UK government's duty-free stunt only makes no-deal better for Irish people, not Britons 9 months ago

UK government's duty-free stunt only makes no-deal better for Irish people, not Britons

The people of the UK cannot be tricked into talking about cheap beer, or cheap cigarettes. Instead, they should be focused on their government's cheap stunt.

We all thrill with excitement at the sound of the words "duty-free."

After all, what else could possibly soften the blow of returning from a sun holiday better than the heady intoxication of cheap spirits, the promise of enough cigarettes to keep you going at least a week, and some packs for your friends, too?

Not that we at JOE endorse that sort of hedonism, mind. We just understand how you degenerates think.

And so too does the Conservative party, it would seem.

Yesterday, the Tories — through their Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid  — sought to reclaim some ground surrendered across the six straight parliamentary defeats they've suffered since the return of Parliament.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Javid gleefully announced, Britons would see a return to the halcyon days of cheap duty-free cigs and booze. More litre bottles of Smirnoff, Jack Daniels and Captain Morgans than the arms could possibly carry. Your coup runneth over, and no, that's not a typo.

What Javid didn't tell his constituents, though, is that his announcement will actually be much better for Irish people than it will be for Britons.

Not only that, but he also avoided the tiny detail that duty-free booze from the United Kingdom will be great for Ireland precisely because we are part of the European Union.

If no-deal is to happen, our currency will be stronger relative to the pound, meaning we'll make double our savings on whatever we buy at Heathrow or Gatwick. Besides, whatever taxes and duties are removed now, three years after the fact, the people of the UK have already lost money.

On the day of the Brexit referendum, three years ago, one pound sterling was worth €1.30. Today, one pound sterling is worth €1.12. By that token alone, Britons are 14% poorer against the euro than they were before the decision to leave the EU. That rate will almost certainly take a further tumble if the UK is to leave without a deal.

Thus, the small gains made by removing various duties on airport products is offset by the actual purchasing power of British money.

Not only that, but going on holiday will be more expensive for Britons in the first place. And not just more expensive, more tiresome. After all, they're about to lose their freedom of movement within the EU. Less time to spend in the duty-free when you've got to stand at immigration, and the non-EU line at passport control.

Javid's promise of duty-free shopping is unlikely to be the last gambit by the Tory party at making no-deal look good. Indeed, it says a lot about just how bad no-deal will be that it's taken them so long to put forward even this measly compensation.

Even the above ad is now under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority, as it appears to promote the sale of cigarettes — which is against the law in the United Kingdom.

"We're receiving a number of complaints about a HM Treasury ad which states duty-free shopping with the EU is coming back, if we leave without a deal. We are assessing them carefully against our rules," they wrote on Twitter today.

The real story of this week is the British government's refusal to publish the details of Operation Yellowhammer. Before the prorogation of parliament, Boris Johnson lost his sixth vote as Prime Minister, as the House of Commons voted for the government's preparatory papers for no-deal to be made public.

Defending the decision to keep the plans private, Andrea Leadsom said: "I actually do not think that it serves people well to see what is absolutely the worst thing that could happen.

‘The worst thing that could happen to me is I could walk out of here and get run over. It is not a prediction, but it is something that could happen."

A comforting thought.


In similar news, Tim Martin, owner of Wetherspoons and avid Brexiteer, this week reduced pints in his pubs by 20p to "show the benefits of Brexit." Martin was immediately chastised by the Society of Independent Brewers, who wrote: "Regardless of their individual views on Brexit, many in the brewing community feel that selling a pint of beer for as low as £1.39 and creating the impression beer will remain that cheap is dangerous.

"Beer sold this cheaply has to be made cheaply." A rather poignant sentiment. What does it tell us about cheap stunts?

Perhaps it tells us that the UK's own duty-free ploy is no better a Wetherspoon's promotion.

The £350 million for the NHS was a lie from the very beginning. There is no great promise of increased government investment in any sector. Brexiters are at a loss to actually explain any of the EU regulations that have so terribly constrained business-owners in their country. Plans for no-deal are being kept a secret against the will of parliament. Factories have shut down or left the country. British democracy in crisis. No-deal is just around the corner, and the House of Commons is empty.

The one thing you can say about cheap drink is this: they'll need it.