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I Just Love VAT

In 2000 the company in which I was Chairman, MD and 50% Shareholder, received a very substantial surcharge from the VAT Office, because of a considerable delay in our sending a Quarterly VAT return.

Because we were exporters, normally we would be reclaiming VAT not paying it.  However.  As this was my fault I decided to appeal to the VAT Office, which I did in a letter as follows:

HM Customs & Excise, Surcharge Appeal Team
Chesterfield Business Centre
Dents Chambers
New Square
Derbyshire, S40 1AJ
For the attention of – The Surcharge Appeal Team

Dear Sirs,

Our local VAT office in Peterborough tell me that you are the correct people to write to with an appeal in connection with our latest surcharge.
I would be grateful if you would reconsider the current surcharge. Peterborough suggested that I explain the reason to you in the same way that I did to them. In their view if you are unable to allow the appeal at least you will find the grounds a bit different.

At 10:00 pm on Tuesday the 11 July my wife found me dead in our kitchen.

Being a resourceful woman she ran next door for our neighbour, who fortunately is a cardio thoracic surgeon at Papworth Hospital. Samer carried out resuscitation procedures until the emergency services arrived and re­started my heart. Since then I have had my own internal defibrillator fitted and have returned to work.

As a result of the above I got behind with one or two things, one being our last quarter VAT return. If it is of any consolation I will not be able to use this as a reason ever again because the internal defibrillator will not permit me to die again, at least not until the battery runs out in five years time.

It is conceivable that you will find this reason a bit far fetched. I am therefore enclosing one of the numerous bills that BUPA picked up on my behalf and trust that this lends credence to this appeal. Regrettably as I did not need either a new heart or a new lung my neighbour Samer Nashef, having brought me back from the dead, was the only one who could not invoice BUPA for his services.

Oh! And according to my wife I haven’t looked better in years.

Yours Faithfully,
John Keegan
Chairman & Managing Director.

Who says that VAT Officers are lacking in heart? Seven days later I received the following letter:

Ian Roffe, my Co-Director and I celebrated with a superb lunch at the Pike & Eel, Needingworth.


In the EU Referendum the Lancaster District voted to leave. The turnout was 72.6% with 37,309 (51.1%) votes in favour of leaving the EU and 35,732 (48.9%) for remaining, which is remarkably similar to the National vote overall, 51.89% and 48.11% respectively.

The Governments White Paper, following the Chequers weekend has been published and as far as I am concerned it does not provide a genuine Leave scenario.

It’s worth recalling what brought the Referendum into being.

It is popular for politicians to claim that we did not know what Leaving would imply. In fact the issue was very simple and straight forward. David Cameron negotiated a deal with the EU. He put that deal to the House of Commons who voted to ask the country if they accepted the deal or wanted to leave the EU as an alternative. Ergo, if the people did not accept the Cameron deal then we would leave the EU.

The Government circulated the details of the agreement to every home in the country and chose not to touch on the issue of what would happen if we did not accept the deal. The fault for any shortfall in information about leaving falls purely on the shoulders of the Government.

Having read the White Paper from end to end, and being disenchanted I wrote to our MP, David Morris, as follows:

Dear Mr Morris,

For the purpose of clarity can I advise you that, as one of those that voted for you at the last two elections, I am totally opposed to the Governments White Paper on Brexit.

At the 1975 Referendum I was Chairman of the Cumbria Liberal Party and campaigned, with Willie Whitelaw in support of joining the EEC.

The EU, as it is currently constituted, is a massive remove from the concept that we expounded in 1975, in many significant areas but particularly in respect of VAT.

John Keegan

David Morris replied to me as follows:

Dear Mr Keegan,

Thank you for contacting me about the agreement reached at Chequers on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. I strongly believe that the Prime Minister’s proposals represent a realistic and practical vision that delivers the referendum decision in full.

 The UK will leave the EU, including the Single Market and the Customs Union on 29 March 2019. As we leave the EU, free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will no longer apply and the days of sending vast sums of money to Brussels every year are over for good. We will also leave the Common Agriculture Policy and the Commons Fisheries Policy and we will once again be able to strike our own trade deals. We will be in control of our own trade policy and be free to trade with the rest of the World. The European Union has held us back from being able to trade with new partners but Brexit opens up whole new markets and opportunities.

 The Chequers agreement provides a commitment for the UK to maintain a common rule book on industrial goods and agricultural products so that we have a free trade area with the EU, but it will be Parliament that has a final say on any new rules or regulations. These rules have been relatively stable since the 1980s and the Government has always been clear that UK standards should be as high, if not higher, than those of the EU and so I believe that having a common rule book as a minimum is a reasonable proposal.

 Having common rules on goods, as well as a new business friendly customs model, will also ensure that there is no hard border in Northern Ireland or any border down the Irish Sea and that the integrity of our precious United Kingdom is safeguarded.

 The EU, in contrast, had effectively proposed to keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and parts of the Single Market. The Prime Minister had always been clear that such a move, damaging the integrity of the UK, was completely unacceptable. The EU’s other option would have been for all of the UK to stay in the European Economic Area and the Customs Union, keeping free movement and accepting all EU laws. This was also unacceptable.

 And after we leave, we will want to continue working with the EU on security issues while having an independent foreign and defence policy.

 Immigration has been a huge issue, this paper allows us to control our borders by ending free movement of people. This allows us to set our immigration policy to one which suits the needs of our Country and our Industry. It also allows us to prioritise immigration in certain areas to prioritise professions which are needed in the Country like doctors and nurses, for example.

Brexit is about giving the Country the freedom it needs to determine its own destiny. I think we are in a hugely exciting time in the UK and I look forward to working on the trade deals with new markets to bring even more prosperity to Morecambe and Lunesdale

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

 Yours sincerely

 David Morris MP

In my view David’s very first paragraph shows that he either hasn’t read the White Paper, or is repeating parrot fashion, a position paper provided to him by his Whips, or other party officials. As a result I responded as follows:

Dear Mr Morris,

 Many thanks for your email, copy below.

Your email is clearly the equivalent of a campaign message provided to you by either civil servants or Party whips, and does not reflect a reasoned consideration taken by yourself, personally, following consideration of the White Paper and consultation with your constituency.

Having spent considerable time reading the 06 July Statement, then the102 pages (only 94 pages of actual content) of the White Paper Cm 9593, I am afraid that “your” analysis falls short of my understanding of what is in fact achievable under the White Paper and your position on it falls short of reality.

Certainly it does not enable us to leave the EU, which is what I personally voted for. As an example the common rule book is totally unacceptable. Personally, if the EU’s belligerence means that there will be a hard border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, then that will be the EU’s fault.

I would draw to your attention the fact that, despite the dissembling of what the Referendum was all about, there is one fact that commentators choose to disregard. That fact is that – the Government put to the people, in a referendum, their recommendations that the people either vote to accept the agreement that PM David Cameron had negotiated with the EU (the YES vote) or reject the agreement and leave the EU (the NO vote).

That was the choice we were given. The Government did not say that if we voted NO, but in later negotiations they could not achieve certain “deals” then we would not leave fully, but remain under ongoing obligations to the EU.

The White Paper leaves us under obligations to the EU. This is unacceptable to me.

I would ask you to make it clear to your Government that we are now in a position where preparing to leave without a deal should be their priority. The EU will only endeavour to water down the already unacceptable position the Government has taken. I do not believe that the EU will ever agree to accede to what the people voted for.  Therefore we should proceed on the basis that an acceptable deal is unachievable.

This would bring immediate clarity to the nation, industry and our trading partners in other parts of the world and enable the country to press ahead with plans for future trade, world wide.

Best regards.

John Keegan

I would be interested to hear the views of others in the Lune Valley.

John Keegan

The Rolling English Road

In the absence of any recent mind expanding contributions from the Rt Hon. Roy Williamson, I have been forced to plumb the output of one G.K. Chesterton, with his discourse on the English inebriate.


Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,

The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.

A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,

And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;


A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread

The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,

And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;


But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed

To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,

Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,

The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands;


His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run

Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?

The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,

But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch;


God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear

The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,

Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age;


But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,

And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;

For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,

Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

John Keegan, with assistance from G.K. Chesterton.

WWI Centenary

A note for your diary:-11th November – Courtesy of Steve & Karan Metcalfe a beacon will be lit on Sellet Bank joining in with the 2000 or so similar beacons that will be lit at the same time to celebrate the Centenary of the end of the second World War.

Following on from the success of the last 2 beacons, now recognised as the brightest in the Lune Valley, Colin & Marjorie Hall will be throwing open Sellet Hall by sponsoring a BBQ, free bar and raffle (no do in Whittington would be complete without a raffle).

Save the date for this event, which hopefully will be promoted jointly by the Parish Council, Village Hall and Whittington Church as the event gets closer.

John Keegan

The Village Blog