No shortage of shortages in post-Brexit Britain

The government’s short-term visa schemes are not going to stop the shortages. With Christmas looming, it’s looking like a bleak winter.

Brexit petrol shortage
Petrol station shortage. Photo copyright Anna Damski

The dog having gone off on his weekly outing with the dog walker, I took the opportunity to go to the pet store and pick up some of his food. He is accustomed to eating the turkey flavour. The company doesn’t make it anymore, I am told. The flavour hasn’t been in stock for a month or more. They can’t source the turkeys.

That would be turkeys running out four months before Christmas, then. Every day we wake up to hear of another shortage. We are told there is no lack of petrol and we should not panic buy.

Fuel shortages continue

Except that, from the massive queue as I drove past a local petrol station, no one seems to believe this. I have yet to try to fill up, mainly because I do not have to. Plenty of people plainly are, and from reports on local media in my part of Suffolk, they are doing it because they have to use their car to get to work and they genuinely are running on empty.

Now I read on Reuters (and reported here three weeks ago) that we are going to have to cull “hundreds of thousands” of pigs unless the government issues more visas to let butchers into the country, because there is a shortage of these and of people working in the meat processing industry. A lot of these were originally from the EU and they have been sent (meat) packing. (Sorry, no joking matter.)

The government is apparently willing to allow a few thousand foreign truck drivers and poultry workers into the country, but nowhere do I read that anyone thinks this will be enough. 5,000 truck drivers are to get temporary visas. Against a shortage estimated at 100,000?

Winter of discontent?

This is going to be an awful winter. I think, though, and I think Boris Johnson knows this too, that there may come a tipping point. People are beginning to say, why are we in this mess and whose fault is it? How many times can we be told, it’s nothing to do with Brexit, and be expected to believe it?

This surely explains the decision to let those drivers and poultry workers into the country, which was pushed through by Johnson against strenuous opposition from the hardliners in his Cabinet, who seemingly believe their rock hard Brexit must never be polluted by compromise even if this means people starving in the streets.

Up next: medicine shortages

A forecast: the next crisis is going to be in medicines, in particular those that have to be taken on a regular basis by people suffering from chronic diseases such as asthma, angina or high blood pressure. There have been warnings from trade associations representing pharmacies that this is brewing, and that there has been no response to their concerns yet from the government.

If this happens, people are going to die as a consequence. Grieving relatives will want to know why, and their grief may not be palliated by another bland government statement saying, no, move along, nothing to see here, nothing to do with Brexit.

A recent survey found a majority who think Brexit is going badly, in whose number I would count myself and, without resorting to hyperbole, I suggest anyone half-way sane who has been reading the papers.

Brexit denialists

Incredibly, 18 percent of those surveyed thought Brexit was going well, including presumably, if they were asked, those Cabinet members who opposed relaxing curbs on migrant lorry drivers and poultry pluckers.

Brexit truly is a cult, and the true believers cannot walk away. The Dear Leader can never be wrong. The purity of our faith will see us through. The Emperor’s garments are of the finest quality.

Except that the tipping point may one day come, and if and when it does, I think it could happen very quickly.

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