Brexit: Ship blocking Suez Canal a metaphor for perils of barriers to free trade – Scotsman comment

As anyone who has ever messed about on boats for any time at all can attest, they can be tricky things to manoeuvre. A strong current or gust of wind and you can find yourself heading inexorably for trouble.

The MV Ever Given cargo ship ended up stuck sideways in the Suez Canal, after a gust of wind blew it off course, impeding traffic through one of the world's busiest trade routes (Picture: Suez Canal/AFP via Getty Images)

So, there may be a considerable degree of sympathy for the captain of the truly vast container ship that ended up wedged across the Suez Canal, blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

However, there may be others who ask, couldn’t this have happened sooner? On June 22, 2016, perhaps? As a metaphor for the importance of free trade and the danger of introducing barriers, it seems rather apt. It might have made just enough of the population think differently about throwing up obstacles to trade across another of the world’s busiest trade routes – the English Channel – to have made a decisive difference to the Brexit vote.

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Suez Canal: Enormous haulage queues develop after crucial waterway blocked by la...

Boris Johnson may downplay the severity of the problems caused by his main political achievement – leading the UK out of the EU – but a recent analysis by the Food and Drink Federation found our exports of whisky to the Continent fell from £105 million in January last year to just £29m in January this year, following the end of the transition period, while salmon exports were down by 98 per cent, cheese 85 per cent, chocolate 68 per cent, beef 91 per cent… the list goes on.

As we wait for news of the benefits of Brexit, the title of Captain Calamity looks better suited to the current captain of HMS Britannia, than anyone in a spot of bother on the Suez Canal.

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