Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Tweeters’ joy over Brexit teething problems


ADRIFT on the internet the other day, I was lured on to the rocks of contention by a Twitter siren.

This turned out to be an apparition because the origin of the distressed damsel’s song, a notorious tweeter I shall call Femi Oh-Watta-Wally, seems slightly dubious.

He was spinning a yarn about Brexit. Some poor woman who works in Freight Forwarding was ‘going through hell’ because of the new trading classifications needed now we are out of the EU.

I thought I could help. Maybe. After I’d heard her story I would seek out the answers from customs experts I know.

That’s not inconceivable because this week I am researching international trade for a newsletter for subscribers to an export guide.

That involves consumption of a smorgasbord of media – omni-channels that I have to filter like a bottom-feeding bivalve in Europe’s filthiest waters. Everyone one of these ‘ominous channels’ is bursting with the pernicious plankton of doom’s harbingers.

I’m constantly amazed how destructively negative the coverage of Brexit is. Some publications I scan are aimed at hauliers, freight forwarders and air cargo carriers. Despite wanting to make their living from these trades, the journalists can barely contain their joy over each catastrophe they excitedly predict. Their disastrous projections rarely materialise; such is the way with many fantasies.

Often the problems mooted are genuine but are subsequently solved or remedies proposed. Some publications – such as the food industry bible The Grocer – do follow up. However, many reporters seem reluctant to help their readership and provide no useful intelligence.

Which is odd, given that a trade mag is supposed to empathise with its readership. Call me old-fashioned but I always worked on the basis that we trade journalists are supposed to go native. We are supposed to feel the pain and share the joy of our constituency.

Perhaps that’s an unrealistic assumption, given that these days reporting is all online. These days hacks don’t leave the office or pick up a phone, let along meet the readers at events and have a beer with them. The last time I shifted on a national paper everyone just hastily cut and pasted stuff. Even taking time to write picture captions or intros was frowned upon.

Today’s reporters will be in their 20s, have no experience of the industry they’re judging, and are woker than Coca Cola.

Even the Experts are petty partisans. I’m amazed at the output of one government trade adviser who – judged on her tweets – clearly loathes this country. She readily takes to Twitter to put a negative spin on every government announcement.

Each time something goes wrong for our traders, such as the ban on our shellfish, the Harbingers take to Twitter, triumphantly proclaiming that the EU is perfectly right.

One Oyster Monger, for example, Twittered about why he’s happy for our waters to be suddenly re-classified as unclean and our shellfish exports blocked.

Many might wonder why the EU had done a U-turn. How come it was happy to feed these mucky molluscs to its children when we were in an abusive relationship with them? Why have these beastly bivalves suddenly been judged as poisonous? Does this reflect our trade relations? That’s the most obvious conclusion.

Apparently not. Our trading expert understood all the regulations and knew exactly why it was only fair. He saw it all coming. He knew! However, I can’t find evidence that he made these arguments before Brexit.

If it was so obvious that shellfish would be re-classified, and his fellow fishermen would lose their livelihoods, wasn’t his silence before the event a bit odd? Did he want them all to be wiped out so that he could have the market to himself?

Or maybe he’s one of those loudmouth retrospective sages.

Who knows?

There are plenty of Remainiacs who claim others are ‘going through hell’ in the teeth of Brexit.

If we are ‘going through hell’ that suggests this is a temporary phase. Even their account of things suggest that they know it will pass.

Perhaps Hell is the gift shop we are channelled through after we finally decide to leave that dystopian theme park called EUtopia. The land of the Omni-Pedants.

OK, we probably did get ripped off at the tills. But you can’t negotiate with people who are having an emotional crisis. Even in a life-and-death Covid crisis they couldn’t rise above their anger. They screwed up their own medication, blamed us and then tried to steal our vaccines.

If I can quote my friend Mick Smetaphor here: it’s better to burn your foot on the fire escape than to stay for the collapse of the burning building. 

Let’s not dwell on the awful stuff. Much of it will disappear.

By the way, before I could find help for the Distressed Damsel, the story disappeared off Twitter. I wonder if she ever existed.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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