We are beginning to get to the point that we suspect a conspiracy here. For we've another of these reports telling us that Brexit is going to visit the Holy Terrors upon us all. Which, of course, it, might, for perhaps polite Europeans will no longer speak to us. But it isn't going to be true that the country's terms of trade are so ruined by tariffs that we'll all start to starve.
Today's entry is from the Food Foundation, which tells us that the imposition of WTO import duties upon ourselves will lead to food prices rising. Thus fewer will have their five a day and at some future date all die of scurvy (it's possible we might have exaggerated).
Five-a-day eating targets for fruit and vegetables could become unaffordable for millions of low-income families as a result of Brexit-related food price rises, a report says.
The Food Foundation says that already-feeble consumption rates of healthy food in the UK could nosedive under Brexit because the triple impact of exchange rates, labour costs and tariffs could add up to £158 a year to the amount a family of four spends on fruit and vegetables.
Their full report is here and their source for the effects of import duties is this from the Resolution Foundation (see where our mutterings about conspiracy come from?) something we've already commented upon:
Clearly reverting to MFN tariffs with the EU is by no means the only possible outcome from a “no-deal” Brexit. If we leave the EU without a free trade agreement some have argued that the UK should unilaterally reduce all tariffs to zero. Our analysis indicates that should the country do this the benefits to consumers would be low. Across those good affected by the tariff cuts prices would fall by just 1 per cent.
The Food people conveniently leave out that effect. We just can't think why either.
Just to make it as clear as we can. Upon Brexit we have a choice, we in Britain get to decide this. We can tax ourselves with import tariffs on the things we buy from foreigners or we can decide not to be bloody fools and thus fail to do something so damn stupid. If we do tax ourselves then prices will, naturally, be higher than if we don't. But there is absolutely nothing in any set of rules, regulations or international agreements that insists we've got to go doolally the moment we're outside the EU. So, please, could varied think tanks all stop stating that we must go mad?
Then there's this from the Foodie report.
These are crops which we only import from countries outside the EU. Their prices are unlikely to change (over and above the effects of the exchange rate) unless we unilaterally reduce tariffs. Several of these crops are grown in low and middle income countries where pressures on prices driven by UK supermarkets can have substantial impacts on the sustainability of production and treatment of workers. If free trade agreements resulted in reductions in price of these products and a growth in the UK market, the knock-on effects on producing countries would need careful consideration.
Seriously? If we remove tariffs then we'll buy more of these things, raising demand for them, and this could be a bad idea because poor people will be able to make more money supplying them to us?
Are these people smoking the banana skins rather than eating what's inside them?