Observations of an Expat: F-u-c-k Business

June 29, 2018 Business , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS , UK



Tom Arms



“F-U-C-K Business”. That was the response of Conservative British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson when told that one of Britain’s biggest employers—Airbus—was planning to move out of the UK if his country left the EU Customs Union. The expletive was actually uttered privately, but the mercurial Boris has refused to deny it and in politics absence of denial is the same as claiming ownership.


The shocking thing is not the foreign secretary’s choice of words. His audience is used to the colourful language of this self-confessed admirer of Donald Trump. It is the sentiment behind it and the axis shifting policy change it represents.


The British Conservative Party has always been the party of business and financial probity. The Labour Party has been the big-spending, squeeze them til the pips squeak, conscience of the nation. It is the traditional home of the social ideologues who are more concerned with correcting perceived social injustices than they are worried about securing the source of the money which pays for their corrections.


But Boris Johnson’s expletive indicates that the Tories are as ideologically driven as Labour has ever been. It is being steered by a coterie of European-hating politicians who are prepared to sacrifice Britain’s finances at the high altar of Brexit. The ideologues have staged a coup in the British conservative party.


Prime Minister Theresa May has tried to clawback some rationality. “We have always been the party of business and we will always be the party of business,” she exclaimed. But Mrs May has refused to disown her foreign secretary and she has certainly made no move to make the only decision that will truly mollify the British business community—sacking Boris Johnson.


The reason is that Boris leads his party’s Brexiteers and the Brexiteers are the tail wagging the conservative dog. Brexit hardliners are still very much a minority within the conservative parliamentary party, but they have behind them a referendum win—albeit a narrow one based on a suspect campaign. Mrs May needs Boris Johnson in government simply because he is more dangerous out of it.


But the Brexiteers’ price for staying in government is high: British departure from the EU single market and customs union. This will significantly increase costs for any British-based company which conducts trade across the English Channel.


Airbus is one such company. The entire British car manufacturing industry is another. Airbus in the UK is responsible for producing the wings of Europe’s Airbus planes. These are often referred to as the “crown jewels” of the aerospace industry. The 14,000 people employed across 25 British sites are highly-skilled and highly-paid designers and engineers. It is estimated that the company generates a further 100,000 jobs in ancillary industries. It contributes $10 billion a year to the British economy and pays $1.5 billion in taxes.


And then there is the income tax paid by the workers. These are no lightweights. They earn big bucks. If we conservatively estimate that the average salary is $70,000 that means about another $2.7 billion in revenues for the British exchequer.


Airbus is a drop in the financial ocean compared to the car industry. According to the British Society of Motor Manufacturers, the UK car industry employs an estimated 757,000 people in designing, engineering, manufacturing, mending, selling and making components for cars. It is responsible for 7.2 percent of all British manufacturing. It contributes to the exchequer an estimated $35 billion.


Theresa May recently increased National Health Service spending by 3.4 per cent in real terms until 2025. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson wants to boost defence spending from two percent to three percent to make the British military “fit for purpose.” This has to be paid for either out of increased taxes or borrowings which are no more than delayed taxes. Taxes come from business and employed people. That is how the system has always worked and always will work. Unemployed people and non-existent companies do not pay taxes. Which is why I say: F-U-C-K Boris.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].

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