Open Letter to Sir John

Posted: March 21, 2016 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Wise words from an experienced politician

Roger Helmer MEP

santa pod

He stands with the Union Jack.  But is he campaigning for Brussels?

Dear Sir John,

I am sure you will remember the memorable night in Huntingdon — in 1978 I think — when I had the privilege of voting for you as the Conservative Candidate for the Huntingdon Constituency.  I believe we have met once or twice since.

I have just read your piece in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, and it is such a litany of old, tired and discredited clichés, and slogans from years ago, that I really have to take issue with some of your points.

“Reckless to divorce ourselves from the world’s pre-eminent trading block”.  Pre-eminent?  The only major economic area in the world in long term relative decline?  Shouldn’t we be looking outward to the rest of the world (including the Anglosphere and the Commonwealth) where the growth and the opportunities are?  And who said “divorce”? …

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  1. Fanakapan says:

    I like the term ‘Anglosphere’.

    But, we ought to remember that once we discount the USA as being a self sufficient producer, and Canada as being by virtue of vicinity, completely sewn up by the US, then what remains is likely smaller in numbers than the population of London.

    No doubt the Sub Continent will be thrown in as a potential huge market, but I’m convinced that those who make the suggestion have never seen how the Indo/Pak folks do business. Very few crumbs fall from that table, and they are innovative to the degree that they would rather make ‘Stuff’ themselves as opposed to buying it in.

    As for China, in short, they dont Buy stuff, they sell it, period.

    Whats left of the world, collectively does not have much of a pot, so obviously no huge untapped market there.

    Clearly trade with the EU in the event of an Out vote will not stop. But it is more than likely that trading from without the club may not be as vibrant, or as easy as it is from within. But lets not pretend that there’s massive slack in the world that Britain can penetrate in the event that selling to club members becomes harder.

    This idea the coming out of the EU means increased trading opportunities is entirely disingenuous, and no doubt stems from the idea that the EU will impose no penalties upon trading with the UK, should the UK place itself outside of the club and its membership rules ? If the EU were to allow such a situation, it would be sowing the seeds of its own destruction. And however much Europhobes may like to see the EU embark upon its own dissolution, its not very likely that its going to happen.

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    USA self sufficient producer? I think you vastly underrate our ability to buy more than we can ever make.

    The United States is the 2nd largest export economy in the world and the 11th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2013, the United States exported $1.42T and imported $2.13T, resulting in a negative trade balance of $715B. In 2013 the GDP of the United States was $16.8T and its GDP per capita was $53k.

    Yes, $2.13 Trillion (I think Mum called that a million million or 10^12 ) of imports and $715 billion ( or thousand million old school) of it not even offset with exports.

    I think the UK could find a way to cut a slab off those $ Trillions…

    And Canada a captive? Not at all. They export timber everywhere and import lots of New Zealand lamb. IIRC, they’ve a fondness for English tea, tea sets, and Scotish woolens in particular. Can’t get those from us. (or the mushy peas and treacle I get at the British section of our grocery and more.)

    You have a strange view of our side of the pond.

    BTW, I dropped about $4,000 sending my daughter to the UK for a cultural immersion (aka vacation) trip a dozen years back. That, too, is trade. My sister was there a few months back. My last trip was about 30 years ago, but wife wants to go over soon. Son went to Australia on his trip, but UK “soon”. I suspect that just having trips from the global sons and daughters of the Anglosphere could keep the place running… BTW, I like the British Import beer here, that we just can’t make right. A bit pricy as a daily drink, but I suspect that relates to EU taxes…

  3. oldbrew says:

    Bad news: British beer is highly taxed relative to most of Europe except Scandinavia.

  4. Fanakapan says:

    @ E.M.Smith

    The UK does not exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to producing goods that Americans would want to buy, outside of niche products that is. And I somehow doubt that selling Pringle sweaters will keep old Blighty in clover 🙂

    Without wanting to sound too negative, the sad fact is that the UK has never really been successful at volume selling outside of areas where it did not benefit from some lack of competition, whether that be the old Sterling Area, or the home and relatively captive market.

    Much of business success today is achieved by foreign companies who like the UK not only for its access to the EU Single Market, but also the pools of relatively cheap and competent labour that existed after the business inferno of the early 80’s. Should withdrawal from the EU result in an erosion of profits, then these companies, who owe no allegiance to Queen and Country, could well be tempted to quit and set up elsewhere in the ‘Club’.

    Of course I could be completely wrong, and the EU might give a lapsed member exactly the same privileges that continuing members enjoy, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on that. And somehow this notion that ‘They need Us more than We need Them’ is something that I’ve seen too many times in my life to be a losing gambit 😦

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    The UK invented jet engines, vacuum tubes / electronics, the computer, and so much more. While often attributed to the USA, it was the UK what done it. The STEN gun and Mosquito from W.W.II are stellar examples of creativity and the power of small lot manufacturing.

    Just off the top of my head, things that would sell into the US market in small lot scale:

    Reproduction classical British Arms. I’d like a (Maltese Falcon) Webly Fosberry Automatic Revolver and a Lee Enfield rifle (though in .308 NATO instead of .303 British… though many will want the original). The Italians have a thriving market here selling us reproductions of our own wild west revolvers… yours could have the actual brand name. A true British Sports car ala Triumph et al. A reproduction Mosquito, though at smaller scale. Oh, and Merlin Engines and parts are desired all over the collector market… Really Nice upscale wool suits with that Oxford look. Thing made in English units… you ought to have an advantage in that area… like inch units tools and dies, rulers, etc. Books books books; you invented this language, take the helm again! From “How To Properly Speak English!” to Thrillers (that nobody does better… and Mysteries… Oh, and Harry Potter…), movies and more. Insurance and financial products (play on that reputation for fair play…). Jams, jellies, chutneys, teas, sauces, tinned goods (yes, I know it is a competative market, but we already buy some of those brands) Precision metals goods and parts; you have a reputation for skill there. Medical devices, high margin low volume with high US prices. Get in there and take a chunk! Also realize that millions of folks would buy a “nostalgia tour” vacation Play on that and play it up. Have W.W.II tours where history buff or veteran’s kids can tour where history happened. Have “History of Industrial Revolution” tours (with CEUs) looking at places where key tech formed (mostly selling pub and meals and a good story), or get Harry Potter World built and rake in $ Millions. I’d also pay for an immersive “Who Done It?” Murder Mystery participation set in a classical British Estate house. (Stables and riding lessons available for the kids…). I’m sure you can think of more themes. Oh, and beer, just get the price down near everyone else… if you can get domestic taxes off of export beer, I’ll support 2 or 3 works all on my own! 😉 Then there’s fish products (why are the Polar brand kippers I buy made in Germany, not the U.K.?) and shipping services. Oh, and the UK Tanks and planes are as good as the U.S. products, so Arms Merchant ought to work too (why ought the USA get the bulk of the sales?), then sell drugs and bandages too… UK Drug companies have traditionally had clue.

    Well, thats my short list…

  6. Fanakapan says:


    Hmmmmm, its just a thought, but, many of the things you mention, sort of prove my point ?

    The jet engine for example ? Rolls Royce went bust back in the 70’s, and had not the G of the time stepped in, that would have been that. It took the Americans to get the Jet out as a truly mass produced item. And I’m not sure that being a nation of ‘Small’ producers is going to bring in the sort of money that would afford most the sort of lifestyle they feel they ought to have ?

    As you point out, a lot of good things are made here. The problem seems to have always been making money from them on a scale which befits one of the 10 largest economies in the world 🙂

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, an interesting thing. Turns out the USA is THE largest buyer of UK products… so looks like thd USA IS happy to buy stuff from you… even with EU Taxes and not being in “the club”. Just think how much more that could be unencumbered by Brussels.

    The United Kingdom is the 11th largest export economy in the world and the 5th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2013, the United Kingdom exported $453B and imported $628B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $174B. In 2013 the GDP of the United Kingdom was $2.68T and its GDP per capita was $38.3k.

    The top exports of the United Kingdom are Cars ($40.7B), Refined Petroleum ($29.8B), Crude Petroleum ($22.7B), Packaged Medicaments ($20.3B) and Gas Turbines ($17.2B), using the 1992 revision of the HS (Harmonized System) classification. Its top imports are Cars ($40.3B), Crude Petroleum ($39.6B), Refined Petroleum ($28.8B), Packaged Medicaments ($18B) and Computers ($16.2B).

    The top export destinations of the United Kingdom are the United States ($50.2B), Germany ($46.6B), the Netherlands ($36B), France ($28.8B) and Belgium-Luxembourg ($25.1B). The top import origins are Germany ($88.8B), China ($55.2B), the Netherlands ($52.1B), France ($39B) and the United States ($37.8B).

    So a $42 B deficit with Germany and a $22 B surplus with the USA.

    Looks to me like it is selling into the EU that’s the problem….

    So if you leave the EU, and they get pissy and cut off trade, you GAIN $42B + $16B+$10B = $68 Billion of balance of trade just from the top 3 trade “partners” in the EU. Now why do I think the EU won’t kiss off $68 Billion per year?…

    OTOH, anything that makes trade with the USA easier just increases your gains,

    Interesting to note that both imports and exports list a lot of the same things. Cars, crude, petroleum products. So the UK could, worst case, drive more of their own cars, not BMW & M.B., and shift their refinery mix… IMHO, the turbines is likely the Rolls Royce engines sold for jets globally. As the USA has a lot of oil, and uses a lot of petroleum products, and drives a lot of cars, the UK could easily shift sourcing and markets here, minus the German cars.

    Looks to me like drugs are a wash, but the UK could grow there easily. Start making more combined cycle gas power plants using those turbines, and increase those sales a lot, maybe add a small modular nuke program and tell EDF to bugger off…

    Frankly, with only modest effort, I think I could manage directing the changes needed to make that happen. Even without building Potter World…