“Marriage has many pains…but celibacy has no pleasures” Samuel Johnson 1759. A letter to the editor

Image by succo from Pixabay

Of course, our PM, who obviously prides himself in ignoring virtually all the norms of respectful, moral citizens, would regard the above as being nothing to do with him. With three marriages, multiple both publicised and, I would expect, hidden affairs, as well as an unknown number of children he confirms the first part but would have no knowledge of the ‘no pleasures’ bit.

However, the real reason for me raising the above is actually a metaphor highlighting Johnson’s real crime: Brexit and the most awful situation that his personal ego and ambition has brought upon the UK.

Our right-wing press are desperately clinging to the notion that any trade deal, however damaging, or new investment in the UK, is evidence of the benefits of Brexit. What?

Let’s take Nissan, who have had a very successful experience in the UK, mainly due to government subsidy, a keen and previously unemployed workforce, and all the advantages of being within the EU. Theresa May promised them a subsidy and most recently they made the decision to build an electric car battery plant in the UK. This was not a vote of confidence, but a rational decision based on the fact that under the new rules batteries will have to be produced here or all car production in the UK would attract tariffs making their cars and vans unsaleable in Europe. Hardly a vote of confidence! More one of cold logic!

Over the last twenty-odd years I have either run or represented US companies wishing to expand into Europe. They chose the UK as their springboard for a variety of reasons. I will take you through the history of the most successful one.

An Israeli company had developed a very innovative way to link various commercial databases easily and automatically to speed up both accounting, distribution and marketing. The developers formed a company in the US and opened in Silicon Valley. Their first big customer, and investor, was a Dutch ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) company who had carried out an IPO (initial public offering of stock) in the US.

I was appointed as Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Aftica (EMEA) to further sales mainly in Europe.

So why go for a UK guy? Well, we shared a common (almost) language, our UK lawyers were a branch of the US company, there were few barriers to forming the UK legal entity, my bank were very willing to help and all legalities were speedy and efficient. Furthermore, as an EU member I could travel with no impediment, flights to and from the US were plentiful and cheap.

Initially there was me plus one Israeli technical guy who spoke immaculate English and regarded the whole thing as a great adventure. I actually based him with our biggest customer in the Netherlands and spent most of my time there as well. I opened an office in Guildford and set about forming a proper company organisation. I found a recruiter, an English guy based in Amsterdam, and together we grew the company. This entailed forming satellite companies in Germany, France and Nordic countries as well as distributors in Spain and Italy. There were obviously a few differences in employment terms between the countries but easily resolved.

The UK office grew with centralised IT and HR and marketing was spread between our EU offices to take into account regional differences. Country of origin was never a factor in recruitment and many EU staff worked from Head Office.

At the time it was generally perceived that the area that accepted ‘new technology’ first was the Nordics. My office there was in Malmo, in Sweden, but the guy who headed it up was from Norway (not an EU member, but he had no restrictions).

By 2001 we had 68 employees, accounted for 55 per cent of world sales and were acquired by the world’s largest ERP company for US $400 m. All possible because of the UK’s membership of the EU, easy travel, a multi-talented workforce, hard work and a unified purpose.

So, what would happen today​? Would you as a US/Israeli company choose to spearhead through the UK?  I don’t think so. Look at the barriers. Holding a trade exhibition in Europe would require endless visas, paperwork and logistical problems. Support folk would need to declare equipment and make sure that they kept a record their travel to keep to the 90 day rule. If it was me, I would establish a European office in the Netherlands or perhaps Germany or France and would make the UK a branch office and possibly not part of the first wave.

Because Johnson and his totally unaware bunch don’t understand commerce and indeed say ‘f..k business’ we are already losing out all around the room…and going to lose more.

I am 70 years old now. We recently sold our house in France at a loss of about £200,000 as a result of Brexit. I now have to isolate for 10 days on my return from bringing personal stuff from our house and will probably have to pay VAT on things we have owned for 20 years!

My wife is a GP suffering from work overload and the effects of the Tory government handling of Covid-19.

Our local MP is Selaine Saxby, extremely unpopular with all folk that I know in North Devon. She does not answer my emails anymore, mainly because prior to the election in 20019 she stated that she ‘doesn’t think’ we will be worse off after Brexit, against the opinion of every think tank, government agency, bank and informed organisation. And, yes, she is the same Selaine Saxby who attacked local restaurants providing free school meals for needy children in a Facebook post which she later deleted. [You can read about the incident here. Ed.]

I should also point out that sheep farmers in her constituency and across Devon will be ruined by the Australia deal, and fishermen are totally let down here, too.

Her main claim to fame and qualification as a Tory MP was to have started up a sports bra company that was put into insolvency. You really couldn’t make it up!

Keep calm and carry on?  B*ll*cks!


i went to France to collect personal items following the sale of our house near Carcassonne. When I booked my trip, hired a van etc, France was due to go on to the Amber list. This meant that I would need my vaccination certificate plus an Antigen test to gain entry. France then dropped the need for the test which meant another £29.00 wasted!

At the time I just needed to show a negative Antigen test to get back into UK. Then of course it all changed. The British government then announce France was Amber Plus which mean’t I had to buy a 2 and an 8 day test and quarantine on my return.

Reason? The Beta variant. Of course France has mainly the Johnson (Delta) variant. Virtually all Beta results have been in French dominion Reunion which is 5800 miles away from France. This decision was defended by geography expert Dominic Raab (he who was confused about Dover being important for UK exports/imports) After all he is only the Foreign Secretary. Reunion, by the way, is only on the Amber list!

You really couldn’t make this up if you were scripting a comedy movie. How can we put up with these complete idiots?