Dr Alf brings us an interesting FT article but sadly Theresa May‘s negotiating contains no wild cards. For me, softening her negotiating hand shows weakness. But it’s important to understand the context of Theresa May’s Britain.
The UK has the 30th worst worker productivity in the world, some 18% behind the average for the G7, and we have several million people who are not working and not counted in the official unemployment figures but are not too sick to work. To do the jobs that these people refuse to do or say are “beneath them”, it will be necessary to either tolerate more immigration subject to a cutoff date or automate /robotise the jobs or get a lot tougher with people who think the world owes them a living to the point where they watch Jeremy Kyle in the mornings and frequent sleazy public houses such as the “Three Magnets” in Letchworth near where I live.
People are not prepared to undertake physically arduous work for farmers such as picking vegetables which is why the 2nd language of choice in places like Wisbech and parts of the Fens is Lithuanian and in restaurants and hotels where I go to dine with my girlfriend it is people from Eastern Europe who serve the food, act as waiting staff, car parking attendants, hotel receptionists and bar staff.
The Government is loathe to confront the fat cat bosses who pay themselves exorbitant salaries for failing to deliver shareholder value or set a better example by selling, exporting and moderating their pay or being more productive themselves. Thus overweight workers who are lazy and unproductive have no role models and no incentives.
The Government is not prepared to confront the food industry or the brewers by bringing in variable taxes on foods so it will have to allow some controlled immigration whilst “nudging” the lazier members of the proletariat with a combination of workfare and automation plus compulsary diet and exercise as a condition for receipt of benefits. Bosses need to have their pay capped unless they deliver greater productivity by themselves and their workers,sell more and export more. Bosses who deliver would face no caps once they reached certain targets particularised to their industries and exceptional firms would get lower corporation taxes and improved writing down allowances.
So we have weakness in negotiating with the EU and a problematic context in the UK. But the elephant in the room is Prime Minister May’s weak political position – she has a small majority, missed her chance to call on election and must now pander to the rght-wing of the Conservative Party.