“Now I can see the full carnage of what this government has done to my industry and the wider economy.”

Warning: contains strong and, in the editor’s opinion, entirely justifable language.

I am now at the end of January 2021 and still no new stock. I can see clearly what #Brexit really means for my industry & how I will have to fundamentally change my business model if I am to be trading in 12 months’ time. But the government wants more paperwork in five months.

This week I have been kept busy by planning how to ship wine to minimise the substantial rising costs. Now I can see the full carnage of what this government has done to my industry and the wider economy. But still no apology from any government official.

My business was big on Groupage shipping which meant we could offer a very broad selection of mid ranged wines to our customers all over the U.K. . It is this ranging which makes us who we are and why we win all our trade awards.

However, Brexit has put paid to that because of the paperwork now required, and more importantly the related cost for each document. It’s simply not viable to ship multiple wines with multiple paperwork on one or two pallets anymore. Another Brexit Dividend.

The wine trade will suffer a reduction in ranging as specialised wine importers like me will work to find ways to try & keep as much as possible with the minimum of increase. But prices have already started to increase. That £1.50 increase is a Valentine’s Day treat.

To try and maintain the same service in one region I have arranged to ship 9 pallets of wine with one set of documents, where before I would ship one or two pallets. I have only been able to do this with the help from suppliers & customers bulking up the total shipment.

Then on Tuesday the government announced that, despite bitter opposition from 99.9% of the wine industry on a global basis, they propose to introduce Vi-1 from July 1st 2021 and apparently have the trades’ support. Yes, folks, more fucking paperwork and lies from government!! * see below for latest developments

People will not know what a Vi-1 is: here is a short explanation.This document confirms the origin of a wine under lab conditions normally and is an analysis of alcohol among other things. Its introduction would restrict the U.K. industry as a wine destination hub for ALL wine.

So why on earth would the government be doing this and more importantly why has @VictoriaPrentis misrepresented this both to the HOC and the HOL with the support from the industry she does not have. It’s a lie to say that the trade wants this and the red tape it brings.

To just confirm all wine already conforms to strict rules which are set out by the local authorities where it is made. The UK government has already forced producers in the EU to get REX numbers which confirms wine origins.

So now this government want wineries to confirm that their Bordeaux wine made in Bordeaux which has already undergone local certification, is certified again as Bordeaux and then lab tested to check it’s from Bordeaux. What a waste of fucking time and money!

The government does not understand how wine works and doesn’t consult with the industry. That’s a pity as it’s now the UK’s preferred alcoholic beverage and it’s essential that when the on-trade reopens it’s in good shape to support this side of the industry which is on its knees.

We can all agree that eventually we will get past Covid (no thanks to Johnson) & when tourism starts again we will need a strong hospitality industry. Well, folks, this is dependent on a strong wine industry so this is important for all of us.

It’s also worth noting that government seems to think we can just drink wines from countries outside the EU. Again this is a myth. New world countries do not produce anywhere near the volume required to replace EU wines. It’s much better for the environment if we drink EU.

To conclude #Brexit has severely damaged the Wine trade FOREVER. Wine costs more, choices have declined , the government wants more red tape for an industry it does not understand, & the Chief importer system from 1988 won’t be replaced anytime soon. #teethingproblems 🤦🏻‍♂️

Originally tweeted by Daniel Lambert (Wines). 🇪🇺🇫🇷🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🍇🥂 (@DanielLambert29) on 30/01/2021.

*Miles Beale, Chief Executive of Wine & Spirit Trade Association, responded to Daniel’s tweet as follows:

“This is not *quite* right. The gov is NOT introducing Vi1s for EU wine importing, which require a lab test.

But… it is introducing (simpler, cheaper) EU<~>UK wine import certificates…

This is what we needed, better than expected but not everything @wstauk [Wine and Spirit Trade Association] argued for…”

Beale continues:
“There are good arguments why the gov should not introduce even the simplified forms on 1 July and @wstauk’s minimum ask is the ‘forms’ are introduced electronically – if they have to be at all.

AND @wstauk is arguing that UK should seek to abolish Vi1s for RoW wine trading. Full stop 🛑 They are unnecessary!

PS Tuesday and Thursday saw Parliament pass a Statutory Instrument to put into effect the Trade & Cooperation Agreement’s requirements, including…Wine import certificates (possibly electronic) *instead of* full Vi1s”

So 🍷🥂half full?!

Originally tweeted by Miles Beale (@WSTA_Miles) on 30/01/2021.

Editor’s comments:
You might be interested to read the comments made in delegated legislation committee which you can read in full here.

It is tempting to pull out some extracts, and I will succumb to that temptation:
Here is Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP Cambridge challenging Ms Prentis the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

“The Prime Minister’s negotiating strategy, based on brinkmanship, determined that, and this weekend’s newspapers were full of the consequences. He said that there would be “no non-tariff barriers”, and the Minister will remember my fury on the day she briefed MPs, just after Christmas, at what I consider to be an outrageous misrepresentation. Everywhere we turn, we see businesses struggling with new rules and complexities. Although it is hard to imagine how much worse it could have been, it could have been even worse, so we understand why the legislation was needed urgently. In many cases, however, these are interim or bridging arrangements, as described in the explanatory memorandum. My fear is that there will be a lot of bridging in the months and years ahead, but we will deal with that as it comes….

I am sure the Minister has seen some of the stories in the media in recent days concerning the problems encountered by wine importers. There is a six-month transitional period before the rules in this instrument apply, so one could say that the troubles have only just begun. I am sure she will have seen the coverage of the problems faced by Daniel Lambert, which have been widely reported. He has speculated about the extra costs and what they might translate into. An extra £1 a bottle on a bottle of wine may not slip down well with some Government Members’ constituents, so there may be some explaining to do.

In my constituency, Hal Wilson, who runs the excellent Cambridge Wine Merchants, tells me that it has 19,000 bottles of red wine from Spain currently stuck in the system. I fear from past experience that the Secretary of State will tell us that this is an excellent opportunity for English wine growers, but I would gently say to the Government that it might be worth their while getting this sorted out. Like most people, I want my red wine in a glass, not a warehouse.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association argues that 99.5% of the wine consumed in the UK is imported, and it therefore makes little sense to roll over EU-based legislation—in the WSTA’s view, the legislation was designed to act as a non-tariff barrier to protect EU wine producers—now that the transition period has ended. The WSTA makes a serious point, and I wonder whether the Minister could comment on it. It says that, even with the new simplified approach to wine import documentation for EU wine imports in the TCA, the requirement is still burdensome for producers and importers alike, while the requirement for the costly VI-1 form for non-EU wine remains.

Here is the initial part of Prentis’s response –

“This is not the time or the place for a discussion of the rights and wrongs of Brexit, or indeed the rights and wrongs of the TCA. I am extremely pleased that we were able to agree a tariff-free arrangement for trading with our friends and neighbours in the EU.”

It is this tariff-free mantra that is being rammed into the ears of the layman. Sounds so good, doesn’t it? But is it frictionless trade? No. It is not. It is friction-full and that is what is killing or damaging business.

And, yes, Prentis did try to put a positive spin on it :

The hon. Gentleman pressed me about the future. It is true that leaving the EU gives us the ability to look critically at the laws we have inherited from the EU, to ensure that they remain fit for purpose. In a world where we drink wine from all around the world—including from on our own shores—we will consider in due course whether there is a case for revisiting the requirements of the VI-1 certification.

And don’t forget that this is the same Prentis who failed to read the Brexit deal because she was busy with a nativity trail:

The desperation with which these politicians are acting and struggling to claim benefits from Brexit is disturbing. It is gaslighting which must not be normalised. Ever.