INCREASINGLY these days, it seems that the less there is for politicians to crow about on the economic front, the louder the noise.

And the latest outpourings from the UK Government over what continue to look like desperate trade deals with Australia and New Zealand last week were surely as strange as they were cacophonous.

We should perhaps have become used by now to being talked down to by the ruling Conservatives on matters business and economic.

This is, after all, a populist administration, which very much gives the impression that the reality of a situation matters much less than whether the electorate can be made to think not only that all is good regardless but also that anyone who dares say everything is not rosy is just moaning. The ubiquity of the “Remoaner” moniker applied by Brexiters to those who can see the folly of leaving the European Union for what it is, and who appeal for common sense, is perhaps a good illustration of the populist times in which we are living.

However, things were surely getting beyond ridiculous last week with a Department for Business & Trade press release which appeared to hold up as a major benefit of the Australia trade deal the potential for people in Scotland to be able to buy Tim Tams more cheaply.

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For those who do not know, and you would imagine many people have not given a passing thought to Tim Tams regardless of how popular they might be Down Under, these are Australian chocolate biscuits made by Arnott’s.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson made a big deal about Tim Tams back in 2020, in the context of the Australia trade deal negotiations.

He declared: “We send you Penguins, and you send us, with reduced tariffs, these wonderful Arnott’s Tim Tams. How long can the British people be deprived of the opportunity to have Arnott’s Tim Tams at a reasonable price?”

Businesses and households hammered by Brexit could surely be forgiven for thinking that the Conservatives have not been taking their plight seriously, given the Tories’ bizarre perspectives on trade deals and the economy.

Mr Johnson is no longer in the Cabinet but it appears that he has either left some of his script behind or that those in the Government trying to promote the Australia and New Zealand trade deals would rather continue to refuse to focus on serious matters.

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The substance, of course, is that the estimated benefits from the Australia and New Zealand deals, combined, pale into complete irrelevance relative to the huge detrimental impact on UK economic output from Brexit. My column in The Herald on Friday highlighted this simple fact once again, in the week that the trade deals took effect.

Given this simple reality, maybe we should not be surprised at all that we are continuing to hear about Tim Tams even though the period since Mr Johnson was going on about these biscuits has been characterised by dizzying and turbulent change at the top of the Tory administration.

The whole thing seems to epitomise just how out of touch the Conservatives are, in terms of the grim realities facing millions of households and so many businesses amid the UK’s economic malaise and inflation crisis.

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Households hit by soaring food prices in the UK, which are in no small part the result of the Tory hard Brexit, will hardly be impressed by the idea of cheaper Tim Tams. In fact, they are unlikely to have time to think about such trifling matters as they plough their way through very tough times in Tory Britain.

In any case you might argue that, in the context of the huge Brexit losses and the Conservatives’ seeming obsession with Tim Tams, the Tories are actually delivering the most expensive biscuits in history.

The whole circus is, however, in keeping with the Conservatives’ efforts to talk a good game as everyone else picks up the tab for their grave policy errors, from austerity to utter failure on energy prices, to Brexit-fuelled skills and labour shortages, to huge damage to exporters from the loss of frictionless trade with the European Economic Area. As well as, of course, the exacerbation of the inflation crisis with their mistakes.

My column on Wednesday in The Herald observed that there appeared to be nothing other than talk from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the context of his trumpeted drive to woo a business community which reportedly triggered an unsympathetic utterance from Mr Johnson in 2018 when it was highlighting the problems of Brexit.

Mr Sunak has appeared to favour gladhanding, organising an expensive Business Connect event in April to which he invited more than 200 leaders from the corporate world.

He has also seemed to prioritise soundbite over actual delivery, declaring the Tories are “unashamedly pro-business”.

My column observed that at least Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has taken some major and concrete initial steps in terms of his “new deal” for business by reconsidering the deposit return scheme and sending the proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising and marketing back to the drawing board.

In contrast, it seems that the Conservatives think they can get away with making a big noise about things being great on the economic and business front, when they are clearly not, and churning out messages which are surely condescending as well as insulting to people’s intelligence.

Only time will tell whether they can or not.