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Analysis

James Dyson is great inventor – of fake facts

by Luke Lythgoe | 14.11.2017

Pro-Brexit engineer James Dyson was barely challenged as he dreamed up one inaccurate pro-Brexit argument after another on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. He can afford to do so. Although most of his research and development is done in the UK, he manufactures in Malaysia. So he won’t pay the price of a hard destructive Brexit.

Marr introduced Dyson as “one of the great optimists about our future”. Optimism is easier when it isn’t weighed down by inconvenient facts.

Take his claim that Europe is the “slowest growing area in the world”. Untrue. The IMF forecasts the EU will grow 2.3% this year. That’s well ahead of South America, Japan and the Middle East – and even slightly ahead of the United States. What’s more, if you exclude the slow-growing UK, the EU would be growing even faster.

Or look at Dyson’s attempt to brush aside concerns that Brexit would hurt the car industry, which relies on millions of components frictionlessly criss-crossing Europe before they are assembled into finished vehicles. He said there’s “not a problem with the supply chain because that’s duty-free”. That’s not true either. The average export tariff on car components to the EU is 4.5%. What’s more, smooth supply chains aren’t just about duties. Extra customs checks and paperwork at the border could wreak havoc with manufacturers’ “just-in-time” production methods.

And if the car industry was clobbered, what was Dyson’s answer? “The government has got plenty of room to give tax deductions, compensation, to British exporters of cars to Europe,” he told Marr. The snag is that if the government tried to subsidise British industry in this way, other countries would cry foul to the World Trade Organisation and would be free to slap extra punitive tariffs on our exports.

None of this affects Dyson because he’s already paying 3% tariffs to sell his Malaysia-built goods into the EU. His biggest market is with the US, and most of his growth is in Asia. The EU only counts for 18% of his trade.

Responding to InFacts, a spokesperson for Dyson said: “If the EU insists on creating tariff and non-tariff barriers the UK government has means to foster a more supportive environment for British companies.” The other “means” Dyson laid out in his interview were scrapping corporation tax, making it “easier to hire and fire” employees and trying to emulate Singapore’s economic model.

People may be disarmed by Dyson’s charm and achievements – Marr certainly seemed to be. But that shouldn’t disguise the fact that he’s another wealthy Brexiter espousing hardline policies that suit his interests. It will be ordinary people who suffer from the fallout.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

7 Responses to “James Dyson is great inventor – of fake facts”

  • My only contact with Dyson was years ago when he was proposing some spurious research to prove his vacuum cleaners were good for asthmatics. Our ethics committee threw it out.

  • Dyson maintains a walled garden around his R&D centre. Nothing slips out – fair enough, but neither does any good. The technicians are shipped in from worldwide, and the IP stays firmly in-house. There is no added value from his operation, no spin-outs nor technology licences that lead to new products by UK manufacturers. Dyson does not contribute. It just takes. He could ship off tomorrow and UK plc would hardly notice .

  • Dyson’s latest claim to fame is to make a £300 hair dryer. Is this a great leap for humankind to make such a fetish toy for the super-rich? Is it not rather a sign of his lack of moral vision? But we should be grateful Dyson was so frank: he says what so many funders of Brexit want – an end to the European community model which seeks to protect workers against exploitation, and to protect the European ideal of a cohesive and co-operative community. As Dyson said on the Andrew Marr show, he wants the US model where employers can fire people at a moment’s notice with no redundancy period, no redundancy pay, no social benefits, and he thinks wonderful corporations like his should pay no corporation tax at all because he will be doing Britain such a favour by offering people work at rock-bottom wages. Spread the word to those who voted for Brexit.

  • I hope Mr Lythgoe has been able to get a copy of his article to Andrew Marr. It is a pity that the latter’s programme does not provide for ” the alternative argument ” to be put by another speaker. At least if Andrew Marr receives a copy of this article he will have a better idea of the true situation, unlike unfortunately the viewers of the programme who will have been misled by Dyson.

  • This minority of business entrepeneurs opposed to our membership of the EU usually have one thing in common. Their operations are either centred on the domestic UK market, or in other areas outside Europe.
    As far as being directly effected by Brexit, it’s a case of ‘I’m All Right Jack’.