The UK balance of trade

I have worried more about the UK’s continuing balance of trade deficit than its persistent government deficit though both pose problems. Our trade deficit became entrenched during our time in the EU and revolved around a heavy deficit with EU in goods. Now we have left more could be done to replace imports from the EU. Our  trade with the rest of the world has been much better balanced despite big deficits with China and Norway. We are in deficit with far too many EU countries.

In 2022 our deficit in goods was £231 bn. The three largest sources were Germany, Norway and China, accounting for around £40 bn each or a total of £120 bn. We have come far too dependent on importing  energy  from Norway. We import many vehicles, chemicals and machinery from Germany and many goods including our turbines, solar panels and batteries from China.

Getting out more of our own oil and gas is important to cut this deficit. Rosebank yesterday was a good start. Bring on the others I have written and spoken about.



  1. Narrow Shoulders
    September 28, 2023

    The UK government(s) and civil service are far too keen to hamstring our industry and producers with red tape and direction that gives other countries an advantage. From gold plating and sticking to EU rules when we were in (and now refusing to diverge) to draconian, unnecessary net zero directives and false accounting which makes it too expensive to produce here competitively.

    Add in ridiculous housing costs and British workers need to earn too much for producers to be competitive even after importing a million people per year.

    The answers will take time but slavishly following ever more regulation and compliance is not the way forward.

  2. Lifelogic
    September 28, 2023

    Indeed but the current governments idiotic socialist policies (net zero, expensive energy, very high taxes, restrictive planning, vast government waste, v. poor public services, a bloated state, wars on small businesses, landlords, car drivers, daft employments laws… render many industries totally unable to compete and or to export very much. Leads to an even weaker pound and even more of Sunak’s inflation.

  3. Philip P.
    September 28, 2023

    Since GB no longer produces much in the way of goods, shouldn’t we be looking rather to our balance of payments, rather than the balance of trade, as an indicator of how we are doing economically? That allows us to include financial and other services, at which I hope we are more successful.

    1. a-tracy
      September 28, 2023

      We are the eighth largest manufacturer in the world in front of France now?

      1. hefner
        September 28, 2023 ‘Manufacturing by country 2023’
        China 28.3%, USA 16.6, Japan 7.2, Germany 5.8, India 3.3, South Korea 3.0, Italy 2.3, France 1.9, UK 1.8, Mexico 1.5%

        1. Lynn Atkinson
          September 28, 2023

          Germany, Italy and France will be dropping out shortly – no energy. If we pump oil and gas we will be punching above our weight again.

        2. a-tracy
          September 28, 2023

          Perhaps the stats Jefferson gave are more up to date in 2023 Hefner . Read @jefferson_MFG for good news about UK manufacturing 🙂 be positive about our Country. “Manufacturing matters. With annual output of £224billion the UK has leapfrogged France and is now the EIGHTH largest manufacturer in the world.

          The sector employs 2.6 million people. Today was National Manufacturing Day and British manufacturers are opening their doors as part of a UK wide Open house.” @makeuk.

  4. Lifelogic
    September 28, 2023

    So Tory MP Caroline Nokes say GB News “should be taken off air”. This just because Lawence Fox made a rather juvenile comment live on air, what on earth is this dire MP even doing in the Conservative Party? It is called free speech it is OFCOM that need to be closed down as we saw over their “censorship” on vaccine harms and other Covid issues.

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      @Lifelogic – exactly +1 there is no Conservative Party, just Labour Lite

      1. Mike Wilson
        September 28, 2023

        Labour Lite? Strikes me we have Labour Heavy.

    2. Richard II
      September 28, 2023

      I find this a bit strange, LL. Caroline Nokes is an MP whose voting record suggests that GB News would be a sympathetic platform for many of the views she holds.

      On the other hand, a quick Google search suggest she finds it easier to get interviewed by the BBC than our good host does, so perhaps she just feels she only needs one broadcaster.

      None of which excuses Lawrence Fox’s unbelievably stupid behaviour.

    3. Original Richard
      September 28, 2023

      Caroline Nokes,MP described her constituents who watch GB News as “strange people”.

    4. MFD
      September 28, 2023

      I agree with that opinion, Caroline Nokes is wrong and should not be an MP, I will watch what I want, however I believe so-called social media should be shut down! It causes nothing but trouble!

  5. Dave Andrews
    September 28, 2023

    Balance of trade is poor because British goods are made too expensive, by excessive taxes and high rent and mortgage costs raising employment costs.
    High taxes could be reduced if the government got a grip on its waste, and housing costs could be reduced by reducing demand. None of which the government has any intention of tackling.

  6. Ian B
    September 28, 2023

    Sir John

    “I have worried more about the UK’s continuing balance of trade deficit” The reason is simple your Conservative Government will at all times focus on ensuring we import before all other alternatives. Some of which is the NetZero lunacy.

    All the big time taxpayer money give a way’s have been heavily biased towards foreign is best. The Somerset battery assembly factory, is backdoor Chinese imports via India. UK energy supplies predominantly foreign based supported by the UK taxpayer. The taxpayer supported out flow for EV’s is based on import first, HS2 hardware, assembly of imports, so on and so on.

    Unlike our foreign competitors were taxpayer handouts are for, those, based registered and contributing to their local Countries economies, this Conservative Government likes to give UK Taxpayer money to any ‘foreign’ entity that holds their hand out.

    This Conservative Government appears to punish UK enterprise, and makes it difficult for them to compete on a level playing field.

    1. a-tracy
      September 28, 2023

      Yesterday I read that the French government is subsidising the making and purchase of electric cars in France, billions of euros. Asian EVs are excluded from the French subsidy schemes. Macron wants to subsidise electric cars so much that their residents can get a car for €100 per month in the next three years (source Le Monde)

      Are the UK going to be allowed to buy Chinese affordable electric cars or not, or will we be forced to buy French?

      1. hefner
        September 28, 2023
        12/05/2023 ‘France to push European-made EVs with new subsidy requirements’.
        20/09/2023 ‘France: New environmental bonus could push out imported EVs’. 26/09/2023 ‘€100/month leasing scheme for EU-made electric cars’.

      2. John O'Leary
        September 28, 2023

        If we put our foot down firmly now, we won’t have to buy an electric car at all.

        1. Lynn Atkinson
          September 28, 2023


      3. Mark
        September 28, 2023

        Who is paying for the subsidies?

        1. agricola
          September 29, 2023

          Joe citizen pays for all QED.

          1. Lynn Atkinson
            September 29, 2023

            He’s called ‘John Bull’.

  7. Lifelogic
    September 28, 2023

    The Blair-Brown project is still ruining Britain. Sunak’s only hope is to crush it. His moves on net zero, HS2 and migration mark the first repudiation of continuity New Labour.

    Allister Heath today in the Telegraph. For 13 years the Tories have pushed the same socialism.

    Alas Sunak has so far done virtually nothing on Net zero, migration or the insanity of HS2. He is still heading over the cliff. Only 15 months left mate.

    Nothing on his other disasters either. The net harm vaccines, covid lockdowns, test and trace, his dire energy bill the Windsor Accord disaster, the vast over taxation, ULEZ and road blocking that he could stop but does not, the war on small businesses, landlords (thus tenants) and the self employed, the sick joke NHS, the bloated inept state sector…

    So when King Charles went on about Net Zero with Macron did he know of Sunak’s row back but pushed his bonkers green crap politics anyway? Did he say he was not that foolish to interfere in politics yet still does so all the time.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 28, 2023

      Allister Heath adds:- Blair is to blame, but the Tories have extended his framework.

      ‘There is a glimmer of hope again. Rishi Sunak started off poorly but appears to have had a change of heart’
      The Human Rights Act, the rise of lawfare and the quangoisation of decision-making, which has spawned monsters such as the Climate Change Committee, our complex and punitive tax system, our bloated, mismanaged, wasteful state, the broken approach to immigration, the growing dependency on government for jobs, incomes and lifestyles, the top-down environmental dogmatism that threatens to ruin the lives of millions, our over-extended university system: all of these originated under New Labour and were built upon by clueless Conservatives.

      Exactly but I would say “Clueless Con-Socialists” myself but 90%+ of Tory MPs are it seems. Certainly all the ones who voted for the recent mad energy bill or the Windsor Framework or support HS2, the net harm vaccines, the QE, the lockdowns, net zero and the soft “loans” for duff degrees.

  8. Peter Wood
    September 28, 2023

    Good Morning,
    Sir J, you might have filled this out some more to make your point, ie what is our trade balance? £87 Billion DEFICIT. We need a ‘UK First’ mindset in government trade policy, as our trade counterparts have for their own countries. Our trade deficit weakens our currency in international markets, we will import inflation of prices if our currency weakens, which means our interest rate needs to be higher for longer.
    PS, the BoE is the sole issuer of the GBP currency, it can create or eliminate £. If it has this power, any ‘loss’ from the sale of Gilts, as you worry about, is meaningless. The BoE will never run out of money. The problem is, will our trade counterparts and international banks stop buying £ if there is too much of it about. The more £ the BoE eliminates, the greater value there is in the remaining currency in circulation.

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      @Peter Wood the Taxpayer picks up the Cost for all BoE loses

      1. Peter Wood
        September 28, 2023

        Yes, because there is more £ floating around the system but no more/additional assets, money is worth less, ie asset price inflation. The BoE is now trying to correct the error of printing too much £ by QT, taking £ out of the system by selling Gilts and then ‘eliminating’ the £ proceeds from such sales. A loss or profit on sale or purchase of Gilts simply doesn’t matter to the BoE, it created the £ in the first place.

  9. Bloke
    September 28, 2023

    Although many people have reduced disposable incomes, instead of making better decisions too many buy things they do not need or just waste. The UK Government does the same and to an extreme extent.

  10. Lifelogic
    September 28, 2023

    A new report from the “think tank” Civitas puts the U.K. cost of Net Zero at £4.5 trillion which looks about right to me (if it is even possible). So £160,000 per household this should do wonders for our ability to compete and export. We are governed by complete and utters economic and scientifically illiterate idiots.

    1. Original Richard
      September 28, 2023

      The CAGW and the consequent Net Zero Strategy scam may be running out of steam with no bids at all for offshore wind at the last renewable auction round (AR5).

      The CfD price wanted by the offshore wind industry was obviously too high for the Government to swallow.

      Vattenfall wanted an additional 40% to continue with their AR4 project.

      The Government should come clean and tell us the price demanded by the wind industry so we all know how much offshore wind energy is going to cost.

      It clearly isn’t 9 times cheaper than gas as we are still being told. If it is then CfDs and subsidies should no longer be necessary.

  11. Ian B
    September 28, 2023

    You could sum things up that this Conservative Government has no interest in the UK economy, its a tax and spend Government

    The high taxes introduced by our 2 Chancellors(Sunak/Hunt), have pushed up costs, caused inflation to rise, taken money out of the economy and made everyone poorer. Between them they have also pushed to pound lower, a lot lower, which also adds to the massive cost bill as they are running an import only policy.

    We still have the Boris Johnson Government, all socialism and left wing doctrine. It is still his collective responsible cabinet calling the shots. The Conservative Party shot its self in the foot by refusing to be Conservative.

  12. Ian B
    September 28, 2023

    Rosebank extraction is by a primarily Norwegian State owned and Norwegian taxpaying company, that will be selling the oil on the spot market. The UK will have to get in line and pay the market rate. You could spin that to suggest the UK will have to import its own oil, therefore adding even more to the balance of payments deficit.

    The Conservative Government, support for all other States before its own people policy in action.

    Reply The jobs, the turnover and the taxes will all be here in the UK

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      @Reply – Norwegian workers, who live in Norway working on a Norwegian rig paying UK tax? A Norwegian State owned company headquartered in Norway, were does it pay taxes?
      Then to quote “despite big deficits with China and Norway”?
      That would be like suggesting a UK named company with a 60 billion turnover headquartered for tax in the Cayman Isles – actualy pays UK tax in the same manner of as a UK Domiciled indigenous company.

      I love Norway, spent a lot of time there, fabulous people, with a Government able to run a balanced Budget, they even have a State pension fund beyond this UK Conservative Governments comprehension of the reason to invest in a future.

      1. hefner
        September 28, 2023 29/05/2022 ‘UK bundles a 25% levy on fossil with tax incentives for extraction’.
        ‘Sunak offered a 90% tax relief for fossil companies that invest in new extraction projects’.

      2. Mark
        September 28, 2023

        Development of the UKCS is ring fenced for taxes. Equinor will pay the full taxes under UK law. According to Equinor:

        TechnipFMC has been awarded an integrated engineering, procurement, construction and installation (iEPCI™) contract for subsea production systems, umbilicals, risers and flowlines with an estimated value of around USD 500 million for the local content part. TechnipFMC has estimated that more than half of the contract value will be generated from local activities across the UK, with a large portion in Scotland.

        Project management and engineering activities will be performed mainly from Aberdeen and tree systems will be manufactured in Dunfermline. Umbilicals will be produced in Newcastle, pipelines will be fabricated in Evanton and the main vessel mobilisation site will also be in the UK. In addition, several other fabrication sites in the UK will contribute to the project.

        Odfjell Drilling has been awarded a rig contract, with an estimated value of USD 328 million including integrated services, modifications and options. The Deepsea Atlantic mobile rig is scheduled to start a seven-well drilling campaign in the second quarter of 2025, and in addition four single well options are included.

        Altera has been awarded a bareboat charter and an operations and maintenance contract related to the Petrojarl Knarr FPSO which is set to be deployed on the Rosebank field on a firm contract for nine years, and options up to a total of 25 years.

        Probably rather more local content than your average wind farm.

    2. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      Reported in the MsM the oil from Rosebank will not come from/to the UK. This Conservative Government has allowed the closure of UK refining facilities seemingly in the name of NetZero. So what production there is will have to be imported, so more and greater deficit created.
      The continued refusal of the Conservative Government after 13 years to support the UK, the people paying and empowering them, is a total fail for the Conservative Party.

      1. Mark
        September 28, 2023

        The MSM take their cue from the greens in these matters, without examining the facts. Rosebank will produce light 37 API oil, well suited to UK refineries – unlike most of current UKCS production which tends to be heavy and sour, and is exported to refineries equipped to handle it with Rotterdam and Germany being main destinations. The dedicated shuttle tankers (capable of holding station while loading in a storm) will need to get back to load about once a week, which limits how far they can go and who can bid economically for the oil: transshipment has to be by unloading and reloading, and adds too much cost, especially if you have to pay long haul freight on top. By law, UKCS oil must be first landed in the UK unless the government grants an export licence, which in the case of offshore loadings has to be for every exported cargo. The government is thus in a position to refuse exports, although it is unlikely to do so unless we really fall out with our neighbours. For UK refineries, currently relying mainly on Norwegian and US Gulf light crude oils, the opportunity to back out long haul US oil and cut shipping costs would make good sense, just as it makes sense to produce our own gas rather than import US LNG. Since the US is not perhaps quite as secure a supply source as we might like, given the Biden policies of no new drilling licences, and potentially export restrictions, that can only be a good thing. I would guess that the majority of the oil will be refined in the UK – probably over 80% of it. Whether we use it ourselves and cut imports or export it our balance of payments will benefit.

  13. 8agricola
    September 28, 2023

    While I applaud the opening of Rosebank and hope many more oil and gas fields will follow, the commercial structure under which our energy assets are handled only benefits government. Forcing the UK population to buy at World prices ensures that the Tax and VAT take by the goverrnment is maximised. When you add all that to the subsidies the consumer pays for so called green energy the effect is criminal. It has a negative effect on all commercial activity and is just one of the reasons in the UK why more is imported than exported, your negative balance of payments. China is probably the greatest beneficiary of governments deliberate anti population policy.
    Were we to maximise our extraction of oil and gas from land and maritime sources we would not need to buy, at World prices, these commodities from Norway, another positive for our balance of payments.
    But for praying at the false green altar we would be producing our own chemicals and heavy engineering items, so rebalancing our trade with Germany.
    Finally I want us to be making our own semi conductors. We can design them, why don’t we make them. For the UK to thrive we need British owned companies manufacturing in a tax friendly UK, and not being grown for disposal abroad which is so often the case. Ultimately we require a government that works for every citizen, something all three main political parties have lost sight of. Why must the above be constantly pointed out to you.

    1. 8agricola
      September 28, 2023

      History teaches us that neither government, politicians , nor big UK business can be trusted with the future of the UK in the world market place. You only have to look at the creation of the jet engine and its inventor Sir Frank Whittle to appreciate what a negative influence the above three factors can be. I would add that the first two factors cannot be trusted to run what has already been invented. This is not a critique of any one time event , it is of sustained failure to run anything efficiently to the benefit of its citizens. Those who disagree are free to submitt their lists of anything they feel these malign factors do well beyond serving themselves.

    2. Mark
      September 28, 2023

      We have to pay higher prices for things we import. If we build up our industry to the point where we don’t need to import we are insulated from global markets. If we build it up still further, then the extra is available for export – but only the surplus gets a global market price. Because of freight costs the swing in parity with international trade is twice the freight. Back when we had surplus crude to export, Brent prices were lower than WTI prices because the US was the importer and had to pay the import freight. Now that the boot is on the other foot, we pay the premium instead.

      Low freight costs imply efficient trading patterns, with comparative advantage deciding on who become the exporters. High freight costs lead to inefficient trading patterns, imposing higher costs on all.

  14. Bryan Harris
    September 28, 2023

    Sensible comments.

    It has become obvious to those of us that watch the shenanigans in Westminster, from a distance, that HMG has no intention of making the UK strong or do anything to improve the balance of trade.

    Why do MPs still wear their rose coloured glasses and imagine that HMG’s policies will do us any good – when in fact they will bring ruin to this country?

    MPs should take a closer look at the oppressive Bills they have signed off, extrapolate where that will take us, then review what is happening to the economy due to their inaction — The vast majority of MPs, it seems, no longer look after their constituents – but who do they serve now?

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      @Bryan Harris – Is it inaction or policy, the desire to please their Socialist WEF master by bringing about ‘the great reset’
      It cant be anything else, it is not a Conservative Government, in fact it is not a Government that recognises it is being paid and empowered to work first and foremost for the UK.

      1. Bryan Harris
        September 28, 2023

        It’s policy – They mean it all with a vengeance

  15. MFD
    September 28, 2023

    Yes, I have a long standing principle to not buy EU products and buy British where possible but it takes a lot of research. I only buy vegetables from local shops and farmers direct. We had a government “ buy British” push, time to try it again.
    Maybe the kids are too lazy for that!

  16. DOM
    September 28, 2023

    Welcome to COMMUNISM TORY STYLE – lies from Sunak knowing voters won’t be aware of this repulsive sleight of hand

    These Oxbridge bigots won’t be happy until all private activity is State controlled..

    ‘In the Government’s increasingly farcical heat pump strategy, from next year manufacturers will be fined up to £5,000 for every heat pump they fail to sell below their quota. Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph has more (warning: Lynn assumes Net Zero is necessary to “combat climate change”). ‘

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      @DOM – they either don’t think there action and diktats through or it has been the plan all along, weaken the UK so it can be manipulated further by the ruling class elsewhere. Even the Chelmsford Conservative Party has ensured that someone dedicated to taking the UK back into the EU has to be part of the plan.

  17. Lifelogic
    September 28, 2023

    So Labour U-turns on their mad plan to scrap the charitable status of private schools but still plans to apply VAT to school fees. Further killing fair competition in education and making users pay four time over if the go privately. To say they get a tax break by not having VAT is a blatant lie they pay three times over already.

    They hope to raise £1bn now it seems. It will kill many good schools, push some students to go overseas for education, harm a valuable “export” industry, over load the state schools and raise nothing net after these extra gov. costs are considered.

    An hugely damaging policy for the country. The evil politics of envy from Socialist Starmer, all for £1bn that they will not even raise anyway. Yet net zero will cost 4+ trillion & all for zero benefit.

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      @Lifelogic – if the minds of the young cant be controlled and indoctrinated, the Socialist State cant endure. Welcome to China.
      Just check out who the online safety bill seeks to protect, in the first place it is the Government of the day, then the ‘Blob’. Freedoms, democracy, free speech are all cancelled. Welcome to China.

    2. Mark
      September 28, 2023

      It seems their VAT scheme has also run into trouble: it’s against EU law we’re still signed up to.

  18. Hope
    September 28, 2023

    BOE spellings bonds at multiple billions losses shows the insanity of your govt on all main topics, you spoke about on GBNews buying gas from Russia, then UK buys and inter connects with EU while condemning Russia and giving billions of taxes to Ukraine in weapons !! What on earth is wrong with the insane govt?

    HS2 is an EU project to link all main EU cities, that is why it did not start up north, be honest JR. Of course your subsequent suggestions are perfectly sensible. But your insane govt is thinking EU not Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds!!

  19. Iago
    September 28, 2023

    We are controlled by the EU and the UK government is socialist, globalist and totalitarian. A dismaying comment I saw yesterday, ‘We came back from Croatia yesterday…. First of all most restaurants accept cash only. We befriended a restaurant owner, who explained that since the country completely converted from kuna to euro credit cards companies charges became unacceptable, so the restaurants started boycotting them….
    Another noticeable fact: there are lots of babies. Lots! So I asked the same guy about the so-called vaccination uptake. He said he does not know anybody who had it. Post-socialist wisdom lasts long!’

    1. Mike Wilson
      September 28, 2023

      What’s the relationship between vaccination uptake and lots of babies?

      1. Iago
        September 28, 2023


  20. The PrangWizard
    September 28, 2023

    There needs to be considerable concern too about why we don’t make more things here. Too many in authority and generally seem to think it is perfectly fine to buy things from abroad, that indeed we should help others by buying their goods especially if they are cheaper, often however fakely cheap. New trade deals mostly favour foreign interests.

    Most of our industries have been diminished and destroyed by government failure, and almost all economists have been quite happy to have our businesses, including strategic ones sold, usually to competitors who then close them down or take as much cash back to their countries as possible. They call foreign take-overs ‘investment’.

    Very few politicians dare talk bravely about this, oppose it and prevent it. This is another area where revolutionary change is needed to get back to a greater national interest and identity, particularly English. We hear for example of something happening in Scotland where it is Scottish, but when something happens in England it is British.

    1. The Prangwizard
      September 28, 2023

      And judging by Sir John’s ‘reply’ to Ian B’s comment above he defends his governments constant sellout of our assets to foreign competitors. He’d much rather defend his party than our national interest. Election coming folks, remember.

      I read somewhere that there will be very few jobs and how many will be given to UK residents anyway?

  21. formula57
    September 28, 2023

    Agreed, “We have come far too dependent on importing energy from Norway” but at least that is a friendly country.

    (I was favourably impressed with the love-bomb performed by the King and Queen on the French recently. It might make our energy imports from them a very little more secure.)

    O/T – I sent my own M.P. a copy of your 23rd. September diary on the Bank of England’s bond selling with the request that its perfidious activity is not overlooked so perhaps you will only have 648 of the blighters ignoring this important topic.

  22. Wanderer
    September 28, 2023

    To improve our balance of trade maybe it would be an idea not to fine companies here which sell fewer than their government-dictated quota of a product?

    The £5000 heat pump fine may drive companies away from the UK, fearing more of this sort of soviet control. Easier to manufacture overseas and sell what consumers want

  23. Bert+Young
    September 28, 2023

    The EU has done everything it can to punish us for leaving ; this being the case means we should look elsewhere for trade . It is France and Germany who mainly influence the decisions made by the EU due to their economic size in contrast to other EU members ; our efforts should exclude them first . The world is a big place with facilities far above what the EU possesses and we should exploit these opportunities with gusto .

  24. Denis+Cooper
    September 28, 2023

    Not entirely off-topic, in this article by David Cameron’s strategy chief:

    there are four references to “access” to the EU Single Market without any qualification such as “unfettered”:

    “… less than a quarter thought that leaving the EU would mean losing access to the single market … the UK would leave the EU, but would retain access to the single market … The Leave campaign did not persuade people that it was worth losing access to the single market … “There will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.””

    Considering that we have now lost “access” to the EU’s market it’s quite remarkable how much stuff we are still able to sell them – goods worth at least £166 billion in 2022. Page 27 here:

    The real question is, how much have we lost/gained by giving up our previously “unfettered” access to the EU Single Market – and likewise in principle their access to our market – and the answer to that question is that the overall impact on our economy is marginal, notwithstanding George Osborne’s “Project Fear” deceits.

  25. Ian B
    September 28, 2023

    As reported in the MsM

    ‘Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.
    The think tank said a raft of unexpected and expensive policies rolled out by recent Chancellors had led to a surge in the size of the state and fuelled Britain’s deficit, while also making forecasts less accurate.’

    “fuelled Britain’s deficit”

    It is the economy stupid! – Not having a Conservative Government, spend and tax is all they know, thats no Conservative thats Socialist. A large unfunded unaffordable State is not Conservative it is Socialism

    This Conservative Government after 13years owns the problems they alone have created.

    The Conservative Party should hang its head in shame.

    1. Ian B
      September 28, 2023

      Is the up and coming political conference, a Conservative one, or a Conservative Party inspired Socialist WEF indoctrination secession?
      They need to change their name and be honest about their endeavours.

  26. Ian B
    September 28, 2023

    Quote from elswhere “Blair and Brown broke the roof Cameron and May failed to fix the the roof when the sun was shining Boris and Sunak pulled down what was left of the roof and we are all going to get wet.”

  27. Denis+Cooper
    September 28, 2023

    Off topic, the BBC is still using a grossly misleading graphic in its explanation of the Windsor Framework:

    Because the checks are being applied to the WRONG flow of goods, those entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain rather than those leaving Northern Ireland for the Irish Republic, all goods production in the province must be governed by EU law under the supervision of the EU Commission and the EU Court of Justice.

    And it is clear that the UK government has absolutely no intention to try to rectify this and shift the checks to the correct flow of goods, they would rather see Northern Ireland drift away from the rest of the UK. They call themselves “Conservative and Unionist”, but they are shamefully careless about the integrity of the UK.

    1. Denis+Cooper
      September 28, 2023

      “European Court of Justice fines Britain €32m over failure to stop private pleasure boats using marked fuel”

      “Ruling sets precedent for large fines if EU law is breached in Northern Ireland in future”

      “The court ruled on Thursday that there had been a period of noncompliance by Britain in 2020 while it was in its Brexit “transition period”, at a time it had left the EU but its law continued to apply in all of the UK.

      From January 1st, 2021, there was a period of noncompliance when Northern Ireland alone was subject to the EU law, under post-Brexit agreements that kept it in line with the single market to avoid a hard border while the rest of the UK diverged.”

      “The ECJ rejected an argument put forward by lawyers for the British state that the fine should be set in proportion with the size of Northern Ireland’s economy alone, and not Britain’s overall GDP.

      A fine that only took into account the GDP of Northern Ireland “would not be sufficiently dissuasive and therefore would not make it possible to achieve the aim of effectively preventing the repetition of similar infringements of EU law in the future”, the court ruled, according to an ECJ statement.

      In addition, the court noted that it “is the United Kingdom’s authorities and not those of Northern Ireland, which are responsible for the proper application of EU law in Northern Ireland”.

      “It is therefore appropriate to take into account the GDP of the United Kingdom as a whole for the entire period of the infringement for the purpose of determining its ability to pay,” the court found.”

      “The ECJ’s advocate general Anthony Collins …”, who is Irish …

      A fine mess Boris Johnson created there.

      1. a-tracy
        September 28, 2023

        Blimin heck how many pleasure boats are there? This just reminds us how why we wanted out, just so sick of being the wallet, so well done EU.

      2. Mickey Taking
        September 29, 2023

        any excuse the UK- hating Europeans can find to beat us up!

        And we are expected to remain friends!

    2. Denis+Cooper
      September 29, 2023

      Further to the above, an article in today’s Belfast News Letter explains some of the complexity that is involved in labelling retail food products under the Windsor Framework, and warns that many small shops will fail to comply – in which case the UK as a whole will be exposed to fines from the ECJ.

      “However, trying to untangle exactly which foodstuffs this applies to is fiendishly difficult, and gives an insight into the baffling nature of much of the post-Brexit arrangements.

      Besides plain meat, for example, among the other meat-related foods which must now be labelled “not for EU” are “compound products”, which the government says “includes chicken kievs and cheeseburgers”.

      But, it adds, this does not include “lasagne, pork pies, or pepperoni pizza”.

      Instead those items are classed as “composite products”.

      The government has a website giving guidance about which products must be labelled.

      If you search that webpage for what a “compound product” is, it takes you to another long and technical page which does not once mention the term, and instead talks only about “compound ingredients”.

      As to what a “composite product” is and how it differs from a “compound product”, the government’s guidance page says: “Composite products are products that contain both products of plant origin and processed products of animal origin for human consumption.”

      It is a little bit clearer which dairy products are covered …. ”

      All this is because the EU checks and controls are being applied to the WRONG flow of goods; the burden of correctly identifying and labelling goods in order to protect the EU Single Market should fall on those who wish to export goods into the EU Single Market, not on importers from GB and traders internal to NI.

      “Surely “not for EU” should be the default position, and those internally traded goods should not require any such special labelling, while the trickle of goods across the border should be regulated through a system of export licences.”

      I see here:

      that David Jones wants the Windsor Framework renegotiated, but Rishi Sunak has ruled that out.

      In any case there would have to be an alternative scheme to protect the EU Single Market.

      Reply I voted against this Agreement and urge the resumption of the NI Protocol Bill.

  28. Iago
    September 28, 2023

    I realise it stretches credulity, but the goverment should be doing or saying something to aid the Christian Armenians, who are being expelled from Artsakh. There are 120,000 of them and they are in deadly danger. No country is coming to their aid.

  29. XY
    September 28, 2023

    Off topic, from the Spectator:

    “The BBC has announced a set of new rules for flagship presenters which will allow them to express views on issues and policies but stop short of political campaigning.”

    Now that they have abandoned impartiality, they have clearly abandoned their status as an impartial State broadcaster and can no longer be funded by State-controlled means.

    It is also questionable how the BBC is able to set its own operating guidelines – how can they decide this? How can they decide that over 75s pay the licence fee (despite agreeing with govt that they would not do that)?

    And no, I’m not over 75 or close to it.

    1. Original Richard
      September 28, 2023

      XY ;

      Not sure I know the difference between expressing views on issues and political campaigning.

      However I have no wish to prevent flagship presenters either expressing views or stopping political campaigning as I would rather know their views to be able to better judge their output, particularly for all those issues where feelings are more important than facts, such as CAGW and Net Zero.

      Although we have a TV tax I’m not yet forced to watch the BBC, although this may be coming with the advent of smart meters.

      1. XY
        September 29, 2023

        But it isn’t about you, it’s about people in general.

        We must consider the effect of such views on the average intellect. Informed people can detect bias and fallacy, lesser minds cannot – in fact they are disposed to believe the views of their idols and role models. The likes of Lineker have followers who are dumb enough to believe what he says is true.

        Some people believe something based on how passionately it is expressed. The point in having a State TV service that is unbiased is to present facts without bias and help people to see how things are. If it cannot do that, then it must not be State funded. That was my point.

  30. Peter D Gardner
    September 28, 2023

    Why can’t the UK manufacture good competitively?

    1. Mike Wilson
      September 28, 2023

      Why can’t the UK manufacture good competitively?

      Seriously. Energy costs are highest in the world – despite sitting on massive energy sources of our own. Bloke in India can buy a house for two Bob, bloke here needs £50k salary to afford a hole in the road to live in. Need I go on?

      1. Bloke
        September 29, 2023

        Would my two bob house in India have a florin?

    2. glen cullen
      September 28, 2023

      We put in a bid once to fabricate a part for JCB, we didn’t win, it went to a east european country firm, who we later found out had subcontracted it to china ….the winning bid price was less than we could even purchase the steel for in the UK

  31. James 4
    September 28, 2023

    You promised us too that we would have cheaper food and footwear.. you promised us the sunny uplands but if hasn’t come to pass – all I see is money going round and round with no growth – empty promises

  32. Lindsay+McDougall
    September 28, 2023

    Many of our vehicle production companies are foreign owned, including German owned companies. Do you expect Germany to act against its own interests? The EU has treated our exporters pretty badly, particularly with regard to bureaucratic delays. It treats American exporters better. We should tell EU nations – the French in particular – that unless they employ more officials to clear our exports promptly and/or grant trusted trade status to more UK exporters, then we shall cease all payments to the EU. And we should let it be known that if the EU slaps a tariff on UK made electric cars because the batteries are imported, then we will retaliate.

  33. outsider
    September 28, 2023

    Dear Sir John,
    You are right that we need to produce more but it is perhaps worth remembering that the government deficit and the BoP deficit are joined at the hip.
    As the Cambridge economist Wynne Godley put it: “The deficit of the general government is everywhere and always equal (by definition) to the current account deficit plus the excess of private saving over investment.”
    In other words, the state deficit can only be financed by people saving more (as we did briefly during the lockdown but reversed with a vengence with inflation), by savings being switched from productive investment to government consumption or by people abroad lending us money, starting business here ( as at the new oilfield) or buying up UK businesses and property.
    Over the past 20 years or more, we have sold so much of our assets to finance consumption that our net income from abroad, which used to shore up the BoP, has turned to a deficit that makes our current payments deficit even worse.
    We have been leeching off the rest of the world for 40 years and unless we stop this we shall never return to sustainable growth in economic output per head.

    1. Mark
      September 28, 2023

      Quite right. We have been selling the family silver to prop ourselves up. We don;t have enough left to sell to afford the net zero bill, so it won’t happen. But we will be very poor while they try.

  34. hefner
    September 28, 2023

    O/T a quick lesson on vocabulary (thanks to the DT):
    When PM Sunak changes his mind on HS2, Rosebank or green targets, it is a reset.
    When Starmer changes his mind on the charitable status of private schools, it is a U-turn.

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      September 28, 2023

      Sadly Sunak has so far just tinkered with both policies and not U Turned. Speed the day we can accuse him of u-turning!

    2. Martin in Bristol
      September 28, 2023

      Sky, Guardian, Channel 4 news, the FT, LSE, Al Jazeera, the Independent are just a few who use the words “U turns” about the PM
      The Mirror even has a U turn tracker about the PM.
      Try a quick internet search.

      1. Mickey Taking
        September 29, 2023

        are you Martin ex-Nottingham, ex-Cardiff?

      2. hefner
        September 29, 2023

        As I had said: a vocabulary lesson from the DT, ie The Daily Telegraph.

        1. Martin in Bristol
          September 29, 2023

          I gave several examples which showed that most media companies do not use the terms you refer to.
          Making your very partial argument weak.
          Shocked you read the Dailly Telegraph

  35. Derek
    September 28, 2023

    There was a time when our ‘Balance of Payments’ were essential to forward planning for the Treasury and the BoE. So much so that when the deficit got out of hand, a depreciation and FX devaluation of our currency followed.
    Today, that vital statistic seems to be ignored due to, I presume, “Modern Monetary Theory”, which permits money printing without collateral. That has been tried before of course, by the Weirmar Republic and Zimbabwe and neither ended up saving their Nation from bankruptcy.
    Now it seems to me as though our economic experts at the Treasury and in the BoE believe they can do the same thing all over again and expect a different result.
    So does the country really want a reputation of constantly redefining the definition of insanity?

  36. Enigma
    September 28, 2023

    Help us save British family farms. has a petition asking supermarkets to commit to 5 principles
    1. Buy what you committed to buy
    2. Pay on time
    3. Commit for the long term
    4. Agree on fair specifications
    5. Pay what you agreed to pay

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      September 28, 2023

      I see Labour intend to extend ‘death duty’ to farms and businesses – ‘closing loopholes’. So it’s more than the supermarkets attacking farming.
      Incidentally Scotland apparently intend to levy death duty at 20% above £35,000, so every homeowner caught in the ‘independent net’. Surely the independence of this assembly has gone too far? Their wings need to be severely clipped or better still, amputated.

      1. Mickey Taking
        September 29, 2023

        More reasons to drive farmers’ offspring to abandon farming on parent’s death.

  37. glen cullen
    September 28, 2023

    Eight years ago the voting majority won the referendum to leave the EU and all its institutions ….but today its reported that the European Court of Justice is fining the UK £32 million ….thats 32 million reasons why I blame the tories and not labour for not fully complying with the spirit and content of the referendum, and I’ll never believe them

  38. John
    September 28, 2023

    Out of curiosity I checked Switzerland’s trade balance. Apparently a surplus of $ 10s of bn per year in a small country. Yes, it’s well-known for its rather large ‘money industry’, which some dislike, but so surely is the City.

    More usefully it seems to have invested in niche areas of manufacturing industry and to have prospered accordingly. Shouldn’t the UK have explored such possibilities years ago? To its credit, Switzerland not only stayed out of the EU but resolved a few years ago never to apply again.

    To reply to Lynn Atkinson, perhaps let Scotland go its own way like Ireland (most) did in 1922. Then one needn’t worry about its internal tax rates.

  39. APL
    September 30, 2023

    Mr Redwood, What is the correct penalty for a Speaker in a House set up to mimic the House of Commons when the Speaker lies to the house ?

    I’m thinking of the recent case in the Canadian Commons where the then Speaker, Anthony Rota introduced Yaroslav Hunka a military veteran of the NAZI SS, claiming Hunka, ‘fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians‘. Etc ed

    He’s now resigned. But what penalty is there for a current or former Speaker who deliberately lies to the House?

    Reply The obvious penalty is to dismiss him from the role of Speaker. The role of Speaker requires the candidate to get enough votes to win the job. What Parliament can award it can remove. The answer is the penalty can be anything Parliament wishes, as they can vote through what they wish.

    1. APL
      September 30, 2023

      JR: “Etc ed”

      How odd that you would remove that bit. It was the truth. Are you scared of the truth these days ?

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