Tories prefer free ports WITH crime

From SNP Media:

The SNP has slammed a Scottish Conservative manifesto pledge which claims to support freeports across Scotland – despite the UK government dragging their heels over the Scottish Government’s greenport proposal.
SNP candidate Ivan McKee has criticised the Tories for failing to support the initiative while trying to make political capital out of it.
The SNP Scottish Governments greenport proposals created widespread interest from stakeholders who backed the focus on high standards, workers’ rights and green industries in addition to the trade and investment benefits they would bring.
However, due to the Tories refusal to agree to the implementation, Scotland’s ports now find themselves months behind their English counterparts putting Scottish businesses at a competitive disadvantage on top of the damage being created by Brexit.
Commenting, the candidate for Glasgow Provan said: 
“The Tories have dragged their heels on this, holding back the success of Scottish ports and undermining workers protections.
“The Scottish Governments proposal is fair, sustainable and will add value to Scottish goods, services and the country’s brand.
“Our document was ready to launch at the beginning of March, and was even published on the Scottish Governments website, but because this initiative requires both Governments to sign up, the delay by the Tories is damaging Scottish businesses.
“The Tories hypocrisy on this issue is clear for all to see. Instead of working with the Scottish Government to benefit Scotland’s economy, they have delayed and prevaricated. 
“It’s clear that Scotland faces a choice of two futures – more failure under a broken Westminster system, or the opportunity to build a fairer, wealthier and greener future as an independent country in a post-pandemic referendum.
“The issue at the election will be this: who has the right to decide Scotland’s future after the pandemic – people in Scotland or Boris Johnson? Only both votes SNP on 6 May can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

Notes to Editors: 
Scottish Conservative Manifesto Pledge can be viewed here –

8 thoughts on “Tories prefer free ports WITH crime

  1. Will read later, great articles today.
    Richard Murphy of tax research did a shortish article on free ports recently…scary thing is, while shackled to the English corrupt government, Scottish waters are under their rule/jurisdiction, policing of which seems scant given the drugs they allow into Scotland etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed RM has examined freeports on several occasions and none of it adds up for the headline boost to local economy, past experience has shown quite the reverse.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thatcher built Tilbury Docks 26 miles in London. Reduced all the ports around the UK with less business. People lost jobs. Thatcher diverted transport links through London S/E. Lead to even more congestion. Permanent traffic hold ups ruining the economy. Journeys taking much longer.

    Thatcher preferred roads and did not invest in rail transport. Heathrow the main hub in the south leading to more problems.. Subsided slots and transport in London S/E. Anywhere but Heathrow,

    The rest of the UK were neglected by comparison, especially Scotland. Scorch earth policy. Unemployment was higher. Interest rates at 17%. Inflation. £Billions were taken out of Scotland secretly and illegally.

    Devolution has meant more transport initiatives. There are plans for a travel/transport hub at Prestonpans? Improvement in the railways. Journey times can be twice as long as in the south. If improvement were made journey throughout Britain would be quicker. Rivalling flight times. Instead of £Billions spend in HS2. A total waste of time and monies. The Tory slush fund.

    Improvement have been made in International fights from Scotland. China, Dubai, airport expanded. Less connections and expense. No overnight Heathrow stays for early flights and connections. Less stress and better journeys. Harbour improvements for cruise liners and fishing. in the NE. A massive harbour project. Scotland exports salmon and perishable goods. Brings in foreign students direct. Less connection problems.


  3. The risks from criminal activity associated with freeports are set out at length in the following:

    Royal United Services Institute (2020) BRIEFING PAPER: Free Ports, Not Safe Havens Preventing Crime in the UK’s Future Freeports
    ( )

    It states: ‘The misuse of freeports in other countries for drug trafficking, trade in counterfeits, money laundering and a vast array of other crimes has drawn the attention of key international stakeholders, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The European Parliament has gone so far as to call for the abolition of freeports in the EU.’

    ‘.. freeports elsewhere are in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The FATF has labelled them a ‘money laundering and terrorist financing threat’; the WCO has reported on the pernicious effects of ‘low-level’ customs involvement in the running of freeports; …’

    For perspective: ‘A survey conducted by the WCO identified 2,300 free ports in the world in 2018, but as only one-third of WCO members responded, the actual number is probably far higher.’ Free ports (free zones) are permitted in the EU – there are currently 83 operating, based on the most recent list published by the European Commission in November 2017. So given this prevalence globally, free ports are hardly going to be the silver bullet solution for UK productivity and competitiveness ills relative to international peers!

    I understand there are not currently any free ports in the UK, though there is one on the Isle of Man. Seven free ports operated in the UK at various times between 1984 and 2012. In July 2012, the Statutory Instruments that set up the remaining five free ports (Liverpool, Southampton, Port of Tilbury, Port of Sheerness and Prestwick Airport) expired.

    On the proposed new freeports in the UK, this RUSI report in 2020 noted: ‘Potential tax incentives are still subject to consultation. They may include tax benefits that are already in place in 48 Enterprise Zones operating in England, such as Business Rates Discount and Enhanced Capital Allowance.’

    RUSI tabulates ‘Criminal Risk Factors in Freeports’. It cautions that the UK “government should beware of its rhetoric of ‘cutting red tape’ being misinterpreted as downplaying the value of proper customs controls.”

    On the UK government’s proposals it adds: ‘On a practical level, its current plans do not provide for an assessment of existing criminal risks in places where freeports will be established; do not commit to anti-illicit trade efforts being proportionate to the risk profile and volume of activity taking place in freeports; envisage light-touch authorisation of businesses in freeports that may come at the expense of reliable risk assessment; and do not establish a mechanism for the review of Freeport Operators’ effectiveness in discharging their security-related responsibilities.” I do not know if any or all of these concerns have been addressed.

    In a 2016 report, published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, Rishi Sunak argued that free ports in the UK could create up to 86,000 jobs if they were as successful as Foreign Trade Zones in the United States.

    The RUSI paper concludes: “The UK’s past freeports seem to have had little impact either for good or for bad.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks like the Tories are content with the damage to Scottish business and the Scottish economy. Anyone a bit paranoid might think it is deliberate. Let’s hope enough people vote against Brexit again, by rejecting the English government’s wrecking ball of destruction, which their branch office in Scotland, willingly acts on the memo. Vote Tory or any colour of Tory, accept austerity on steroids and the destruction of your economy, industry, environment, and social structure, simple really.


  5. In a previous btl post on free ports I noted in a recent briefing paper by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) a reference to Enterprise Zones operating in England and the preferential benefits these give to resident businesses.

    In March 2011, the Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for the creation of Enterprise Zones, to assist “the parts of Britain that had missed out in the last ten years.” These Zones formed part of a wider local growth initiative. So what can we learn about the likely economic impact of free ports in the UK to be introduced by a Tory government from the Tory’s introduction of Enterprise Zones around a decade ago?

    A National Audit Office report in 2013 entitled ‘Funding and structures for local economic growth’ concluded this on the 24 Enterprise Zones in England:

    “Job creation forecasts have changed from an initial expectation of 54,000 additional jobs by 2015 to an assessment of between 6,000 and 18,000.” And: “ .. without sufficient transparency or a comparable picture of performance across schemes, the new structures for achieving local economic growth have not yet demonstrated that they are capable of delivering value for money.” The NAO urged the need to: “Develop a strategy for evaluating the additionality of jobs created on Enterprise Zones, focused on understanding the effects on surrounding local economies of any job displacement linked to the zones.”

    On additionally and the risk of economic displacement, the NAO noted: “The extent to which jobs are ‘additional’, in that they would not have been created without the zones and that they are not displaced from nearby, will only become clear once the zones have been evaluated. However, the negative impact that job displacement can have on surrounding areas means that the starting locations of firms moving into the zones, and the implications for surrounding areas, should be subject to ongoing monitoring. Also, some schemes to create jobs in the zones have been funded through the Regional Growth Fund and other initiatives. The Department has not assessed whether reported jobs have been double-counted.”

    In a damning account on the monitoring of these growth initiatives, the NAO states: ‘The information they collect varies and is not comparable across initiatives, …. Information is not adjusted to avoid double-counting between Enterprise Zones, the Regional Growth Fund, the Growing Places Fund and City Deals. This does not therefore present an overall comparable picture of progress of local growth initiatives. Some of the information is provided voluntarily, is incomplete and unvalidated.”

    According to a House of Common Library briefing paper on Enterprise Zones (Number 5942, 21 January 2020):

    ‘In May 2014 the Public Accounts Committee published a further report in May 2014 on the subject of the government’s regional development agenda titled Promoting Economic Growth Locally.

    ‘This reports stated that as of December 2013, the DCLG reported 4,649 jobs (as well as 2,965 construction jobs) have been created by Enterprise Zones in England, which it describes as “particularly underwhelming” in light of initial Treasury projections of 54,000. In light of this shortfall, it recommends that concerned departments, in this case BIS, DCLG and the Treasury should “scrutinise thoroughly any forecasts of jobs its schemes will create before presenting them to Parliament and the public.”

    Given prior performance of former UK free ports and of Enterprise Zones I suggest the economic impact forecasts for the new generation of free ports should be kept modest. This then may bring wider net public benefit (and disbenefit from the risks of criminality) and value for money into doubt.


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