterwards: “The major obstacle to this is the EU’s insistence on including a set of novel and […]

Trade: the strange paradoxes of Britain’s new trade policy

Anthony Robinson

For many Brexiters striking, preferential deals under our own trade policy was the whole raison d’être for leaving the EU. Yet paradoxically they seem perfectly happy to trade from next January with what is easily our largest and closest market without any deal at all. It makes no sense does it? Free trade deals are […]

Nadine Dorries in ‘doctored video’ storm

Anthony Robinson

Twitter had gone into meltdown this morning after a doctored video of Keir Starmer was retweeted by several leading politicians including Nadine Dorries, MP and Junior Minister at the Department of Health. Her retweet has since been deleted. Unfortunately for her, it was captured and tweeted by plenty of others, including Paul Waugh, political editor […]

Looking over the edge: Brexit just got serious.

Anthony Robinson

EU Legal guru warns UK it’s later than you think In a move calculated to focus minds on both sides of the Channel, a former Director General of the EU’s legal services department has delivered a stark warning, one that will echo particularly strongly in Whitehall. Unless an extension to the transition period is agreed […]

Treasury warns of “sovereign debt crisis” caused by Covid-19

Anthony Robinson

The Telegraph has got hold of a leaked Treasury document warning of a “sovereign debt crisis” unless the economy soon begins to recover from the seven-week coronavirus lock down. On 1 April, a week after the lockdown was announced, Yorkshire Bylines ran an article: Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up which now […]

Daniel Hannan: Britain’s misleader-in-chief?

Anthony Robinson

Daniel Hannan is not a man you would necessarily trust to give you the truth about anything. He is on record in 2016 saying that, “absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market”; since when, he himself never stops telling us that’s precisely what we should do. The former MEP and […]

Computer model used to develop government Covid-19 strategy allegedly “unusable for scientific purposes”

Anthony Robinson

Explosive allegations have been made by a programming ‘expert’ that the underlying code of the program used by Imperial College in London to model population behaviour in response to different Covid-19 measures, was itself deeply flawed and regularly produced different outputs when given the same inputs. The work at Imperial, done under professor Neil Ferguson […]

Border realities dawn over the Irish Sea as storm clouds gather

Anthony Robinson

There is a growing and increasingly tense row developing between the UK and EU over arrangements for implementing the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement, threatening plans for entry points into the province becoming a de facto EU border.  Britain appears to be dragging its feet and going out of its way to be […]

Coronavirus: is it becoming the Brexit argument continued by other means?

Anthony Robinson

Brexit continues to be the unseen thread that runs through everything happening in this country, even coronavirus. The pandemic has somehow become a proxy for Brexit and for some people it is the continuation of the European campaign by other means. Brexiteers are clearly worried about the impact Covid-19 might have on the government and […]

Russian report and the Yorkshire MP who received the biggest donation from former arms dealer Alexander Temerko

Anthony Robinson

Alexander Temerko (pictured, above) has been very generous to the Conservative party, donating a not inconsiderable £1.2 million over seven years, after taking British citizenship. In July 2019, a few days before Boris Johnson was elected Tory leader, Reuters carried a special report about his connections to Temerko and the influence Temerko wielded in the […]

Britain’s productivity gap: will robots hold us back post Brexit?

Anthony Robinson

In terms of installations of industrial robots, Britain’s record is woeful compared to every other industrialised economy. In 2012, a group of Tory MPs including Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng co-authored a book: Britannia Unchained, in which British workers were described as “among the worst idlers in the world”. Three of […]

UK COVID-19 Strategy: Did the experts get it wrong?

Anthony Robinson

In the middle of this terrible coronavirus pandemic, spare a thought if you can for embattled Health Secretary Matt Hancock, coming in for criticism because of our limited testing facilities. He and Dominic Cummings are blamed, but on this issue, if not on many others, they are almost certainly innocent. Hancock was only carrying out […]

Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up

Anthony Robinson

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently warned that the economic shock from the present coronavirus pandemic was already bigger than the financial crash of 2008–09. It means we are almost certain to be looking at another ten years of austerity at least, but this time on steroids. Angel Gurría, OECD secretary general, […]

Think tanks: a malign influence on the media

Anthony Robinson

Before the referendum, figures about the cost or benefit of EU membership were dropped like cluster bombs by both sides until everybody was completely shell shocked and confused. The one that resonated and stuck was the £350 million a week painted on the side of the red bus. It was perhaps the most famous but […]

Brexit’s great repeal mystery

Anthony Robinson

Brexit was billed as taking back control of our laws but the government has still not published a list of EU laws they want to repeal After the transition period Boris Johnson will be free to tinker as much as he likes with a whole new section of the British constitution, called retained EU law. […]