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.

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Brexit stage set for showdown, as EU vice president reads Gove the riot act

Anthony Robinson
Vice President Šefčovič

Following hard on the heels of the government’s announcement on Tuesday that it intends to break international law by allowing the UK internal market bill (UKIM) to supersede parts of the withdrawal agreement, EU Vice President Maroš Šefčovič flew to London earlier today. In a meeting with Michael Gove, he read him the diplomatic equivalent […]

Johnson now heading for his own Suez moment

Anthony Robinson
Boris Johnson in Downing Street

In 1956, prime minister Anthony Eden conspired with France and Israel to invade Egypt and recover control of the Suez Canal, which had been seized by president Nasser. It was an act of monumental hubris and Britain was eventually forced to withdraw under pressure from the USA and Russia. It was a seminal moment and […]

Johnson is trashing Britain’s international reputation

Anthony Robinson

The Telegraph claimed in a banner headline this morning that the prime minister is to tell the EU that the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) he renegotiated and signed last year “never made sense”.  A senior government source is quoted as saying some of the consequences “were not foreseen” at the time. Simon Nixon, chief leader writer […]

Johnson’s approval rating among Tory party members nosedives

Anthony Robinson

The regular monthly survey of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home shows Boris Johnson’s satisfaction rating slumping into the bottom third of his own cabinet. The prime minister is not so much first among equals as nineteenth out of twenty-six. In a cabinet stuffed with mediocrities and incompetents he doesn’t even make […]

Logistics bodies starting to put up “distress flares”

Anthony Robinson

Freight industry trade bodies have written a joint letter to cabinet office minister Michael Gove calling for an “urgent roundtable meeting” to express growing concern about the state of nation’s preparedness to deliver a “functional operating border” for traders next year. In a Tweet, the FT’s Peter Foster characterises it as the industry sending up […]

Why is Johnson so uniquely awful at PMQs?

Anthony Robinson

By consensus, even among right-wing commentators, the prime minister was systematically dismantled by Keir Starmer at yesterday’s prime minister’s questions (PMQs). It was his worst performance in a series where he has consistently struggled against the new Labour leader and former barrister. John Crace, in an excoriating piece for The Guardian, says many Conservative MPs […]

A glimpse down the Brexit rabbit hole

Anthony Robinson

As part of the check, change, go campaign to alert citizens and businesses about the huge adjustments coming down the track in just four months’ time, the Cabinet Office proudly tweeted last week about being “committed to growing the customs sector” as part of the preparations. We are committed to growing the customs sector for […]

Boxed in Johnson given two weeks to save EU talks

Anthony Robinson

The future relationship talks are “reaching the end of the road” and a moment of truth is looming for the prime minister. The Times claims Johnson has been told that he has just two weeks to save the future relationship talks, with the EU refusing to “move forward” until Britain sets out its state aid […]

UK business survey: more than 80% unprepared for no-deal Brexit

Anthony Robinson

Just how well placed are UK businesses for Brexit on 1 January 2021? A Brexit readiness survey conducted among supply chain managers and published today has revealed a disturbing picture, with just 18 percent of UK businesses said to be prepared for a no-deal Brexit. The survey, with work carried out in July for Descartes […]

“Doomsday dossier” is Cummings’ last roll of the dice

Anthony Robinson

The Sun’s ‘exclusive’ yesterday on the “Doomsday Dossier” is suspiciously similar to the leaking of Operation Yellowhammer details last August by another Murdoch-owned newspaper, the Sunday Times, but with added coronavirus issues. I assume it was done for the same purpose: as a signal to try and convince the EU that the government is serious […]

Johnson is heading for the elephant trap he has dug himself

Anthony Robinson

Sir Ivan Rogers was our ambassador to the EU (known as UKREP) until Theresa May forced him out in January 2017 for having the temerity to suggest she should have a clear plan ready before triggering Article 50. Since then he has made a series of incisive speeches, all of which have proved remarkably prescient. […]

Is Boris Johnson losing the plot?

Anthony Robinson

On a visit to Northern Ireland yesterday where he met Irish prime minister Micheál Martin, Boris Johnson made the extraordinary claim that there will be no border down the Irish Sea, saying if there is one it will be “over my dead body”.  This is widely reported in the local media (here and here) and […]

BREAKING

Brexit backing billionaire plans to open new car plant – in France

Anthony Robinson

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the chemical company Ineos and Britain’s richest man, plans to open a car plant in France to build the successor to the 4×4 Land Rover Defender which was discontinued in 2016. Ratcliffe, who was a supporter of Brexit, reportedly moved to Monaco in 2019 in order to avoid paying £4bn […]

Labour warns of “jobs bonfire”

Anthony Robinson

Labour’s shadow business and consumer minister has slammed the government for costing small businesses millions of pounds in wasted preparations after they were given just 24 hours’ notice to scrap a planned reopening. Lucy Powell set out yesterday how bowling alleys, casinos and beauty salons across the country had all spent time and money preparing to […]

Brexiters want Johnson’s oven-ready deal sent back to the kitchen

Anthony Robinson

Iain Duncan Smith is the latest Conservative Eurosceptic MP calling for the Withdrawal Agreement, negotiated at the last minute by Boris Johnson and his adviser David Frost, to be scrapped, thus giving a new twist to the old adage about doing something in haste and repenting at leisure. In his case, having voted in favour […]

The government is in danger of being overwhelmed by Brexit

Anthony Robinson

As we enter the final stretch with just five months to go before the transition period ends, and with a second wave of coronavirus already threatening Europe, there are growing signs that serious Brexit problems are beginning to overwhelm the government. The workload is increasing as the time available to complete it is decreasing and […]

Will planning rules derail the Brexit express?

Anthony Robinson

Rachel Reeves, the shadow cabinet secretary, visited the MOJO site close to junction 10A of the M20 at Ashford in Kent recently with the BBC also reporting that construction “began earlier this month” on a “giant lorry park” for Brexit-related customs purposes without local people being consulted. The MP for Leeds West has now written to Michael Gove asking […]

EU banking watchdog tells British banks: Check, Change and Come – to Europe

Anthony Robinson

As the British government launches its advertising campaign to help businesses and individuals prepare for the end of the transition period, with the inevitable three-word slogan “Check – Change – Go”, the European Banking Authority (EBA) had a message of its own to Britain’s financial institutions. In a lengthy and uncompromising statement published yesterday on its […]

The truth: bending it like Boris

Anthony Robinson

Johnson has been rapped over the knuckles by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) for repeatedly quoting erroneous and misleading figures on child poverty. The OSR is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority watchdog, and they were responding to a complaint from the End Child Poverty Coalition (ECPC). The story is all over […]

Government to create “single source of truth” for border data

Anthony Robinson

Just a week after publishing the Border Operating Model describing how Britain’s borders will operate from 1 January next year, we learn it’s really only a stop-gap measure after the government launched a consultation on creating “the world’s most effective border” in the next five years. Not content with erecting conventional barriers to trade with […]

BREAKING

Reuters: “Barnier confident Brexit deal with Britain possible”

Anthony Robinson

Reuters reported within the last half hour that sources in Brussels are claiming Michel Barnier, in a closed-door meeting with national envoys this morning, “expressed confidence” that a deal between the UK and the EU can be agreed. Barnier’s comments are said to be in sharp contrast to the most recent downbeat assessments that he […]

The Irish Sea border: Brexit’s own iceberg

Anthony Robinson

Northern Ireland was barely mentioned during the referendum, but since 2016 it has consistently proved the most insoluble problem. Theresa May’s plan to resolve it by keeping the whole United Kingdom in the customs union eventually proved her undoing. Johnson’s answer, to erect a border down the Irish Sea, could soon be his. Northern Ireland […]

Government’s £400m purchase of bankrupt OneWeb looks doomed to fail

Anthony Robinson

There is growing curiosity and another potential scandal surrounding the government’s £400m purchase of the bankrupt satellite company OneWeb. Dominic Cummings believes that in the UK we need something like the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) where the government pumps money into blue skies projects in the hope of getting a lead in […]

Britain to develop world-beating circumlocution industry

Anthony Robinson

Charles Dickens invented the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit, a fictional government paper-shuffling department which never achieved anything but, “in the spirit of national efficiency” gradually led to it having “something to do with everything”. Dickens talked of people “who in slow lapse of time and agony” became lost inside it. It appears from the […]