I hesitate to bring this up, but it seems fair to wonder how much sunshine is falling on the optimistic uplands of our post-Brexit life. Anyone hoping to bask in that economic heatwave will find that all we have so far are stormy clouds, with darker weather forecast.
The pro-Brexit international trade secretary Dr Liam Fox seems to flit and fly around the world as our eternally optimistic salesman, shoving his foot in doors and then trying to bamboozle us about the small-print.
The likes of Dr Fox – and there’s a name that doesn’t often keep company with the world ‘like’ – put much faith in deals to be struck with the US. How’s that going then?
The headlines are not encouraging, unless you’re the sort who wants more expensive medicines for the NHS, your chicken washed in chlorine, a bigger sprinkling of pesticides on your vegetables, fruit and nuts, your meat to come from animals fed a diet of hormones and steroids, and milk that might contain more pus, thanks to the US wanting more white blood cells in milk than is accepted anywhere else in the world, even though this can indicate that the cow has an infection.
My, this post-Brexit breakfast is looking lovely.
The likes of Dr Fox – there we go again – put great faith in deals with the US, and a while ago he could be heard complaining that he wished everyone would shut up about chicken dipped in chlorine as it annoys the Americans.
And what’s all this with the chlorine anyway? Apparently, it allows the Americans to rinse meat in antimicrobial wash instead of keeping and killing animals in healthy conditions.
Good God, if that happens I might even walk to the vegan end of the table, even though everyone going on about veganism gets on my nerves; but that’s another grumble.
President Trump has already started to complain about our “socialised medicine” service pushing up the prices of pharmaceuticals in the US, and he wants to force a deal that lowers prices at home and makes the NHS and other services pay more.
On top of all that, here is a headline from the Observer – “Secret Brexit deal could threaten future of Scotch.”
According to this alarming theory, a post-Brexit deal with the US could see a glut of imports from the US that would threaten distillers of scotch whisky.
US trade groups want to drop the EU requirements relating to the ageing of whisky, allowing US producers to promote younger products as whiskey (the spelling for non-Scottish spirit, as also used by the Irish, who make some decent stuff).
The likes of Dr Fox – that’s the last one, honest – don’t want us to talk about any of this as the talks are sensitive and confidential, but thankfully Greenpeace has been sticking its oar in and asking awkward questions on our behalf.
On top of all these alarming possibilities, the US also wants to do away with the protected designation of origin. And if that all sounds a bit technical, what they want to do is make their own cheese that can be passed off as stilton.
First they come for your whisky, then they ruin stilton. Now this is getting serious.
The designation requires that a product bearing a place name be produced in or near that place: a restriction, yes, but a good restriction; a restriction that helps maintain genuine local produce.
The trouble with Britain trying to deal with the US, and let’s not even be distracted by Trump the disruptor for the moment, is that the US will be much more powerful in any post-Brexit trade deal. And we could end up swallowing expensive medicine and dodgy food as proscribed by Dr Fox.