U.K. Prime Minister Johnson: Post-Brexit free trade accord within reach

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as he walks to his car following a visit to Hereford County Hospital, in Hereford, England, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. (Matthew Horwood/Pool Photo via AP)

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UPDATED 5:05 PM PT – Thursday, August 13, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced he is confident the U.K. and EU will be able to strike a free trade deal by the end of this year. On Thursday, he told reporters the Republic of Ireland shares the U.K.’s vision of post-Brexit trade and suggested the rest of EU will likely agree to the proposed accord.

“There’s a very, very good case for all our friends and partners around the EU to do what I think we all want to do, which is zero tariffs, zero quota deal,” he said.

The deal will not limit the movement of goods and services across the English Channel, but could impose travel checks at the border.

According to the prime minister, COVID related restrictions on travel will remain in place for some time.

“We can’t be remotely complacent about our own situation. Everybody understands that in a pandemic like this, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t allow our population to be reinfected or the disease to come back in from abroad. That’s why the quarantine measures are very important.” – Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Johnson added his cabinet has been monitoring the latest reduction in COVID cases in France and at home, which will inform the upcoming decision to ease restrictions on mutual travel.

RELATED: EU And U.K. Remain In Deadlock Over Post-Brexit Relations

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Sorry, but this isn’t a return of the Accord

ABC says sorry… sorta, and Donald Trump is busted by Twitter. Plus the latest Tips and Murmurs from the Crikey bunker.

This is no Accord, ABC’s framing leaves a lot to be desired, and the Church of Scientology wants you. Catch up with all the latest Tips and Murmurs from the Crikey bunker.

Having a good crisis

Despite the coverage, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “peace in our timesheets” speech on industrial relations is not a return to the Accord. Here are a few material differences:

  • Union density in the early 1980s was almost 50%. Today it’s less than 15%.
  • In the 1970s there were an average of 2368 industrial disputes a year (losing 542 days every 1000 workers), and in the 1980s it was 1919 (losing 312 days). In the 2010s (as of 2018) the average was down to 198 and the days lost per thousand workers was 14.
  • Since 2006 there have been strict restrictions on when a workforce can legally strike, and the Fair Work Commission retains incredible discretion to prevent industrial action.
  • Some number-crunching of ABS stats from Bernard Keane (download here) tells us the average GDP per hour worked — the broadest indicator of labour productivity — was 0.5% per quarter between 1980 and 1985. Under the Coalition it has been 0.2%.

Given the union movement’s decidedly rubbish hand at the moment, employer groups would be forgiven for thinking they were going to get a good deal out of all this “put your weapons down” talk.

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