Brexit lies get more extreme

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply ( ), a supposedly global body upholding high standards of excellence, issued a press statement on 26/09/2018 which stated

“One in ten UK businesses believe they would likely go bankrupt if goods were delayed by just 10 – 30 minutes at customs as a result of Brexit, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS)”

This statement  exemplifies the extreme lengths to which pro-remain organisations will go to promulgate information which is at best grossly misleading, or (likely in this case) to publish deliberate untruths aka lies. For clarity, CIPS made no qualification to the ‘UK businesses’ set, i.e. the reader is to assume ALL UK businesses.

What are we to make of the ‘headline here?’ There are 3.93m companies in the Companies House database. The estimates of those which are dormant vary, but even a conservative estimate would indicate that there are 1.8m incorporated businesses and some 420k partnerships actively trading.

The failure of 1 in 10 businesses would be at least 180k failures in trading incorporated entities. But wait, 76% of all businesses have a single owner operator, and so that 1.8m headline figure needs to be drastically re-cast.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (DBIS) points out that 99% of all SME’s employ less than 50 people, and only 7,000 of all businesses  have more than 250 employees.

What CIPS would have  the reader believer is that 180,000 business are not only critically dependent on their business with the EU, but that they have supply chains which are so sophisticated and systemically dependent on the supply chain that even a  10 minute customs delay might bankrupt them. Given that the vast majority of those businesses statistically employ less than 50 people (or probably just one person) this is simply not credible.

The rest of the press release descends into statistical idiocy.  500,000 businesses will stockpile goods, and 900,000 will find it difficult to find supplies and skills.  Given the percentage of businesses which DBIS  state have a single owner, this is patently nonsense.

The CIPS figures, even with cursory examination, don’t add up, and at best they fail at all levels of statistical presentation.

  • Either (a) the figures for ‘UK businesses’ as a whole have been extrapolated from a sample set of 1310 organisations surveyed, in which case the survey has been subject to extreme ‘selection bias’ from a non-representative sample OR (b) the actual set of businesses referred to should have been properly qualified to state that it was restricted to companies with supply chain managers with materially critical import  / export processes, and the extrapolation was for similarly structured organisations.
  • If (a) is true, then the press release is simply patent nonsense on every measure. 
  • If the extrapolation was done on the basis of (b), the failure to qualify the description of  ‘UK businesses’ is a serious and juvenile error.

It’s hard to not conclude that CIPS has deliberately provided unqualified figures to make a pro-remain point. Grumpy (who cares not if he is in or out of the EU) does object to distorted data being presented to grab a headline and contribute to the ‘fake news’ surrounding Brexit.

Chairman Tim Richardson should be embarrassed by such tosh, and the writer demoted to some position where s/he has no public voice.