Post Referendum Debrief July 30th

Hinkley delayed over security fears?

I wrote yesterday about the astonishment and concern in the energy industry — and in Paris and Beijing — over the government’s surprise decision to delay signing the Hinkley nuclear deal. The deal includes not only Hinkley, but also a commitment to allow the Chinese to build further nuclear plants in the UK. Several papers report that the real reason for the delay is concern over security matters, and the risk that the Chinese might include a cryptic key in the software enabling them to turn off British nuclear plants remotely. Sounds like science fiction — but it could be an issue. It could also create an international incident.

According to the FT, Chinese officials are “surprised” by the decision, which may put UK/China trade ties in jeopardy.

EDF boss Vincent de Rivaz has written an open letter to staff expressing confidence that the project will go ahead, and (rather generously) saying that he understands the British government’s position. Others may be less forgiving.

China trade war over steel imports? If the Chinese are being restrained over the Hinkley issue, they’re making their feelings clear over European steel imports. The Commission has belatedly applied higher anti-dumping tariffs to Chinese steel, and the Chinese don’t like it. They say it runs counter to G20 rhetoric on free trade. But free trade doesn’t include the right for China to corner the world market in steel at artificially low prices.

People Smugglers are making over £100k per crossing

Following the jailing of two British people smugglers, the Telegraph reports that British people smugglers are making over £100,000 per crossing bringing illegal immigrants across the Channel. We need to control our borders — but we need to have the aircraft and patrol boats to make the Channel and the North Sea impassible for smugglers.

The Scots would prefer the UK

The “i” reports new research indicating that by a small margin the Scots don’t want a new referendum on independence, and would rather stay in a post-Brexit UK than be “independent within the EU”. Maybe they’ve realised that “independence within the EU” is an oxymoron. The economic case for the Scots to remain in the UK is clear-cut.

The end of “benefits”: The National, a Scottish paper, reports that Scotland’s new benefits system may drop the word “benefits”, as demeaning. We’ve reached a sorry pass when “benefit” can be regarded as negative and pejorative.

Scottish SNP MP accused of hypocrisy: Paul Monoghan, MP for Caithness, has been accused of hypocrisy after he complained of the British Supreme Court Decision against Scotland’s “state guardian” plan for children. Why? Because he’s also a pro-remainer — and therefore should be happy that “foreign” courts can overrule Scottish government decisions.

European banks fail stress tests

The European Banking Authority has conducted stress tests on 51 major banks in the EU, and many produce very poor results – in Italy and Ireland, but also in Germany, where Deutsche Bank profits have collapsed. The Bank of England has moved quickly to reassure the financial sector that UK banks have the resources and resilience to deal with foreseeable challenges– although RBS reportedly performed poorly, taking the bottom position amongst UK banks and well down the list amongst European banks.

Barclays backs Britain post-Brexit: Meantime Barclay’s Chief Executive Jes Staley has vowed to support Britain’s post-Brexit economy, saying that mortgage lending has been strong since the Brexit vote.

Bank of England mulls action to counter “Brexit hit”: Reuters reports that the Bank of England is reviewing plans to cope with a “Brexit hit” to the economy. But there is mixed news on the economy — and some of it very positive indeed. Foreign investment, talk of trade deals, a tourism boost. Meantime the more realistic valuation of the Pound is boosting exports. Maybe the Bank of England should take time to look at the reality on the ground before it responds to prejudice and Project Fear.

UK tourism surges after Brexit decision

The Evening Standard reports that London is enjoying a tourism surge following the Brexit vote, triggered partly by the lower value of the Pound. One estimate puts tourist numbers up by 18% compared to last year, with hotels and airlines all reporting a spike in business. Along with new foreign investments and countries eager to talk bilateral trade deals with Britain, this augurs well for the post-Brexit economy.

But Europe suffers: The New York Times reports that tourism is depressed in continental Europe following a spate of terrorist attacks — and says this could have a significant economic impact. But we should avoid hubris or schadenfreude. The UK will undoubtedly be targeted sooner or later by ISIS, and that could affect our tourist arrivals as well.

Bad news from Ford

The Indy, trawling as always for anti-Brexit stories, reports that Ford will consider closing its engine plants at Dagenham and Bridgend, where (as the Indy spitefully adds) people voted in favour of Brexit. It quotes the SMMT saying (rightly) that UK auto makers value access to the Single Market. But after Brexit they will have access to the Single Market. A few years ago Ford moved its van operations out of the UK to Turkey — which is out of the Single Market. Obviously being in a country in the EU didn’t matter too much to them then.

Unaccompanied child migrants abused

The Telegraph carries a report from Save the Children noting a surge in unaccompanied child migrants, may of whom are being forced into prostitution or child labour. Maybe Europe is not such a safe place as it appears to be from war-torn Syria. And from a broader immigration perspective, it seems likely that children are sent first, with the rest of the family following later, and claiming a right to family reunion and family life.

ISIS trains child terrorists: The Indy reports that ISIS is training hundreds of children — believed to be the children of ISIS fighters — as the “new generation” of terrorists. There are claimed to be up to fifty British children amongst them.

Return of the British passport?

Michael Fabricant MP has asked in parliament whether the Home Office has any plans to reintroduce the former blue British passport. Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill (an MEP 1999/2004) replied that “there are no immediate plans”. Let’s hope that plans are brought forward. The restoration of the British passport will be a cause for celebration, and perhaps street parties.

Quote of the week from the Indy’s Patrick Cockburn:

“Five years ago I thought that Syria could become like Turkey. Now Turkey is becoming like Syria”.

Exports take off outside the EU

The Telegraph leads its business section with the headline “Exports take off as firms look beyond the EU”.   Overall export growth has exceeded the global rate of expansion for the first time in ten years, with non-EU exports exceeding EU exports by a significant margin — despite poor overall global economic prospects.  The data come from 2015, before the Brexit vote, and are partly the result of poor economic performance in the eurozone.  But it seems likely that the EU debate was prompting British firms to look further afield and to re-engage with world markets, even before the Referendum. Once again, Brexit is something to celebrate.


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14 Responses to Post Referendum Debrief July 30th

  1. Frances Fox says:

    Roger. I am horrified about this Nuclear project because France does not like us going out of the EU and then China also having their part in it is to me SHEER STUPIDITY because they could be in charge of its use without British people knowing but having to pay billions in Tax. It is about time that Public Money spent on projects in this Country should be in charge of Britain.

    I wonder too how our Public Services will come back under Brexit who are dragging the leave coming out when we are paying Foreign Countries to take us over.

    It reallyis frightening in my opinion.


    Frances Fox


  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “Cryptic key in the software enabling them to turn off British nuclear plants remotely. Sounds like science fiction — but it could be an issue”.

    Seen that on installed Telephone Switches…those IPR issues and so on. Did the Customer like the idea of any intervention/monitoring from Munich…er ummm. NO! So give us the full access passwords etc.

    I hope this review of a major safety critical system is indeed a critical review. Preferably performed by an independent allied organisation(s).

    • Dung says:

      Well our own government is trying to persuade us to have ‘smart’ meters installed so that they can switch our supply off individually if they so choose, not really science fiction then.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        oh, I’d completely forgotten about that money spinner. Wonder if its on the review list…or will be?

  3. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says:

    I cannot wait until we get our fine, distinctive blue passport back again. I loathe the current passport. It is a nasty colour and looks like a building society savings book. Furthermore, the fine statement inside the front cover is meaningless as the outside says we are citizens of the EU, so presumably the bit about Her Britannic Majesty’s government should really read the EU Commissino and Mr Juncker.

    As soon as the EU bit is removed from the cover, I will get a new passport the same way as I renewed my old blue one as late as possible once the hideous savings book version was announced. How I miss carrying a real passport.

    With regard to the Chinese, the French and our nuclear power stations, this whole privatisation thing has gone too far. We must retain absolute control of things like power generation and while I am not a huge fan of nationalisation, it has its place and electricity is one of them, at least on the generation side. Anybody could quite easily build in a back door into the computer systems and shut us down. Who needs a gunboat when you can turn a country off at the flick of a switch? This makes both nuclear and conventional arms obsolete.

    • catweazle666 says:

      “Anybody could quite easily build in a back door into the computer systems and shut us down.”

      I think you will find that all programmers almost instinctively build back doors into the software they produce as a matter of course.

      In any case, the fact that a Chinese or any other foreign company isn’t writing the software doesn’t prevent some programmer being bribed or otherwise persuaded to insert a back door. If it is done skilfully, it will be very difficult to detect.

  4. Shieldsman says:

    The real reason why Hinkley Point should be abandoned you have stated many times. Out of date nuclear design creating problems with the two plants being currently built, and no evidence that Hinkley Point can be built on time and at a known price. Providing EDF with a 35-year guarantee of £92.50 per per MWh will push up everyone’s electricity bill.
    UK nuclear power generation is £27.5 more expensive per MWh than that generated by gas power plants.
    For once Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian has got it right – ‘Hinkley Point is bad business. Theresa May should put it out of its misery’.
    So has the Guardian realised that renewables at any price is bad for the Public and the economy, CO2 emissions are not changing the climate as forecast by the ‘green blob’.

    Building Hinkley Point will not resolve the problem of replacing our other aging Nuclear Power Stations.

    • The “Green blob” tend to discount the varied international response to their”Wolf, Wolf” cries, or, more likely, conveniently do not mention it.
      Our post Brexit Gov. should drop almost all regulations for the UK”s “virtue signalling” and repeal urgently the disastrous, futile climate Change Acts (2008,9).

    • catweazle666 says:


      Get fracking and get building CCGT.

      What could be quicker, simpler and more efficient than that?

    • Dung says:

      I third the motion ^.^

  5. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin says:

    In the meantime, before the lights start going out, could we not fire up some of the plants that the EU has told us to close as a temporary measure? Given that we have a wafer thin surplus and it would take very little to tip us into energy deficit, surely this should be done now while we look at better long term solutions.

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