If only Polly Toynbee actually thought through her stories

Polly Toynbee gives us chapter and verse on how difficult it is going to be for one business to export into the European Union after Brexit. The little bit that Polly’s not grasping being that the point and purpose of trade is access to the imports, not the ability to make the exports. For sending stuff abroad for foreigners to consume is the work that we do. The benefit we gain from that work being the stuff that foreigners send us that we can consume.

Keep that in mind for a moment:

Searching for what forms to fill, HMRC’s list of codes has been impossible for his complex products, where the quantity and original source of each ingredient needs a separate coding. “The paperwork is crazy,” he says. Each form has three pages, one needed for each of his 50 products with certificates of origin relating to ingredients from all over the world. “That’s what the single market did away with in 1994,” he says.

Baker’s post-Brexit transaction costs include paying a carrier £100 a time to fill out the right forms, and a customs clearance agent to check and process duty paper work: qualified agents are in short supply. The company and each of his staff need security vetting to get exports through ports with less checking, requiring him to hire a security vetting consultant too.

The claim is that this is what it takes to export into - or import into of course - the European Union. OK, this is what it takes to export into the European Union then. Meaning what?

Meaning that the 6.5 billion people out there who are not part of the European Union currently have to face this faradiddle of pointless bureaucracy to send us the lovely things that they make and we might wish to consume. That is, every complaint about how difficult exporting to the EU will be after October 31 is a listing of the current costs to us of being in the European Union before October 31.

At which point recall that little point to be kept in mind. The point of trade is the imports, it is our consumption that makes us richer. We may well face greater difficulty in exporting to 450 million people but there’s a decent enough chance that we’ll face less in importing from 6.5 billion. Given the way trade works that’s a net benefit to us.

It’s not too much to ask that Polly Toynbee actually think is it?