Today a big box from Hotel Chocolat arrived, to add some sweetness to lockdown. Hoorah.
But the thing is, in all the course of many trips to Brussels during the last twenty years, one thing I have become rather fond of is the chocolates of Neuhaus. Not going to Brussels didn’t stop the supply, because there has usually been a convenient Neuhaus store in St Pancras station. Lockdown didn’t stop the supply either, because you can order on line. So why Hotel Chocolat today?
The UK landing page on the Neuhaus website carries the depressing message:
Unfortunately, we cannot ship to the United Kingdom due to Brexit.
Never mind, with the Hotel Chocolat alternative, problem solved, sort-of. Now, for some tea. Next stop, the Whittard website, as the tea-tin is getting empty. On the delivery page:
Brexit Update. Sadly, we have had to suspend shipping to Europe due to complexities and changes brought on by Brexit.
And this within ten minutes of being bounced off Neuhaus.
In the kitchen the weekly news is full of reports on the consequences of excluding services from the pre-Christmas Brexit deal. Financial services (which started my addiction to Neuhaus, it should be admitted) are said to contribute 6% or more to UK GDP. The UK’s share of trading volume in equities is shrinking, with similar trends being observed in other financial products. Trading will go to where the liquidity is. In 1998 trading in German government bonds switched almost overnight from the London-based LIFFE marketplace to Frankfurt; it never came back. Excluding services from the Brexit deal may not have made any substantive legal difference, but sentiment is key. And, when you can’t get things like tea and chocs to move across borders – even though there is supposed to be a deal covering goods – nothing in the world can stop an outflow of reputation.