Many people seem to think that the Brexit process is being led by a bunch of idiots.
If only. Most of the people pushing Brexit forward know perfectly fine what they’re doing, and it makes perfect sense for them. Let’s face it:
Brexit is great if you have a lot of money in a tax haven, because the EU are trying to clamp down on them.
Brexit is great if you own health companies that can buy up the NHS when it becomes unaffordable after Brexit.
Brexit is great if you think a welfare state is a bad idea, because the subsequent economic collapse will make it unaffordable.
Brexit is great if you want the UK to be the 51st state of the USA, because there might not be any other options left eventually.
Brexit is great if you hate environmental protections, because the only way the UK might survive afterwards is by attracting the businesses that have been chucked out of all other countries.
Brexit is great if you’re a British nationalist, because leaving the UK will be much harder when it’ll involve setting up a real border (because you cannot simply stay within the same internal market and customs union).
Many people seem to think that the Tories will stop Brexit once they realise what it’ll entail. In many ways, Brexit is a Tory’s ultimate wet dream. If you don’t believe this, read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” now. It makes sense for them. It’ll allow them finally to create the ultimate neoliberal society that they’ve been dreaming about for a long time.
Brexit will only get stopped if the huge majority who don’t want to live in a neoliberal society without a welfare state realise that there is no such thing as a good – or jobs-first – Brexit.
And if Brexit doesn’t get stopped soon, it will happen – and people will then one day have to try to build up a welfare state from scratch in a failed state instead of simply preserving the existing one in a rich country.
Brexit must be stopped. It will be for the few, not the many. For the rich, not the poor. For the Tories, not for the rest of us.
I am not a huge fan of minimum pricing of alcohol. The money raised ought to go the government, not to the supermarkets, and I cannot see how it can work in an era of Internet shopping. However, it is clearly the only option the Scottish Government has, given that alcohol duties are reserved to Westminster.
It will be interesting to see how the shops will implement minimum pricing. Let us imagine a shop that used to sell five brands of vodka (A: own brand at £11, B: cheap brand at £13, C: normal brand at £15, D: quality at £18, and E: premium at £25). Minimum pricing now stipulates that the minimum price for these products is £15.
The shop basically has three choices:
It might sell all their cheapest products at the same price and leave all others unchanged: A: £15, B: £15, C: £15, D: £18, E: £25. This won’t happen – nobody would buy A or B.
It might stop selling their cheapest products: C: £15, D: £18, E: £25. This is a possibility, especially in chains that want to keep their prices the same in Scotland and England. It will cost the shops a bit of money – their profit margins will remain the same on all products, but people will buy less.
It might increase the prices of everything, e.g., A: £15, B: £16, C: £18, D: £20, E: £26. This will be great for shops – because they keep the money generated by minimum pricing, this will basically boost their profits dramatically, even if people are buying less. Because of this, I think this is the most likely outcome.
Whether minimum pricing will affect people’s behaviour really depends on how the shops implement it. If they go for the second scenario, I don’t think it will affect average consumers a lot, but in the third one, it suddenly becomes very attractive to buy everything in England. Lots of people might start using Internet shopping for alcohol (I don’t presume the Scottish Government can force an English retailer to apply Scottish legislation on alcohol), and people will start bringing back booze every time they go to England.
The savings probably won’t be big enough to make booze trips to England very popular, but it will at least pay for the petrol if you decide to go on a daytrip to Carlisle.
None of this is likely to affect underage drinkers. They will have to pay more for their booze, so the big question is whether this makes more of them opt for cannabis, given that it now will be significantly cheaper (and tends to be readily available in secondary schools).
It is all rather complicated, and it will be interesting to see whether it works in practice. I tend to believe that it won’t survive Scottish independence, however: Once the Scottish Government is able to set its own alcohol duties, that will be a much better option.