The Tories, rather naively asked many countries for their opinion regarding the UK pulling out of the EU. Inevitably many countries declined to comment or issued polite non-committal press releases. This is hardly surprising, its generally against diplomatic protocol for countries to interfere in the internal works of other nations. Its sort of like someone handing you his baby and asking you if you think he looks ugly. Are you going to tell him to his face what you really think?
However, the two countries who did decide to offer an opinion were pretty clear that they thought it sounded like a crazy idea. America has seldom been quiet in making clear its worries of the geopolitical and economic implications of the UK leaving the EU. However over the weekend, Japan gave us their two cents and they expressed deep concern, warning of the potential for tens of thousands of job losses.
Japans response is something of a break with diplomatic protocol, however the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was in the middle of an election and he is known for his slightly unorthodoxy style. Indeed if anything I would argue that the Japanese vastly over simplified the problem and were very much sugar coating things…then again they knew that they were essentially addressing the Daily Mail brigade (many of whom still probably think were still at war with Japan ;D )
Part of what worries Japan is how the UK leaving the EU will interfere with the supply chains of its companies operating within the UK. Naturally throwing up a couple of extra trade barriers is hardly going to help things in this present economic climate, particularly if they have to start paying tariffs. And its worth remembering that its not just the final product were talking about. The supply chain for any industrial product these days, be it mobile phones, those Japanese label Super Dry clothes or Japanese branded cars, is fairly long and convoluted. As I mentioned in a prior post, many of the cars rolling off UK production lines for example will be built in LHD mode, as the bulk of them will ultimately be destined for export to Europe or beyond. Many of the parts will come in from Europe, America, Asia, etc. The last think Nissan wants is to face having to pay import/export duty on the parts and then pay it again when the export the finished car.
Now the UKIP types will claim, oh well just negotiate a free trade deal with the EU. Again, as Ive highlighted before, and the BBC has previously pointed out there is no guarantee the rest of the EU will go along with that. And even if they did they would as a minimum require the UK to take on board all of the various EU laws regarding trade, environment, H&S, etc, as well as all changes and laws passed in the future. The UK might even still have to continue to pay some of the EU budget (someone has to administer all those laws, those eurocrats in Brussels need to be paid by someone to do it). So in short the only difference between the current status quo and what UKIP proposes is that the UK looses its veto and right to vote on such laws. In short second class status for the UK!
Furthermore, its not just the EU the UK will need to negotiate a free trade deal with. The EU has spend the best part of several decades hammering out trade deals with other countries, notably its biggest trading partners, China, the US and of course Japan. The fear for the Japanese is that a UK EU exit would put the UK straight back to a blank sheet, particularly if such an exit occurs according to the ridiculously short timetable that UKIP or Tory Euro sceptics propose. This would have a devastating impact on the trade of any company, which would almost certainly result in job losses as inevitably companies seek to resolve these issues by moving factories overseas. And of course if the SNP have their way overseas could be as easy to achieve as simply relocating a couple of kms up the M6.
The smut king
Indeed I thought it was curious that within hours of this announcement, David Cameron began going on and on about internet porn. Obviously this was his spin team leaping into action, well aware that its the sort of story the tabloids would latch onto like a dog onto a bone and push Japans statement off the front pages. Of course Katey going into labour probably helped too, I wont be surprised if Osborne was sent around to her house to read to her some dry economic theories in the hope of inducing labour!
But jokes aside, what the Tories have succeeded in doing, yet again, is demonstrating a level of naivety that you will struggle to find outside of porno films! If there’s any porn we should be blocking its the hard core right-wing porn coming out of Downing Street these days.