We're well aware that opinions upon Brexit differ - at least one of us is willing to own up to unreasonable prejudice on the subject. However, we can't help but feel that where we do have actual facts at hand we should be able to base the debate upon such facts. This is not, to put it mildly, what is happening here:
More than 130,000 UK firms will be forced to pay VAT upfront for the first time on all goods imported from the European Union after Brexit, under controversial legislation to be considered by MPs on Monday.
The VAT changes spelled out in the taxation (cross-border trade) bill – one of a string of Brexit laws passing through parliament – are causing uproar among UK business groups, which say that they will create acute cashflow problems and huge additional bureaucracy.
Well, no. There will indeed be a change in how VAT is handled. Imports from the EU will be treated just as imports from outside the EU currently are. Along with the deferral scheme available to all. There may be some cash flow effects but it simply is not true that all must pay the import VAT upfront. Importation creates a liability, not an actual payment that is.
You know, just not true?
But much more than this:
Labour and Tory MPs and peers said that the only way to avoid the VAT Brexit penalty would be to stay in the customs union or negotiate to remain in the EU-VAT area.
That's simply argle bargle.
Without a VAT deal with Brussels, importers will have to pay the VAT upfront in cash and then recover the money later, creating a huge outflow of funds before they can be recouped.
As is that.
Currently some 54% of UK imports come from the EU. The other 46% are subject to the same VAT laws that the 54% will become subject to. This doesn't seem to be a huge problem really, that 46% does keep on coming in, doesn't it? Also, as above, there is a deferral scheme.
But much more importantly, we do not need a deal with Brussels, nor must we stay in the Single Market, the Customs Union nor even the EU VAT area to deal with this, even if it is a larger problem.
Because, you know, we're leaving. We thus get to decide how we're going to handle VAT on imports. This is rather the point, we're not subject to rules set elsewhere. We could, for example, extend the deferral scheme to 90 days, 180, if we wished. Why not, our country, our law?
Please do note that this isn't about whether Brexit itself is a good idea or not - we agree that opinions differ, even that at least one of us is deeply prejudiced upon the subject. But it is still true that facts are facts. We don't face some disastrous problem over import VAT upon exit, simply because exit means that we get to decide our own rules upon import VAT. Even if it is an actual problem rather than the non- one it appears.