Home Economics Those Brexit Lies, Daniel Lambert And The Wine Imports

Those Brexit Lies, Daniel Lambert And The Wine Imports

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Daniel Lambert is a wine importer who is more than a little pissed off at the new bureaucracy surrounding the importation of wine from the European Union post-Brexit. OK, fair enough, and he’s not lying about what that bureaucracy is.

It’s the import of the story overall that becomes the lie. For we are now subject to all the fuss, in importing from the EU, that has always been true of imports from not the EU. That is, this is not a story about how appalling the post-Brexit bureaucracy is. This is a story about how appalling the pre-Brexit bureaucracy imposed by the EU was.

For we’ve not actually changed the system as yet. Imports from the EU now meet the same paperwork requirements as all non-EU imports used to do. This is all, thus, evidence of how much poorer the EU used to make us:

Daniel Lambert who imports up to 2m bottles of wine a year for 300 retailers including supermarkets, said he is unable to import wine from the EU because of the complex and unworkable HM Revenue and Customs system, which requires companies to work out one of 10,000 different combinations to describe the product they want to import.

“We were a pretty good little business, we were doing quite well, until Brexit came along,” he said.

“While we knew Brexit would be a car crash we did not know it was going to be a multiple pile-up in the fog with fatalities,” he tweeted in a thread over the weekend that has resonated with thousands on Twitter.

That thread is here:

It’s not a happy story about that paperwork, that’s true.

But it is necessary to grasp this story properly. The system he’s got to use now was the system that everyone had to use for non-EU imports last year and the decades before that. All the complaints about tariffs, paperwork, codes, computer systems, were the blocks that the EU system put in place against non-EU imports for all those decades.

He’s entirely right, of course he is, that the benefit to us of trade is the imports we get to consume. He might be right that this bureaucracy is going to mean wine going up by £1 a bottle for EU sourced imports. But if he is right then that means that non-EU wines have been £1 a bottle more than they should have been before now – to cover those costs of this paperwork.

And think on that larger question for a moment. The imports are the benefits. So, within the EU we have easy access to the imports from 450 million people. But these significant barriers to the imports derived from 6,500 million people. Outside the EU we have the opportunity to reduce our barriers to imports from all 6,950 million of them.

Which is going to benefit us more? Quite, it’s unilateral free trade, isn’t it?

That is, it’s not that post-Brexit paperwork has shown us the benefits of EU membership it’s that it’s shown us the costs. Bourdeaux now faces the same barriers as Malbec. The solution is to lower the barriers to both, right?

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Technically, Malbec *is* a Bordeaux grape… Pedantic I know, but too good a Fawlty Towers moment to pass up.

    But yes – there are lots of good wines outside Europe, and a level playing field would be quite nice in this most essential of essential goods. In fact that reminds me that the sun is already over the yardarm…

  2. My local Waitrose does some quite palatable ‘quaffing’* own-label wines at only £4.99 a bottle. They have stocks of the Italian and Spanish variants, but the Australian variant has run out.

    Bloody Brexit! **

    *i.e. not great, but OK for chugging down, and paradoxically, often more to my taste than stuff 2 or 3 times more expensive.
    ** that’s ‘B;loody Brexit, my arse!’

    • There is, of course, the fact that different people have different tastes. However, there is also a lot of fashion, snobbery and “emperors new clothes” in wine. Lots of blind taste tests have cheap wines win out over expensive ones. Then again, a Korean car is probably better than a BMW but people still pay to show off to the next door neighbours.

      • It’s more “emperor’s old clothes” with wine. People still assume that Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne are better and pay an extra premium for them, even though the famous blind tasting where USA beat France was in 1976 and every time it’s been repeated, USA won more categories.

        I’ve stopped drinking wine that’s from these regions. Cheaper parts, like the Loire or some vin de pays is worth it, but if I want to drink Bordeaux, I’ll buy Chile, USA, South Africa.

  3. It’s more “emperor’s old clothes” with wine. People still assume that Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne are better and pay an extra premium for them, even though the famous blind tasting where USA beat France was in 1976 and every time it’s been repeated, USA won more categories.

    I’ve stopped drinking wine that’s from these regions. Cheaper parts, like the Loire or some vin de pays is worth it, but if I want to drink Bordeaux, I’ll buy Chile, USA, South Africa.

  4. Dear Commentators,

    It wasn’t the point as to what anyone’s taste is. The point was that Brexit hasn’t affected the availability of European-grown wine. They still want our money. The French were selling Brandy during the Napoleonic Wars, and we Brits were still buying it.

    Daniel Lambert must be a Remoaner fuckwit.

  5. which requires companies to work out one of 10,000 different combinations to describe the product they want to import

    He imports wine. That is one tariff area for his entire business.

    But tariff classification is a trivial business for most items. You type your goods into a search and it pops up the code. It took me less than five minutes to search the web and find a Bordeaux is 22.04.21.42.20 if under 13% into the UK.

  6. Does he import nothing from outside the EU? If so he is not only missing out on some quality wines but also talking rubbish

  7. The major question, surely, is WTF have HMRC been doing for the last few years? It seems they have made no preparation for Brexit at all, given that EU procedures are being used for imports to a non-EU country. Will heads roll? Nah -the hierarchy will no doubt still be showered with Ks and other baubles.

  8. If I’ve understood correctly, St Emilion is now subject to the same regime that Californian Merlot always has been. Yet a major wine importer is unable to handle the implications of this? He’s either a total dickhead or a moronic Rejoiner (by no means exclusive categories).

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